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Blu-Ray : For Fans Only
Release Date: March 5th, 2024 Movie Release Year: 1989

Kickboxer - Walmart Exclusive SteelBook

Overview -

Blu-ray Review By: Bryan Kluger
Jean-Claude Van Damme is a national treasure and it all started in the '80s with Bloodsport and Kickboxer. The latter grossed over $50 million in theaters and cemented the action star's career forever - over an oiled-up kickboxing movie. The Steelbook from Lionsgate and Walmart has no new video or audio presentations nor any bonus features whatsoever. It does have new collectible Steelbook packaging and a Digital Code, so that's at least something. For Fans Only
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For Fans Only
Rating Breakdown
Tech Specs & Release Details
Technical Specs:
Video Resolution/Codec:
1080p/MPEG-4 AVC
Aspect Ratio(s):
Audio Formats:
English 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio
Spanish, English SDH
Release Date:
March 5th, 2024

Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take


Almost every young boy who grew up in the '70s, '80s, and '90s knows the name Jean-Claude Van Damme. Those roundhouse kicks and the ability to defeat evil villains were the sport of every sleepover and get-together during those simpler times. It all started with Bloodsport, which starred Van Damme and Oscar-winner Forest Whitaker. A year later, the cinematographer of Bloodsport David Worth directed Van Damme in Kickboxer, which is virtually the same film. Still, instead of a full contact kumite with Van Damme as an experienced fighter, it's with Van Damme who does not know how to fight in the film. Even the score and sound effects are eerily similar to that of Bloodsport since the composer is the same. But Kickboxer landed in the hearts and minds of audiences worldwide given its same structure as The Karate Kid that mixed with the violence of Bloodsport. 

In its 103-minute runtime, Kickboxer checks off almost every genre box, from romantic comedy to dancing musical, thriller, horror, gangster drama, and of course - homoerotic '80s action film (the best kind). Some might think that is too many genres to fill a movie, but Kickboxer made over $50 million at the box office. People love Van Damme, fighting, and America winning in fights to inspirational '80s music. Not to mention those roundhouse kicks to the face with the infamous yelp from Van Damme himself. The success of Kickboxer legit spawned five sequels, none of which Van Damme returned for except for the sixth movie which was a reboot of the franchise that had Jean-Claude as the master and Bautista as the horrifying villain Tong Po. 

Van Damme plays a guy named Kurt whose brother Eric is the kickboxing champion in the United States. Kurt is Eric's cornerman and trainer where they have a close bond. After his grand success, word gets out to cement his legacy by going to where kickboxing was born - Thailand and challenging their greatest fighter in Tong Po. Little do the brothers know that Tong Po is not a respectable fighter and even after the match is over, continues to either murder or paralyze his opponents. Eric faces Tong and becomes paralyzed where Kurt vows vengeance and pleads with anyone to train him. Sooner than later, montage after montage, Van Damme and Tong Po face off with glass-covered gloves in the boxing ring. But the side stories of Jean-Claude dancing, a Thai mafia fixing the fight, and raping women take the story in different directions. 

But if anyone has seen one Van Damme fight from the '80s, then you've seen them all. The same formula is in place, which is great and inspiring, but also has that layer of comedic cheese that is undeniably fun. The script and acting are not really at an all-time high. Tong Po is menacing enough that nobody would want to cross paths with him, even when he is supposedly kicking a cement pillar holding up a building when it's highly noticeable that it is styrofoam. But the film holds up in its short runtime and aims to please the masses looking for a good time. Plus, the '80s just went guts out for these action sequences and was a champion of homoeroticsm in action films. The amount of oil on bodies, mustaches, denim vests, and slow-motion grunts is out of this world. It's a fine example of true entertainment in the '80s. Kickboxer still holds up as a brutal yet cheesy Van Damme flick.


Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray
Kickboxer gloves its way to Blu-ray + Digital Code via Lionsgate and Walmart. The one disc is housed inside a steelbook case that has Van Damme centered on the front in two poses with Tong Po looking over him in the background. The backside features his trainer. Inside the Steelbook has original movie poster artwork. There is an insert for a digital code as well. There is no plastic slipcase included. 

Video Review


This Steelbook comes with a 1080p HD transfer of the film and looks to be the exact same transfer as the 2009 Blu-ray which is a travesty. Lionsgate has teamed up with Walmart to release a few movies, but it looks to be only the packaging that is different. And Kickboxer's video presentation wasn't exactly top-notch back in 2009. A nice re-do of the image would have been very satisfactory, but alas, the same one is imported here on this Steelbook. 

The colors look quite good with a great mix of cool exteriors of Thailand with grey skies, blue and pink neon signs with tons of shades of green. The opposite color palette consists of warm reds, oranges, and yellows, especially during the fight scenes and montage sequences indoors. Black levels can be inky at times, but in other scenes are quite murky. Detail is evited in well-lit areas, but with the heavy filters, it can disappear and become softer than average.

There is still a ton of print damage and color-correcting issues with this print, but to the uninformed eye, it looks like a decent DVD copy of an '80s film, which might be a plus. but in this modern era, a great, new transfer would be key, especially since the last time this film was released was fifteen years ago. There are many instances of dirt, debris, lines, and other problems that persist too. If there is a great Steelbook getting released, let's all make sure a new video presentation is in the cards, please.

Audio Review


Kickboxer has a DTS-HD 5.1 audio track that does its job in a below-average way. It's the same audio track from the 2009 release and that was no prized chicken either. The audio mix is front heavy with very few examples of sound coming from the surround speakers. Sound effects are poorly rendered and sound the same with each hit, kick, and takedown. Like the old Kung-Fu shows sounded in their action scenes, Kickboxer's sound effects all sound very similar with almost no effort made to distinguish any of the sounds. The surround speakers kick in during the boxing matches that are surrounded by people yelling, chanting, and praising. A few vehicles and city life make room for ambient noises as well, but that's about it. Dialogue is clean, clear, and easy to follow while the inspiring score and music cues kick into high gear. The low end of the bass rarely shows its face, but when it does it has a slight rumble. 

Special Features


There are zero extras here. Even after thirty-plus years, there are still no extras despite the success of this movie. Where is the Criterion Collection on this?

Final Thoughts

Kickboxer stands the test of time and brings everyone back to the entertaining times of the '80s when Van Damme reigned supreme and the carnage was at an all-time high in karate. Unfortunately, the same video and audio presentation from 2009 were imported here which are not very savory. And there are no bonus features whatsoever on this release either. Although, the new Steelbook packaging looks great and the Digital Code is a plus. For Fans Only. 

Order Your Copy of Kickboxer on Blu-ray SteelBook