By: John M Jerva
(Original Publication Date: April 8th, 2018) In just a few short years, martial artist Alain Moussi has gone from one of Hollywood’s top tier stunt performers to action leading man with his debut in 2016’s Kickboxer: Vengeancewhich saw him take over the role of Kurt Sloane which Jean-Claude Van Damme made famous in the original film. I have offically dubbed Mr. Moussi the “Tony Jaa of the West” as his acrobatic moves combined with a lethal barrage of martial arts techniques have made him one of the most exciting action actors to watch. Moussi is back in the rousing sequelKickboxer: Retaliation which is taking the action genre by storm with its bone crunching, adrenaline pumping fight sequences that have taken the franchise to a whole new level.
Moussi has officially cemented himself as one of the best of the best when it comes to martial arts action and his star has shot to the heavens. In this exclusive interview with Action-Flix.com, Alain talks about the new film as well as his co-stars JCVD, “Iron” Mike Tyson and Christopher Lambert. Alain also talks about what we can expect in the third film in the trilogy, getting started with the extreme martial arts that he is now famous for and also who is on his dream list of action stars to work with.
Here is the Exclusive Action-Flix.com Interview with Kickboxer: Retaliation’s man of action, Alain Moussi!!!
1) Thank you so much Alain for taking the time to chat! First off, I wanted to ask you now that it has been over a year since the first film came out and now with the sequel out, how has your life changed since then?
Thank you so much John! Wow, that’s a good question! I don’t know. My life has pretty much stayed the same, I mean my home life is the same with my family and I’m training just as much if not more than I used to. There might be more attention now especially with the second film coming out and that created a lot more attention then when the first one came out especially with all the great reviews it has gotten and it’s at 100% on Rotten Tomatoes. It definitely has gotten a lot of attention but in terms of my everyday life honestly it has been the same. I live in a town where you know life can stay very simple so it has been great to say the least. I think the most that it has changed is I’m doing a lot more events now and I travel more.
2) The next question kind of goes with the first film and the second. Did you feel any pressure making a remake of a classic and did you feel any pressure to top it with the sequel?
Well first, I didn’t feel any pressure to top the original at all. That wasn’t a goal at all. We wanted to do a modern retelling of the story and make it fun and entertaining for a new audience so that was the goal and it wasn’t to top what had already been done. Now when you talk about the action, there’s no question that today’s action tops yesterday’s action in a sense that there’s way more to it. In that sense, I think we set out to make a martial arts film that had action sequences that were fun and really entertaining and the audience would love. With all the trials and tribulations that went on with Vengeance, I think we succeeded and still came out with a cool movie which was great.
Now according to the second film, the goal was to top Vengeance. Now again it wasn’t to top the original film with Jean-Claude, it was more to create a film that would become iconic so both me and Dimitri Logothetis, the director, talked about it a lot and we talked about how we wanted to top ourselves and this time around, Dimitri was directing so after reading the first draft of the script for the second film and with Dimitri directing, I knew it was going to be a better film. On top of that, I took over the action. More like supervising. I didn’t choreograph the whole film and we had a great team from Thailand with a guy we called Jim who was our Thai coordinator and he and his team were incredible and they designed our sequences and they designed a lot of the beats to the fights in a lot of different places. We also had a team in Canada and we designed a lot of the sequences here and I what I did in the end, I kind of took what they did in Thailand and what we did here and blended the best of both worlds to make sure we could get the best out of everybody’s creativity. So with all those elements, I knew Retaliation would be better than Vengeance. Dimitri also shot it to make it look larger than life and larger than what it was. I saw a little bit of footage and I thought “God, this is going to kill it!” This is going to be so much better. And now audiences and critics have spoken so I don’t even have to say anything which is great.
3) I wanted to talk to you about the one shot fight scene in the prison. You kind of did one in the first film but here you rally amped it up and created an incredible fight sequence with no cuts or edits. How did that come about?
It was written in the script that there would be a jail fight and Dimitri and I talked and we decided that we wanted a really cool oner or one shot fight. Our reference for the oner was Tony Jaa’s fight in The Protector. Now it really wasn’t meant to be an homage to that film but that film has one of my favorite oners so because I had that in my head that it had to be something of that caliber and that’s what I wanted to create. What we discussed was instead of making it a oner where you just follow mainly the hero. How about we make it like The Revenant. In The Revenant, there’s a really cool oner that what you see is the aftermath of what happens so when someone gets shot, you see him fall and you follow the victim. So we said how about when we do ours, you follow the viction so when I hit someone, you follow them as they fall. You follow the reaction then you go back to the hero. Now what is impressive is the result of the hit. When someone got hit in the face, they were getting hit for real. It’s not fake. Like the guy that I toss in the stairwell. When I went back and watched the footage, I was like how is he not dead. So that prison fight was where we wanted to put the oner and me and Dimitri designed some stuff in Canada and then they designed some stuff in Thailand and we took it and made a fight that people would remember. I think we succeeded because everyone talks about that scene (laughs).
4) Lets talk about the final fight for a minute and this contains a very big spoiler for those who haven’t seen it but who’s idea was it to kill you?
Dimitri! Yeah that was Dimitri! (Laughs) I read the script and when I got to that point, I read Kurt Sloan dies and I was like what do you mean Kurt Sloan dies? (laughs) I want to return for the third film (Laughs). I was like where is this going, but finally, after I read more and I found out he comes back to life, I was like OK here we go! After I read that, I called Dimitri and told him you kill me off and then you resurrect me in the same fight and he was like “yeah isn’t that cool?” (laughs). It was crazy and I loved it because I thought, why not. It’s totally unexpected and no on would expect that to happen. You kill off the hero in the movie so people won’t know what to think. I think if there was one genre where you could get away with that type of thing, it’s in a martial arts film. It’s fun and I loved the idea, I thought it was really great.
5) Your opponent for the second film is a mountain. Obviously, you had Dave Bautista in the first one who is huge but Hafþór Júlíus Björnsson is even bigger! How do you keep getting bigger opponents to fight in these films?
Well (laughs) I think we hit the biggest with Hafþór. There’s not much bigger you can go then him.
6) Are you going to go smaller for the third one? Just kidding. How did Hafþór get involved and how does he differ from all of the other brutes we have seen in past fight films?
Awwwww, here come the spoilers! (Laughs). So having Hafþór in the film was Rob Hickman’s idea. Rob is a producer on the film and he brings us a lot of sports personalities because he has a ot of ties to the UFC and different sports. He was the one that brought us Brian Shaw and the others and he introduced Hafþór to Dimitri and we all know he played “The Mountain” in Game of thrones and I was like how am I going to fight this guy. Not just me but from a design standpoint. I was wondering how to go about fighting someone that big. It was kind of a challenge and finally I just accepted that this was the guy I was going to fight and this guy who is the biggest dude around. When we went to the design table, we thought, well we could just make him this big brute or we could try to make him move. My whole goal then was to make him a big guy who is athletic. That’s menacing because you expect a big guy to not really move. How about we actually make him throw punches and kicks and make him move because that is going to make him even more dangerous. That was the whole goal for the design in the end fight. It was to make him more than just big and brutal, it was to make him that much more dangerous. When I went to train for it, I made 6 foot 10 dummies to train with and that made it different. You don’t want to do what you already did in Vengeance. You want to make something different and that’s what we did.
7) Retaliation has a great supporting cast. You had an awesome one in Vengeance but you really stepped it up with Retaliation. Obviously, you have Mike Tyson in it and Christopher Lambert, the Highlander himself, to play the antagonist. How did all that that evolve?
So Dimitri called me one day and he mentioned Mike and he thought it would really be cool to have him in the film and considering he is an icon and a legend in the boxing world, it really brought a different texture to the film. Also, he has a huge audience internationally so that’s great too. Now Dimitri told me, we are not going to make him a goof, meaning that often they use him as a cool cameo in a movie to goof around with. This time, the goal was to make him look bad ass and make him a cool character that people would want to watch and Dimitri is great at getting the best out of people on set. He knows how to talk to people and how to push them to get the best performance out of them in such a calm way that everyone on set is comfortable with him so yeah he got Mike involved and I was super happy. Then he tells me we are going to have Christopher Lambert in the film and I was like we are going to have Rayden in the movie…yeah!!!! (laughs).
8) With Christopher’s character, I get the sense that he wasn’t a real bad guy per say. Even though he was the antagonist and he did some bad things, it was like, you still wanted to be his friend. What were your thoughts on his character?
Of course, he was not trying to bad. In his mind, he was doing the right thing. It wasn’t about doing something evil, he was making money. All he cares about is making dough. That’s all he cares about. The fact that he’s putting on an illegal underground fight is all symentics. It’s not because he necessarily wants to hurt people, he just wants to put on a cool show. That’s his motivation. He’s so cool in the way he carries himself and you’re right, he’s the kind of bad guy that you think he’s kind of cool at the same time.
9) We have to talk about Van Damme, who you grew up watching. This is the second time you worked with him so how was he and how cool was it to work with him both times?
He was great! Jean-Claude was awesome to me. Right away when he got involved, he gave me a call and we started chatting on the phone about the role that was offered to me and he told me if there was anything I needed or any advice to give him a call. He told me that he wanted this to be great for me so he was awesome from the beginning. It was great to have my childhood idol who inspired me to do martial arts to be like that with me. It was an honor for me to be on set with him and it was the icing on the cake that I get to remake the film that I love and do this iconic role and then to do it with my childhood hero at the same time. The second time around was even better and we had great chemistry and we were even more comfortable with each other on screen and we just did the dance, you know. It was lots of fun. Jean-Claude just brings such great charisma and he brings something so special to the movie and he’s very different and you never know what you’re going to get with him.
10) Now another spoiler in the film is that he was blinded which was a great surprise. The audience finds that out and that was very different for the film.
Yeah absolutely! I think that was Dimitri again and he’s very creative and he comes up with these things that are awesome.
11) We all know that you have started training to film the third film in the saga. Is there anything you can tell us about what to expect from the climax in the trilogy?
Oh, well with the third one, I have to tell you right now from reading the first draft of the script, this is by far the best script I’ve read for all three Kickboxer films just from the starting point. It amps up the action, it amps up the character which is really cool. Kurt Sloan’s journey is really interesting and it’s kind of like my journey as an actor because I still consider myself a total rookie. I’m learning as an actor all the time and I’m constantly training so I feel like the character is evolving like my evolution as an actor. The first film didn’t ask much of me in terms of performance. Dimitri told me that he wanted me to be as natural as possible. He said that he wanted to get as much of me into this role. Now with the second film, there’s a little more trauma. He’s thrown into jail in Thailand and there is more going on there. For me because of my experience and training, I can deliver more in the second film. Now in the third film, Kurt Sloan has to go deeper and darker. That’s where he is going right now and bad things happen and instead of being pulled into this world, he decides to go back into that world to put an end to it so that’s where the story is going. He’s going into a very dark place because he needs to put an end to all that has been done to him. I can’t tell exactly what it is (laughs) but that’s where the story is headed. He’s going on a rampage from one person to the next to find the people responsible and put an end to it. That’s why the look I have now is completely different. I’ve been growing my hair out and the beard and that’s all for Kickboxer 3. This movie is going to a totally different place than the last two which is great.
Now in terms of action, we know the things that our audience loves so we just want to deliver more and better versions of it and that is what we are working on now. In terms of a oner like we talked about earlier, you are going to see a crazy, amped up oner in this movie. In terms of the end fight and the stakes, we are going totally bonkers with that and it is going to be great. As you know in a trilogy, when you get to the third film, you often revisit things about the first and that definitely happens in this film in a great way. I think story wise, Kurt is going full circle and it’s going to please the audience. Our goal like I said was to top the last film and to top ourselves and that is what we are doing again with the third film. We want to top what we did in Vengeance and Retaliation but not with making the mistake of just putting everything on steroids. We want to make a cooler and newer version of what we did in the second film.
12) Now do you see the films going further than just a trilogy?
I think there could be for sure but after the third film, we are taking a break from the Kickboxer films.
13) Are you doing a new project?
Yeah, oh yeah for sure! We are putting together another series called Jujutsu. It’s an an action sci-fi film that was developed by Dimitri and another writer. Jujutsu is an action, martial arts, sci-fi film. It’s based on this comic book concept they created and it’s almost like a cross between the Bourne films and Predator. It’s very cool and it’s completely different from Kickboxer. It’s going to be really unique and awesome and it’s being put together as we speak and we are prepping right now for Kickboxer 3 and we start filming at the end of March and at the same time, we have a team that is prepping Jujitsi to start in the Fall. Other things may come up. You never know.
14) I had the opportunity to interview Scott Adkins a little bit ago and I group you guys into the extreme martial arts category. I did Karate for over 25 years and I started back in ’89 and that extreme type of art wasn’t around back then. How did you get involved with that type of martial art?
Actually for me I got into it through a friend of mine named JF LaChapelle. He was a world champion in Karate back in the late 90’s and early 2000’s. He was like one of the guys that was a pioneer in doing what we called tricking. He was the first to do a whole lot of moves in competition like musical katas. He would do like a 720 and drop into the splits and he was the first to pull off what we called a jackknife move. He was one of those leaders and he was one of mu best friends so when I saw him compete and do some of those moves, I wanted to learn that so he started coaching me. Now I’m almost 6 foot 1 and I have different proportions than JF because he is 5 foot 6 and a lot lighter than I am so obviously it is a different thing to move 205 pounds then it is being 140 pounds but he coached me through it and I was able to develop some of those moves through progressive training and that was it.
Now going back to Scott Adkins who you mentioned, he has always been so impressive. I have been watching Scott for a while and he is definitely an inspiration with his martial arts skills. He is truly incredible. I pretty much watch everything that he does and I’m always paying attention so I hope he is paying attention to me (laughs). I’d love to work with him!
15) In closing, I wanted to ask you besides Scott Adkins, is there anyone else you would like to work with in the future?
Dwayne Johnson! I would love to work with The Rock, I would love to work with him, he is a huge inspiration to me and I have been following him for a long time. I love his journey. I think he is a huge inspiration to the world actually. I would love, love to work with him. I think it would be awesome. I would also love to work with Hugh Jackman. I doubled for Hugh for a short three days and I would love to work with him on a film and that would be amazing. Now from the action world again, Jason Statham would be another one. He is amazing and I would love to work with Jason. Who knows, maybe one day Scott and I will team up and I would love to do that too. Some others I would like to work with would be Jackie Chan. I have been watching Jackie for such a long time and if I could get into a film and work opposite to Jackie that would, of course, be incredible as well.
Before we go Alain, I just wanted to say what a tremendous talent you and you are the real deal. I dubbed you the “Tony Jaa of the West” for a reason! At the same time, it was a real honor to talk to you and you couldn’t have been any nicer. Thank you so much and I look forward to chatting again in the future!
Same to you! I really appreciate the support and I saw all the write ups you did and the review for Retaliation. I saw the piece on me you did and I read them all which was amazing and I thank you and I really appreciate that. It’s so much fun to see such positivity come out from what we are doing. Thank you so much!
To keep up with Alain and all of his projects, follow him on all of his social sites:
KICKBOXER: RETALIATION is now available on Blu-Ray, DVD and Digital
from Well Go USA!