Kickboxer's Tears (1992)
Reviewed by: ewaffle on 2005-08-21
Summary: Superb kickboxing action
In a way this was like watching “Kung Fu Theater” on late night television years ago, although without commercials. A dubbed Nth generation print, panned and scanned with just enough happening on the edges of the screen to be annoying. But even with those limitations and the not untypical quick almost transitionless cuts that switch the mood of the movie from romantic comedy to mawkish melodrama to brutal violence, “Kickboxer’s Tears” is worth watching. Moon Lee and Yukari Oshima (credited on this disc as Cynthia Luster) are worth the price of admission, but the real high point of this movie is the jaw-droppingly well done kickboxing choreography during the first 30 minutes.

I have been to a lot of amateur and professional boxing matches and have worked the corner is a few of them. No movie that I have seen, including “Raging Bull”, “Requiem for a Heavyweight” “Rocky”, “Body and Soul”, “Cinderella Man”, “Million Dollar Baby”, “Hurricane” and a bunch of others comes close to depicting the sustained destructive savagery that occurs in the ring. It was enthralling—a fast paced, unrelenting and highly skilled assault by two fit and trained athletes. Watching it at one-quarter speed made the artistry all the more apparent. Punches were slipped and pulled, kicks just missed vital points, and head butts didn’t really land. But at regular speed and combined with the added sound of leather gloves hitting flesh it was as close to the real thing as one can find.

The death of Moon Lee’s brother in the ring, the lynchpin for the rest of the action, was very much on the money. In almost every case when a boxer dies in the ring he is beaten to death over several minutes—sometimes over several rounds. He is less and less able to defend himself and the punches of his opponent land more frequently and with more power. His death was very much—uncomfortably so—like the killings of Benny “Kid” Paret, Deuk-Koo Kim or Beethaven Scottland, all of which were broadcast on American television. “Kickboxer’s Tears is as close to the real thing as one can get.
Moon Lee is adorable enough, cute enough and sweet enough to melt the hardest heart. Or almost the hardest. For those immune to her girlish charms—such as the local crime boss (Ken Lo) or his wife (Yukari Oshima)—the option of kicking to death is always available. As in most of her movies Moon is beaten up, smashed against walls and generally abused. And as usual she bounces back to dish out much more than she takes. Moon Lee is as cute as Katie Couric would like to be and as tough as Mike Tyson once was. Yukari’s character is almost as tough, almost as adept in martial arts and almost as fit as Li Feng (or “Joan” as she is called in the dubbed Tai Seng disc that this review is based on) played by Moon. “Almost” is the key term, of course, because only one of them is going to survive the final pit fight.
Yukari is a decent actress—she is convincing in her grief over the death of her cousin/lover Billy Chow (played by Billy Chow)—and makes the audience believe that she wants to wreak vengeance personally. Unlike Moon Lee, she is not cute or cuddly, but is an stick of TNT with a short fuse—dangerous to everyone around.
One of the best stunts in the film is during the final showdown—a real bloodbath—when Moon Lee sees that a bad guy has thrown a hand grenade at her. Instead of ducking or running away she flips up in the air and while almost upside down simply kicks the grenade right back at him. A sublime moment.

Recommended, but not on this Tai Seng sliced and diced disc.
Reviewer Score: 6