Australian martial arts action star Richard Norton stars in this ultra-low budgeted thriller that redeems itself in the climactic battle.
Ryan Travers (Norton) has just been released from a prison in Bangkok, Thailand, after serving a five-year sentence for murder. His parents, running an antique shop in the area while waiting for their son to be released, are killed in an explosion perpetrated by the local mob after refusing to pay protection money. Ryan’s news go from bad to worse when he learns his sister Katie (Erica Van Wagener) is seriously ill and will need an operation.
With only a dead end job at a construction site after his release, Ryan learns about a local underground fight ring and decides to enter to raise the money for his sister’s medical fees. Despite his first struggles, Ryan begins to persevere and make a name for himself in the world of underground fighting. However, the same mobsters who killed Ryan’s parents are the ones running the fight ring and they see the new fighter as a major threat. In a winner take all showdown set in Manila, Ryan must hone some new skills in order to face the mob’s champion and world kickboxing champion, Jet (Benny Urquidez). Will Ryan have what it takes to redeem himself in the eyes of those who care about him?
Richard Norton is truly a force to be reckoned with. With stints in both the United States and Hong Kong, Norton teams up with Southeast Asian-based director Anthony Maharaj for this film. Despite its ultra low budget and quality value, Norton makes the best of his role as the truly flawed Ryan, who must overcome all challenges or risk losing everything dear to him. What may stand out here is that instead of a real love interest, Ryan has interest in a favorite Thai prostitute and even goes as far as getting upset when she is with another customer.
Norton not only stars in the film, but serves as one of three fight choreographers (co-stars Benny Urquidez and Glen Ruehland round out the choreography team). In going a different direction for the majority of the action scenes, Norton goes for a more realistic street fighting approach to his fight choreography, especially when taking on challengers bigger than him. While at the time it may not have been widely accepted and to fans, may be somewhat lousy, the redemption value comes in what is the best fight of the film, the final bout in Manila.
The kickboxing legend that is Benny “The Jet” Urquidez is not only Norton’s final opponent, but helped choreograph this final bout, taking place inside a ring with real-life referee Carlos “Sonny” Padilla making a cameo as himself. One can argue that after his legendary fight scenes with Jackie Chan in both WHEELS ON MEALS (1984) and DRAGONS FOREVER (1987), that this is the kickboxing legend’s third best film fight of his career. Using his trademark skills in the ring and smoothly transitioning them on the screen against Norton, the fight ultimately brings a redemption value a notch or two of the overall film.
Richard Norton, co-star Franco Guerrero, and director Anthony Maharaj would reunite in 1993 for the little more superior DEATHFIGHT. In conclusion, KICK FIGHTER is not a great film, but the last fight between Richard Norton and Benny “The Jet” Urquidez is quite fun to watch. The film is also known as THE FIGHTER.