KICKBOXER was the third theatrical headlining vehicle for the Belgian Van Damme (born Jean-Claude Van Varenberg). After co-starring in villainous roles in NO RETREAT, NO SURRENDER (1986) and BLACK EAGLE (1988), Van Damme caught on with the release of BLOODSPORT (1988) in February 1988. What was essentially a throw away release for Cannon (its widest theater count topped off at 124 theaters) ended up making them $11.8 million dollars at the box office. They quickly threw him into another starring vehicle and we got Van Damme in Albert Pyun’s CYBORG (1989). That came out in April 1989 and made just over $10 million, so Van Damme was now a proven box office commodity. KICKBOXER proved his growing popularity even more when it debuted at number 3 at the box office that following September in 973 theaters (by comparison, the number 1 film UNCLE BUCK, in theaters for a month already, was still in 1,800 theaters). It grossed just over $4 million its first weekend and went onto pull in $14.6 million.
While I haven’t seen the film since the theater, KICKBOXER still holds some name power as plans for a remake have been off and on for the last 5 years. The latest incarnation was announced earlier this year with Hong Kong director Stephen Fung attached. Names such as former UFC fighter Georges St. Pierre, Tony Jaa, Dave Baustita and VJ fave Scott Adkins have been attached to the project. Here’s hoping they might get to work in Van Damme in a role somewhere. If that happened, we’d totally do this dance.