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Kickboxer 3: The Art of War (1992)
Tonight's Feature Presentation


Starring: Sasha Mitchell, Dennis Chan, Richard Comar, Ian Jacklin, Alethea Miranda, Noah Verduzco

Written By: Dennis A. Pratt Directed By: Rick King

The Short Version

They broke out The Art of War subtitle.  You know what that means, right?

It means “this movie’s gonna stink.”

Kickboxer 3 features one good idea; otherwise, it’s bad and it’s boring.

What, you thought there’d be lots of kickboxing?  Ha!

I watched Kickboxer 3: The Art of War so you don’t have to.  Skip it.

The Long Version

What Kind Of Cheese Is It?


This stuff was nasty wax to begin with, but now… yeeew!

Pairs Well With...

MAD DOG 20/20.

Nasty crap you can smell coming from fifty feet away.  It’s your own fault if you drink it.

“What happens when we’re bad?  Who can tell me?  This is very disappointing.  This is very disappointing.”

Though I certainly appreciate the finer things that cinema has to offer, I consider myself to be a connoisseur of bad movies.  I am the sort of person who, when told that a movie is “a total pile of crap,” will often take that description as a challenge, especially if it’s an action or horror flick.  I firmly believe in the concept of “so bad, it’s good,” and even with stinkers that don’t reach that level, I can usually find something to enjoy.

I’d been told by some highly reliable sources that Kickboxer 3: The Art of War is a total pile of crap.  Even the person who supplied me with a copy – my old friend and former partner in crime, Kenner – suggested that I skip it.

Of course I didn’t skip it.  Oops.

Kickboxer 3: The Art of War is not so bad that it’s good.  It’s so bad that it’s bad.  Not only is it so bad that it’s bad, but it’s also based on a sleazy foundation that makes the steaming pile on top smell even more fetid.

What kind of sleazy foundation, you ask?  How about child slavery and child prostitution?  Sleazy enough for you?

I know the score here; the producers hate the idea of pimps who prey upon children as much as any civilized human being who deserves to continue breathing does.  The evil pimp and the child exploitation are there for the same reason that other types of movies like to use the Nazis for villains: to make it very clear that the bad guys are very, very bad and that therefore Our Hero must be very, very good, no matter how washed up his performance may be.  But let’s not fool ourselves: this is not a social conscience movie out to provoke change or send a message.  (Indeed, Our Hero very clearly washes his hands of the kids once he’s saved them.  Not exactly a spoiler there.)  This is a plot device.  A cheap, sleazy plot device that involves the production team engaging in their own form of child exploitation, and it’s crap.  (Even before the guy behind the camera does a lot too much leering at the girl in distress every chance he gets.)  Kids do not belong in movies like this, especially as objects, which is exactly what they are here.  This is not entertainment.  This is something that gets shut off inside of twenty-odd minutes.

But okay; let’s step back and pretend that ethics don’t get in the way, take the plot at face value, and just treat Kickboxer 3: The Art of War as a straight up action movie.

It’s still wretched.

Of course, this should come as a surprise to no one.  After all, the Powers That Be decided to put up one of the biggest warning signs possible from the very start: they called it The Art of War.  Sun Tzu’s book of millennia past may be the single greatest military treatise ever and one of history’s most fascinating philosophical pieces besides, but filmmakers only grab for the (usually irrelevant) title when they’ve got nothing good on the flip side.  It’s just one of those Cardinal Truths… and Kickboxer 3 proves the rule.

Call me crazy if you want, but when I see a movie called Kickboxer 3, I expect it to be about, you know, kickboxing.  But no, that’s just the weakest of sideshows here while we instead follow a bare excuse to have Sasha Mitchell pretend that he’s Charles Bronson toting guns for justice.  (His first two attempts to tote guns for justice, by the way, turn out to be raids on the wrong targets.)  When Mitchell does use his fists, it’s usually to beat up such worthy opponents as street drunks or henchpersons who haven’t the slightest idea how to fight unless there’s a gun involved.  For those still hoping for some kind of tournament style play, there’s a match at the beginning pitting The Bad Kickboxer versus a hapless dope that’s such a one-sided beatdown that it can’t possibly be fun.  Our Hero, meanwhile, doesn’t participate in any real match until we’re almost at the end, and that quickly degenerates into WWE style stupidity.  (You know: leaving the ring, knocking the ref out cold, using furniture… all that’s missing is JR yelling for someone to stop the damn match.)  Um, yay.  Only not.  I’d complain about how badly the combat is showcased, but in this movie, the combat is so awful that the people behind the camera probably did us all a favor, whether they knew it or not.

Sasha Mitchell, meanwhile, has lost nearly all of the charm that had previously made him a fair choice to step into a spotlight previously occupied by the affable Jean-Claude Van Damme.  There’s enough speculation around the net as to why that is, and I feel no need to go there.  It’s enough to say that he is phoning it in from start to finish, physically and otherwise.  A pasty guy with muscles who reads his most important lines with less conviction than the average person puts into ordering a Big Mac at McDonald’s.  Um, yay.  Only not.

I could keep picking this turkey apart, but I think you get the point.

Is there any good to be found in this mess?  Of course there is.  Indeed, if it weren’t so poorly acted and didn’t happen in the middle of such a bad movie, Kickboxer 3: The Art of War features one of the most clever plot points ever to crop up in this genre.  Upon capturing the Hero, most bad guys would be happy to throw him into a rat-filled dungeon or beat him with sticks or just have him take a pounding from five or six goons and call it a day.  This bad guy, though, decides to train Our Hero for his upcoming fight.  Sure, the training is thinly disguised torture (running up a mountain with a sack full of rocks on his back, digging a pit, water skiing without skis, etc.), but still.  It’s an intriguing idea; it’s just too bad that it happened to reach its implementation phase during such a puddle of a movie.

Meanwhile, Dennis Chan can only stand and watch as the ever-constant Xian.  He’s much better than this flick deserves, and he looks disheartened enough to suggest that he knows it, too… but at least he’s getting paid.

You, on the other hand, are probably not so lucky.  Even if you don’t have to cough up any cash to watch Kickboxer 3: The Art of War, it will cost you an hour and a half of your time that you’re just never going to get back, and really, there’s better bad chop socky to watch with that time.  Like, say, stuff that has real chop socky in it.  Just sayin’.

Bottom line, Kickboxer 3: The Art of War just plain sucks.  I watched it so you don’t have to.

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- Reviewed by Ziggy Berkeley, June, 2013

You can email Ziggy at ziggy@cinemaontherocks.com. You can also find us on Facebook.


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