When you hear the quote, “You bleed like mylee, mylee good fuck” there is only one film that comes to mind. 1989’s Kickboxer is that very film that paved the way for many martial arts action films of the 80’s/90’s and kick started the career of Jean-Claude Van Damme. Long before the days of CGI, films were created based off the good guy vs. the villain in a no holds barred match scenario. This included brutal fight sequences where many fighters were left in their bloody death bed while one lucky warrior was kinged the champion. Fast forward to 2016 and these type of films have been left behind in the ashes to the more dominating special effects of the tech savvy generation. For me personally, I grew up with films dominated by action stars such as Jean-Claude Van Damme, Steven Seagal, Chuck Norris, Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Sylvester Stallone. What made these figures great were they were realistic and mortal heroes that didn’t need capes to kick some ass and take some names.
I heard they were bringing back the Kickboxer franchise recently and have been waiting patiently for the film to finally hit the big screen. I recently got the chance to view an advanced screening of the film, and though it has a darker tone compared to the 1989 film, it still has that original refreshing premise of good vs. bad that will bring you back to the time when action films were fun and refreshing.
Today, I sat down and spoke with the main star of the film, Alain Moussi, who portrays Kurt Sloane. He is no stranger to the film industry and has been working as a stunt double/coordinator since 2005 on such films as Pacific Rim, X-Men: Days of Future Past, and Suicide Squad. Kickboxer: Vengeance is his first feature film as an actor and his performance was quite remarkable. I spoke to him about making this film, working alongside the legendary Jean-Claude Van Damme, and becoming the next big action star!
Cinephellas (CP): Hello Alain! It’s good to finally talk with you and hear about making this film.
Alain Moussi (AM): Hey Logan! How are you doing today?
Cinephellas (CP): Not too bad. I just watched Kickboxer Vengeance and loved how you evolved into a bad ass warrior throughout the film.
(AM): Thank you man! I really appreciate it.
Cinephellas (CP): First of all, how did you get involved with this project?
Alain Moussi (AM): I met the producer Dimitri Logothetis while doing some stunts on one of his films. We did a showcase for all the stunts I did in the film and after the showcase he came over to meet me and introduce himself. Then the next day, I get a call to do another one of his films, which wasn’t Kickboxer. I couldn’t believe it and was a dream come true for me because I wanted to fully progress and star in an action film. I auditioned and got the role for that film. Dimitri believed in me and knew that I had a lot of potential. We never finished the film due to financing, but he told me that his company bought the Kickboxer library and rights. Fast forward two years later, Dimitri calls me and said that he wanted me to come showcase for the new Kickboxer film. They loved it, they did some screen tests, and I landed the lead role in Kickboxer Vengeance. And the rest is history! It was a dream come true for me because as a kid, I would watch the original Kickboxer with Jean-Claude Van Damm and it was my favorite of his films. Then to get my breakout lead role in this film and get to work with Jean-Claude was the icing on the cake.
(CP): Jean-Claude Van Damm was my favorite action star growing up and I still watch Kickboxer and Bloodsport till this day! Those films still hold up in 2016.
(AM): Some of my friends have never seen the original film, so I had a screening of Kickboxer at my house recently. I wanted them to see the film before checking out my work in Vengeance.
(CP): You have been a stunt coordinator on many films and television shows. What made you make the jump to being the star of the film?
(AM): It’s incredible and challenging to step into those shoes. I have been a stunt double in many films. When I got cast in this role after I finished filming WarCraft, I came home, and made myself unavailable to work on my acting. I hired a good friend of mine as an acting coach and worked on my acting everyday for the next five months. I knew I could get the physical part down with no problem because that’s where my training and background are in, but I needed to work on my acting. I really wanted to improve my acting and I really have a lot of respect for all the actors that I have worked with, because it is not easy, and it’s a craft. You have to work at it and I dedicated a lot of time to getting the acting down. I really hope a lot of people enjoy the hard work I put in for this film!
(CP): The original Kickboxer film was a massive hit in the 1989, was there any preparation going into this role? Such as watching the original film?
(AM): Number one, I did watch the original film early on just for fun, but then I thought I need to develop this character. The last thing I wanted to do was replicate the character from the original film and wanted to bring myself into the role of Kurt Sloane. I had multiple conversations with Dimitri Logothetis, the writer and producer, and talked about the character, the story, the tone, and textures that are completely different from the first film. I really want to go from there with my acting coach and develop something fresh. I believe when you bring yourself into a character, it’s fresh because it’s you personally. There’s always a piece that you have to bring into the role and then it takes on a life of it’s own. There was a lot of acting preparation going into this character and a lot of physical preparation. I worked out like crazy in the gym, the martial arts school, fight choreography, and worked out everyday. I already do that naturally and enjoy training, but it was different prepping for this role. I hired a trainer and coach to help me get into martial arts and have an athletic look, compared to being huge and muscular. The peak weight for me is 195 so I am lean and I can jump around with no problems. It all comes down to athletic conditioning and I had to be ready to fight for twelve hours a day which included a lot of cardio and endurance. I had to be able to recover and go at filming the next day with these intense fighting sequences and that was the way we went about training.
(CP): Did you do all of your stunts in this film?
(AM): I did! I did all the fighting and falls except for one scene in the movie. On this day I was fighting Dave Bautista and he was slamming me on my back which was the last shot of the night and the first day of photography. We were fighting all day and to get to this shot, my double was on set, and not to mention you always have to have a stunt double for insurance purposes. But we were lining up the wide shot and close-up of me, then Dave comes over to say “Alain, I don’t want you to do this shot!” “We have three more weeks of filming and we have been shooting for 12 hours today.” “If you get injured today we are all screwed!” And I listened to him and had my stunt double do the take for that scene. At that point, I had to put my ego aside and let the stunt double do the work. I am the actor on the film and not the stunt coordinator, so I had to get that through my head.
(CP): If Dave Bautista told me that, I would obviously listen to him as well, he is huge!!!!
(AM) HAHAHA! I love Dave, he is an awesome guy to work with.
(CP): Tong Po is a famous villain. What was it like working with Dave Bautista in the fight sequences and in this film? I interviewed him a few years back and he was super nice guy.
(AM): It was incredible and we didn’t have any rehearsal time. We had an hour to go over the fight sequences, go on set, rehearse it once, then shoot it, rehearse it, then shoot it. That was our process for three days and everything you see in the film was done on that day. Dave hasn’t done much screen fighting so he wanted me to help him out and go at these scenes as a team. So we did and let me tell you what it was so much fun and enjoyable experience. Dave was a professional wrestler and understands the difference between a 20% and 70% hit. There’s a certain level of contact without hurting each other and it looks great on screen. I love working with someone that has experience in these types of fights and understands what these different styles of hits are which makes the sequences look great on film. I was really happy and loved the final fight of the film between myself and Tong Po and was really happy with the final product.
(CP): I watched the ending of the movie five times and it realistically brutal!
(AM): You know when Dave Bautista (Tong Po) kicks me the throat? Well he actually kicked me in the throat! I lifted my chin at that moment and BANG landed right in my throat. It was such a cool shot and he was grinning at me when I was crawling away, then they cut the scene. Dave asked if I was ok and say “yes!” It was totally worth the hit!
(CP): Did you keep Tong Po’s braid as a souvenir?
(AM): Oh MAN I WISH! That would really do well on E-Bay. I should’ve kept it, put it in a glass case in my house, and use it as a collector’s item.
(CP): What was it like working the legendary Jean-Claude Van Damme? Were there any funny or memorable moments from the set?
(AM): He was really cool! When Jean-Claude got to Thailand, he would call me and we already knew each other. We talked about the film, his character, and very collaborative on the acting. We got along very well and had great chemistry on the set in Thailand. For me I had to take a moment because I was on the Kickboxer set with Van Damme and I had to pinch myself to wake up. Just watching him work and taking his kicks while filming was crazy. My wife was behind the monitor one day and she saw me working with Van Damme. She later asked me on the transport how I felt shooting that day, and I just had to take it all in with that place and that moment. I had to stop and appreciate every part of that moment because it was so unreal. I actually did that a few times filming this movie with him.
(CP): Kickboxer Vengeance is a new spin on the original premise, what makes this film stand out in 2016 to an audience that’s not familiar with the original film?
(AM): I think it stands out because in this era of film-making everything is done with CGI or on wires. This film brings a sense of reality to the screen and everything done within the fight sequences and the people are real. I feel like it’s a real visual martial arts movie that you don’t see that too often anymore. In a film like this, you see real characters go at it in a fight with no real cheats. It’s a unique film today in 2016 where twenty-five years ago, there were a ton of these types of films. You have a sense of reality with these characters and the world that they live in. It’s an entertaining film that you can eat popcorn, and just have fun with it. That’s what I like about this film the most. When I watch a film, I just want to turn my brain off for awhile and get wrapped up into the movie and not worry about the real world.
Special thanks to Alain Moussi for taking the time to sit down with Cinephellas. We’re really excited about Kickboxer: Vengeance as well as all of his upcoming projects! Kickboxer: Vengeance hits theaters and is available on VOD on September 2nd, 2016.