Interview with Kickboxer: Vengeance star Alain Moussi
by Bobby Blakey
As a martial artist and hardcore Van Damme fan I have seen and yes own every film he has done throughout his career. One of my personal favorites was always his 1989 film Kickboxer which spawned numerous sequels sadly without Van Damme. Now they are unleashing an all new vision of the film, remaking it with martial artist actor and stuntman Alain Moussi in the role and Van Damme taking on the mentor role. I had the chance to speak with the new Kurt Sloane, Alain Moussi about taking on this film and working side by side with Van Damme himself in the highly anticipated Kickboxer: Vengeance.
Bobby: How did you get involved with Kickboxer: Vengeance?
Alain: Dimitri Logothetis happen to have the rights to the Kickboxer remake and told me he was going to be doing it in about two years. Then all of a sudden I got a call to come in a do a showcase to show them I should be the lead in the film, so I did and here I am.
Bobby: The original film is iconic among martial arts fans; did you have any kind of reservations of taking on this role?
Alain: I was definitely thinking about it going in and how fans would be judging the movie and compare it, but also that it was such a great opportunity that I couldn’t pass it up. I wanted it to be a film that fans just like me would love. The producers had the right vision for it and they believed in me. They really wanted to bring the essence of the 80s martial arts film to modern day and I thought that was really cool. No CG, no wires, no nothing just straight out action. I think having Jean Claude in the film was a blessing saying that it was ok and it was good for both the new and old audiences. There was a lot of confidence going into this film that we were making something really good, so I was happy.
Bobby: When you are taking on a role like this did you go in with trying to bring some of the same nuances he brought to the role or did you just try to make it all your own?
Alain: I wanted to go in and make it my own straight out. I had a long conversation with the director and producers about where they were going with it and I really tried to not look at what he did in the original. It was a lot about how could I bring myself into this character and make him what he needed to be for this film. I really didn’t think about it all that much with what he did or didn’t do, I really focused on bringing myself into this character and for me it was the right way to go.
Bobby: Obviously you are an amazing martial artist, but what is your background that helped you be perfect for this role?
Alain: I started doing Japanese Jujitsu when I was 10 years old and I have been doing it ever since. At 18 years old I started doing Brazilian Jujitsu and Kickboxing so the training was already there. When I sat down with the producers and Dimitri we talked about wanting to bring the striking to the forefront of this film. The trend in film these days seem to be more about MMA, which I love but we all thought that the tone of this film wasn’t about that. We also wanted to showcase some acrobatic moves, but make sure it wasn’t an acrobatic show. It needed to be something with hard hits and hard striking so that is what we wanted to bring. I trained some Muay Thai with some friends out in Canada that have been training for a long time to really bring in those elements. Obviously the character doesn’t become a Muay Thai expert in the short time he trains, but the idea is for him to understand the art enough to be able to take on Tong Po. There was a huge thought process put into the action of this film by myself, the producers and stunt coordinators.
Bobby: While it is awesome to have Van Damme there, did you have any nervousness about playing this character in front of him that he had already played previously?
Alain: Just being in front of Van Damme was nerve-racking enough. I had met and worked with him once before on a commercial and he is a very nice guy. We shot the first part in New Orleans and the second part in Thailand which is the only place he shot. He called me while I was in New Orleans and said “Hey, I just wanted to see what you were doing and see if I can help you out in anyway.” So we started discussing some of the scenes and he had some cool insight and thought on the character. He was really helpful and that made it relaxed. When we started shooting together in Thailand he was so nice and we got along right away. He was all about let’s do a good film, so I never felt any pressure to perform in a certain way in front of him. We were very collaborative which was great and after the first scene we shot together it was even better.
Bobby: I know you do a ton of stunt work, which is different than when you are in front of the camera as an actor. How do you prepare for a role like this as opposed to your stunt preparation?
Alain: I got an acting coach right away. I worked for around five moths a couple of times a week with my coach to break down the character and script. That was a huge part of my preparation and then then talking extensively with the writers, producers and Dimitri about the character to get me in the right head space. I did a lot of preparation on just the acting and I don’t want to say that the martial arts part wasn’t as important, but I train that all the time, so it was very important to really be able to understand and get into that character and deliver a good acting performance.
Bobby: Without spoiling it in the original film there is the famous Van Damme dance sequence and in the film there is a moment that pays homage to that. Was that something planned out?
Alain: The number one question I have gotten was if we going to do the dance scene. I am the first one to say that there is no way to rival that scene so the only way to bring it into the film is to pay homage to it and that is what we wanted to do. We wanted to do that in a great way where fans would enjoy it and that is how it came to be. It was a conversation between the writers and producers to see how we would make that happen.
Bobby: Did Van Damme even know you guys were going to do that?
Alain: Oh yeah he did. I told him and he thought it was great. I saw the movie with Van Damme and he loved it. I think it is such an iconic scene in action films, everyone knows about that dance scene so there was no way to go in and try to replicate that so the homage was the only way to go. We wanted to make it something fun while paying that homage and I think it succeeded.
Bobby: Awesome. It was really great and worked perfectly.
Alain: Thanks. Just curious what was your favorite part of the film?
Bobby: I really enjoyed it all, but being a martial artist I really love the training sequences. I like seeing the different ways people train especially with kicking drills and stretching. I am a Van Damme fan myself and obsessed with kicking so when I see these kinds of things it makes me want to go try new things and try to improve on things I already doing myself.
Alain: Oh awesome, that is great! I love it! That is way cool.
Bobby: I really enjoyed the film and already looking forward to the second one Kickboxer: Retaliation. Thanks for taking the time to speak with me today.
Alain: Thanks so much for the opportunity to speak with you as well. The second one was so much fun to shoot and we have some crazy stuff in that one so watch out.
Check out Kickboxer: Vengeance available now in theaters, VOD and Digital HD from RLJ Entertainment.