This Friday 30th September, Kickboxer: Vengeance – a reboot of the cult classic Kickboxer – will be making its cinematic release here in the UK.
Now, here at Chords we’re so excited for this because, not only was the original awesome, but also because we have one of our unsung action heroes, Alain Moussi, taking to the screen as the infamous Kurt Sloane.
Moussi has been working in the shadows for some time now: He has been a stunt double for the likes of Jai Courtney (Suicide Squad), Travis Fimmel (Warcraft: The Beginning), Hugh Jackman (X-Men: Apocalypse) and Henry Cavill (Immortals) but Kickboxer: Vengeance sees him take centre stage alongside the star of the original film, veteran chop-socky star JCVD.
To celebrate this Friday’s release, Moussi was good enough to speak to Cinema Chords about Kickboxer: Vengeance, his training regime, on-screen love interest and ping-pong.
CinemaChords (Amanda Hunt): Congratulations on taking the lead in your first feature and one that follows in the footsteps of such a cult classic. I’m guessing you must have felt a lot of pressure to be a part of this film?
Alain Moussi: Absolutely! The pressure. The fear. It’s a combination of everything. Excitement! I think everybody expects so much and it’s like you’ve got to put it into your head that you are not going to please a lot of superfans. Some people will enjoy it because it’s a new movie but a lot of other people are still stuck on the original and they don’t want you to ruin their favourite film. It’s like no matter what you do, you can’t please certain people; but that’s ok, I have accepted that.
CC: You are already known for your stunt work and martial arts and it must have been a dream to be in a film to truly showcase your talents.
AM: Yeah, it is very different. Being a stunt double you are in the shadows; you are a Ninja. But this is a place where you can definitely take some credit for your performance and that was really exciting for me. I’ve always wanted to be the lead; the action hero. It has been a real dream of mine and to finally be able to do it this way and with this cast is just incredible!
CC: Yes, and it is a great cast. You’re opponent is Bautista and he is absolutely massive! But in terms of fight choreography, did you find it difficult to work with someone whose training lies mainly in wrestling?
AM: No, no! Dave was REALLY good. Dave was awesome. I think the background in wrestling helped him a lot. As much as he told me that he has never done extensive film fighting, I would say, “It’s cool. You are a wrestler, and you have done live film fighting.” These guys are used to adjusting to each other, having a certain rhythm and they deal with a lot of different opponents who have different rhythms. I have worked with a lot of different actors and sometimes on the day we don’t have time to rehearse, you just have to do it. So I find that I am always adjusting myself to a lot of different people on the spot. I think it took one take with Dave and me. We spent three 12-hour days beating each other up and it was so much fun.
CC: Jean-Claude Van Damme is THE kickboxing king; did he find ways to keep you in line on set?
AM: (laughs) Keep ME in line?
CC: Yeah, to show you who is the boss?
AM: (laughs) No. Jean-Claude is very nice but I am hard to keep in line. It is very hard to control me. I knew Jean-Claude because I had worked with him once before when he did the commercials for Go Daddy. I was there to do his rehearsals – yeah, they needed a guy who could do the splits on chairs like him. So it was to do all the camera rehearsals, setting things up so that Jean-Claude could just go in and do his thing. Funnily enough, when I met him he had me doing a whole bunch of kicks and we got on really well.
When were on set of Kickboxer we got along, we spoke French and we became good buddies and we had a lot of fun, especially the action scene in the rain and that was quite awesome to shoot. It was a privilege to be there and I have to say that a lot of people were saying that it’s like the passing of the torch, but you never know how that’s going to go. I am in awe because of Jean-Claude. He was so cool and we had a good time. It was really special for me to do this film and it was even more special with Jean-Claude.
CC: Did you have to recondition your body to play the part of a kickboxer?
AM: Well I am always training so I am never too far away in performance levels. I have to be ready to jump into any film that needs stunt work. So when I got this, all I wanted to do was keep on doing that. The character is a fighter and fighters train a certain way, so for me it was about doing a lot of functional conditioning and a lot of martial arts training. That would give me the look; I did not want to go for a big bulky look. I wanted an athletic, martial artist, fighter, and warrior type. My training was six days a week of functional conditioning, swimming in a pool, kickboxing, Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu and then, when you get closer to the shoot, I had this gradual cut. I have a nutrition consultant; he’s coached a lot of Olympic athletes and I learnt a lot about nutrition. When I would cut weight before, I would cut out the carbs and do the body builder method but I couldn’t do this because I had to train so much. You can’t afford to be weak. You can’t afford to lack energy and you can’t afford the injury that comes with it. I totally changed the way I ate. I ate more and at the right times. It was over a six-month period of time that I did this and I am happy with the results.
CC: Thailand is such a beautiful country and the birthplace to Muay Thai. Did you go train in a traditional gym or catch an authentic Thai Boxing match?
AM: No. I wish I had but it was such a tight schedule. I came into Thailand and went straight into rehearsals. I just didn’t have the time and as soon as we started shooting, I was on set all day, every day. It was like 13 or 15-hour days and six days a week. On my day off, I’d try to get a massage, sleep, recover and have a bit of wine. I love wine. When I went to Thailand, I was also working on Suicide Squad at the same time. It was crazy! (laughs)
CC: Jean-Claude’s voice is dubbed in certain parts. What was the reasoning behind that?
AM: Hmm, he was dubbed in a few spots. I think what happened is that when we were in Thailand doing all the recordings; sometimes there was a lot of background noise. A lot of the scenes where there was a Mosque, you have prayer, so prayer is going on in the background when we were doing the dialogue. Now, what you have to do is go to the recording studio and record the lines again. I don’t know if there weren’t able to get hold of Jean-Claude because of his schedule or other things, which meant he couldn’t make it. The only reason why he couldn’t have made the recording is because he was physically unable to get to the recording studio. God knows that every producer would want actors to do their own voice work. There must have been something like that which happened.
CC: You replicate the dance scene from the original movie; tell me about your snake hip moves?
AM: (laughs) You have got to understand, I love dancing. I have been dancing since I was a child. I have been doing that dance since I was a kid. I have done it at parties multiple times and I can do the splits. The number one question that I have been asked since I got Kickboxer was, ‘Are you going to do the dancing?’
I did but we had to find a way to make it work because it is very tricky to do something like that because if you look at the script, it didn’t fit. The story has got to be different and you need to make sure that you don’t insert something that doesn’t belong. But at the same time, you want to pay an homage to it and that is what it had to be. It was cool.
CC: Sara Malakul is your love interest in the film. Is this your first time that you have been in a film where you actually had your own love interest?
AM: I have to say yes, it my first love interest in a film.
CC: And how was that for you?
AM: It’s tricky because I have a wife, but she is really cool. Honestly, it was fine. Things like this, which go on when you are shooting, you know what is real and what is not. Remember that when you are making out, there are thirty people in the room. There are three cameras, thirty people, a director and you are totally aware that there are people in the surrounding. Sara is a dream to work with. She is so cool, such a nice girl and we get along great. We are friends in real life, so nothing was awkward. I think, for a first experience, it was very positive.
CC: The last question I have is whether or not you managed to catch a bit of ping-pong in Bangkok, but since you said you didn’t have much free time, I guess you didn’t.
AM: No. (laughs) I did not manage to catch a ping-pong show. I am going back for Kickboxer 3, so you never know….
Thank you so much for speaking to Cinema Chords, Alain. We’re so pleased that you’re finally unmasked and living out of the shadows….
Kickboxer: Vengeance releases in cinemas and on VOD from Friday 30th September, 2016.