CANNON MONTH 2: To the Death (1992)

At this stage in their near-death, Cannon Films had become the world’s biggest importer of South African karate movies. This is the sequel to American Kickboxer — and not American Kickboxer 2 because why should that makes sense — and has John Barrett return as Quinn, whose name has changed from Robert to Rick. Only I care about this.

Michael Qissi has taken over for Brad Morris as Jacques Denard, the kickboxer who nearly destroyed Rick’s life back in the first movie. Ted Le Plat also is back as Willard, the caustic reporter whose entire beat is kickboxing, kind of like Matt Brock back in the kayfabe days of Pro Wrestling Illustrated.

Denard wants a fight for the belt so badly — Rick is happily retired with his pregnant wife Carol (Claudia Udy-Harris instead of Terry Norton) — that he comes to his home and needs to be warned off with the very with child Carol with a very loaded gun.

But he’s not the only one that wants Rick to start doing spin kicks again. Dominique Le Braque (Robert Whitehead) has an underground kickboxing club. Rick wants nothing to do with it, so Le Bradque takes Carol off the board with a car bomb Newt and Hicks style, negating the romantic journey they made — come on, this is a kickboxing movie, but go with me on this I guess — in American Kickboxer. Rick goes on a bender, as he does, and ends up attacking Denard, who put him in prison — yes, this movie has a lot connecting it to the first one — years ago and back to jail he goes.

Le Braque bails out Rick, puts him up at his home and then Rick learns the shocking secret of this kickboxing group: losers get shot in the head. Rick wants out of things, but he’s trapped, so he starts cucking Le Braque by going from the four corners of the ring to the four posts of the bed with the bad guy’s wife Angelica (Michele Bestbier). Le Braque retaliates by bringing in Denard as Rick’s opponent, but the two resolve their differences, kick everyone really hard and Angelica shoots her husband and gets away with it because the rich live under rules that don’t apply to the unwashed masses.

Director Darrell Roodt made the first South African anti-apartheid movie, Place of Weeping, as well as the very well-reviewed movie Serafina! Somehow, he followed that with this and people were confused because critics never really realize that artists need to eat. He’s done that throughout his career, making movies like Winnie Mandela and Little One as well as Lake Placid: The Legacy and Father Hood. His directing resume is a lot like Cannon’s releases: all over the place.

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