Although it took four viewings before I finally lowered my rating of this from "9" to "8,", I suspect I will still watch this lame-brain action flick a few more times and enjoy it. That's because it offers a great mixture of fascinating fighters in the tournament that covers most of the final 40 minutes of the movie; is a modern-day martial-arts action film with almost no swearing and no sex; and offer some tremendous scenery in the first half of the film as Jean Claude Van Damme and company travel to the Far East for this "World's Greatest Fighter" tourney.
That tourney is a lot of fun to watch except that it got carried away in the final bout, of course, that went on almost as long as all the preliminary bouts! However, the filmmakers were smart to make all the contestants totally different with different styles, making each one fun to watch. You didn't see the same thing each fight. There was everything from a huge Sumo-type wrestler to a little guy who imitated a monkey and a snake jumping and slithering around the ring. By the way, these were real guys, not actors imitating fighters.
The photography is magnificent, far better than you would except. The colors are beautiful and the Thailand scenery spectacular. The movie benefits from a classy actor like Roger Moore joining the cast, too. Yeah, it's stupid in parts, but it's fun and highly recommended for first-time viewers who don't know the outcome of the bouts.
Chris embarks on an odyssey of self-discovery that spans the globe. Kidnapped and enslaved by gun smugglers, sold by pirates and thrust into the murky underworld of gambling and kickboxing, Chris' journey takes him to forbidding Muay Thai Island where deadly martial arts are taught, the colonial splendor of British East Asia, the dank back alleys of Bangkok, desolate deserts once trod by the warriors of Genghis Khan and finally, the ancient Lost City. There he must face the ultimate test of his manhood in the fabled Ghang-gheng, the ancient winner-take-all competition in which the deadliest fighters from around the world employ the most spectacular feats of martial arts skills ever displayed in order to win the prized Golden Dragon. But fighting prowess alone will not be enough for Chris to triumph over such daunting foes. He must reach deep inside and access all of the determination, strength of character and sense of selfless honor within in order to triumph over this final obstacle on his long trek home.
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