If you were very kind—ridiculously kind, some might say—you could describe “Kickboxer: Vengeance” as the martial-arts equivalent of “Creed.” It too is essentially a remake of a “classic” pugilistic original in which the erstwhile star (in the one case Sylvester Stallone, here Jean-Claude Van Damme) becomes the mentor to a young ring protagonist, so the comparison isn’t inapt. When it comes to quality, on the other hand, the disparity is enormous.

Of course the 1989 “Kickboxer” was no prize—a typical Cannon product, cheaply made, with risible dialogue and a plot that might have been written on the back of a very small napkin. An American champion kickboxer was challenged to a bout with a brutal Thai fighter, and was paralyzed as a result. His younger brother, seeking revenge, trains with a Muay Thai master to demand a match of his own. There are complications involving a gang that kidnaps his brother to blackmail the young contender into losing the match, but these are worked out in time to allow him a come-from-behind victory after he takes a fearful thrashing.

“Vengeance” makes some changes to this scenario. It adds a prologue showing Kurt Sloane (Alain Moussi) venturing into the compound of the brutal Tong Po (WWE wrestler David Bautista) to simply shoot him to avenge his brother Eric (Darren Shahlavi), whom the champion had killed, rather than simply paralyzed, in their match. Only then does it proceed to show the murderous fight itself, followed by Kurt’s approach to Eric’s trainer Durand (Van Damme) to prepare him. The training takes up much of the running-time, though the script allows for a bar fight to test Kurt’s mettle. It also adds a character, a pretty Thai policewoman named Liu (Sara Malakui Lane) who’s apparently the only honest cop on the beat, to serve as a love interest for Kurt., and another—Kavi (Georges St-Pierre)—who’s sent into Durand’s “school” by Tong Po as a spy but becomes Kurt’s ally. And it offers plenty of room for Van Damme’s Durand to look cool in his shades and show that even in his fifties the Muscles from Brussels still has some moves himself.

Overall, however, this is just a rehash of the first movie, and though it was probably more expensive, it looks no better. Van Damme appears to be having fun posing as the elder statesman (he spoofs his old persona at a few points), and though he’s hardly a charismatic presence, Moussi shows the capacity to wince after the numerous beatings he takes before bouncing back up to triumph in the end. The rest of the cast give perfunctory performances (with Lane chosen, it would seem, primarily for her attractiveness in tight shirts), though Bautista (who played Drax in “Guardians of the Galaxy”) is certainly formidable physically. Among the others the only one who stands out is Sam Medina, whose turn as the lieutenant of Po who serves as the ringmaster in the final fight is so wildly over-the-top, especially in the context of what’s going on around him, that one can only suppose that it was intended as an injection of humor that doesn’t come off.

“Kickboxer: Vengeance” was directed by John Stockwell, an actor (probably best known for his starring role in John Carpenter’s 1983 “Christine” alongside Keith Gordon) latterly turned more to behind-the-camera work, and he doesn’t bring much to the party—he gives entirely too much leeway to Van Damme, and even the big fight scenes lack panache. But as an insert during the credit crawls emphasizes, at least he’s aware of the loopy character of the proceedings, and tosses in a few quirky moments to show that everything is being done with tongue-in-cheek. Visually the picture isn’t a terribly attractive proposition, but it does manage to look fairly authentic by inserting Thai footage into material actually shot in the U.S. In the print seen, however, Mateo Londono’s widescreen images appear unremittingly drab, with a drained color scheme.

“Vengeance” works best, if at all, as an exercise in nostalgia for those who look back fondly on the kind of mindless B-movie action schlock that Cannon specialized in during the seventies and eighties. Others will probably assess it as a throwback that need not have been resuscitated.