Kickboxer: Retaliation Packs a Punch
Event and Film Review
On the night of the premier at Cineplex Cinemas Lansdowne Kickboxer: Relation star Alain Moussi is a natural. He gets the fans going by mimicking a kick to their head and takes time to chat and joke with the 500 guests in attendance. Moussi has been in front of a media wall posing for pictures and chatting with fans for about 2 hours. You need a telescope to see where the lineup of fans ends. But Moussi’s excitement and enthusiasm is infectious.
The premiere took place in two sold out theatres. “I’m so happy to bring the premiere to Ottawa. It’s an honour.” says a beaming Moussi. “This kind of event usually happens in Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. But I made it a priority to bring the premiere home to Ottawa. Everyone’s having fun and we’re all excited.”
The hometown hero from Vanier has an impressive resume of blockbusters under his black belt. Moussi has been in X-Men, Suicide Squad and The Immortals, to name a few. He’s a martial artist, stuntman and the lead in the rebooted Kickboxer franchise. But this night is all about Kickboxer: Retaliation.
From a director’s standpoint you might wonder how all of the films big stars fit on the same screen. Mike Tyson, Alain Moussi, and Hafþór Björnsson (aka “The Mountain” from Game of Thrones) all appear in this action packed film. We just had to ask Director Dimitri Logothetis. “For me, I don’t see it to be a challenge. The biggest difficulty for me is having to frame the cameras certain ways. You know, where one guy is a foot taller than the other guy. Other than that, they’re all very nice and gentle. I was fortunate enough to work with Mohammed Ali and do a documentary with him years ago, and he was just one of the nicest guys I’ve ever met. So, I love working with guys like that”.
Some fans were surprised to find this premiere take place here in Ottawa as opposed to Toronto but Logothetis explains that “it’s Alain’s hometown, it deserves to be here. He’s a wonderful talent and an amazing Ju-Jitszhu master. Ottawa should be really proud of him”.
Just when you thought this film was already exploding with talent we found out the director himself is also an amazing martial artist. When asked how he felt working alongside others with similar passions Logothetis replied, “It’s fantastic! I mean, I tell everybody that you should really follow your passion. This is something that kind of fell on my lap. I’ve been a filmmaker, I’ve been a writer-producer and director for years, I’ve directed an awful lot of action shows, but this is something that fell on my lap and I seized it. I happened to train with some of the best martial artists in the world during my 20’s, and receive a black-belt then too. One from Howard Jackson and one from Ed Parker, who had me train for a couple days with him .”
If you’re a fan of Kickboxer Vengeance, you’ll be pleasantly surprised to see some changes in this film. Dimitri explains, “I think what you’re going to end up seeing is that I approach this from a completely different shooting style. I really use slow-motion and ramping to it’s full effect. So a lot of the people I bring in to the project are people who can actually do what we want on camera, like Alain. We don’t do tricks, we don’t do cabling, we don’t wire people. The whole point of the movie is to have the little boy/ girl in you think that ‘if I train like this guy I could actually beat the bad guy.’ In my opinion, when you start putting wires on people, then anyone could do that, and then you don’t really need to spend years training”.
While Alain Moussi is an Ottawa native, Logothetis explains that he also has a special connection to the country. “I love Canada. I’ve worked in Canada a lot. I worked in Toronto doing a T.V. series, I worked in Montreal for a bit and I worked in Saskatchewan. I love Canada, I love Canadians and what can I say, I always have the greatest time when I’m here”.
Before the film begins, Moussi and Logothetis address the crowd thanking them for their support and loyalty to the film.
From the opening scene to the final fight, Kickboxer: Retaliation is non-stop action. Moussi has a UFC-style fight. He goes toe-to-toe with former heavyweight champion Mike Tyson. There’s even a nod to the classic mirror fight scene from Bruce Lee’s Enter the Dragon.
One of the most impressive fights is reminiscent of a 1980s Nintendo-side-scroller. Moussi demolishes half the inmates of a Thai prison in a single, 4-minute long take. This is one of Moussi’s favourite scenes, “because we did it with very little rehearsing. It was one shot with no cuts for 4 minutes. We got that on day one before lunch so that’s why it’s a miracle shot. I learned the fight the morning of and then we just did it.”
The action film concludes with an adrenaline-filled battle against Hafthor Bjornsson. Yes, Moussi takes on 6’10”, 400lbs “The Mountain” from Game of Thrones. Moussi recounts filming the epic fight scene, “It took seven, 12-hour days to shoot this fight. Dimitri used 3 cameras at once to pick up all the shots. You can’t get a stunt double for Thor (The Mountain) and I’m doing my own stunts. So when you see us fighting, we’re fighting.”
When asked which of his cast mates he would prefer fighting off-screen, Moussi laughs but struggles to respond. “That’s a loaded question that will get me in trouble! That would make me scared of whoever I don’t pick. They are all threatening on their day, but none of them could face me!”
From humble beginnings in Vanier to Hollywood stardom, Moussi hasn’t forgotten his roots. He’s partnering with the United Way to give back, “My aunt works with the United Way and approached me. I thought it would be great to give the benefits of martial arts to kids who can’t afford it. We’re planning to offer a program at community centres to help these kids. I know martial arts has great benefits and my partners and I at K2 Martial Arts are eager to help.” They hope to launch the program this September in Vanier.
What’s next for Moussi? Kickboxer: Armageddon, which will be the third installment in the franchise. Moussi says, “It’s going to go even deeper and darker. The idea is that Kurt Sloane needs to put an end to all the underground fighting he’s been facing. He will go undercover to take care of business. That’s why I’m growing my hair and will soon grow a beard.”
Kicboxer: Retaliation will be available on iTunes in Canada, and in select theaters on January 26th.