The Quest - *

Jean Claude VanDamme, in his directorial debut, returns to his kickboxing roots, and stumbles badly. He mistackles this tale of epic proportions, in which he stars as Chris Dubios, a NY ringleader of a group of child criminals, who accidentally gets caught on a freighter out at sea. Before he knows it, he has been sold to become a martial artist on Muay Thai Island. He reluctantly hooks up with a British rogue (Roger Moore) and a perky American journalist (Janet Gunn) to travel to the Lost City of Tibet and participate in the Ghang-Gheng (a brutal secret international fighting competition). The winner will receive a large dragon statue made of solid gold. However, while Dubois fights for the trophy, Roger Moore has other tricks on his mind. In his first outing, it is unclear whether VanDamme can’t manage the scope of this tale, or if he’s just a bad director. In either case, the result is a splendidly botched film. From its ridiculous screenplay (see VanDamme as a mime!) to some overzealous camera work, to outlandish logical loopholes (where does Roger Moore come up with a dirigible?) The Quest is very very bad. It does have some merits, however, once the Ghang-Gheng begins. The fight scenes are well choreographed, and it was interesting to see the easily-identifiable national fighting styles (which were, perhaps, a bit overstated). Yet, when kicks aren’t flying, we’re stuck with inane dialogue and even worse acting. Wait for the rental on this one, when you can speed through the non-action scenes. Better yet, rent a better film.

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