Monday, 12 September 2016

Hard Target 2 (2016)





















The long awaited sequel...ahem! OK well following on from the original movie then? Well I'm not so sure honesty, this movie follows on with the concept from the original movie but I have no idea if there is any continuity going on. As any fan will recall, in the original there is this underground private organisation/company that sets up highly illegal hunts for very rich clients, the game...humans. This private organisation has many connections, many henchmen, a global fanbase and many rich clients. They specialise in finding people that cannot be traced, have no background, no family but can possibly offer a good hunt. But if not then just anyone who can disappear easily without a trace, someone that can be killed for fun and not arouse any suspicion. This entire idea carries on with this straight to DVD sequel but I have no clue if its suppose to be the same organisation or even if the story is set before or after the original. I suppose it could be the same organisation but in a different part of the world, a different branch as it were, or it could just be a complete reboot.

So we all know that Scott Adkins likes a good dose of MMA action in his films, and we all know you're most probably gonna see him perform some martial arts no matter what type of film he's in whether you like it or not. So naturally MMA fans won't be disappointed, especially as the first 10 minutes of the film is basically a kickboxing flick. Yeah its setting up the story I guess, but Jesus did they really need to linger so long on this plot aspect? The basic crux is, Wes Baylor (Adkins) is fighting in a match against his best friend/sparring partner/championship rival. The pair are relatively well matched but Baylor is better, after a long drawn out fight Baylor ends up accidentally killing his mate in the ring. Crushed by guilt he eventually leaves the US and goes to Thailand (as you do) and ends up fighting in illegal bloodsport fights (because of course). In time he is spotted by a slimy looking American who offers him a shit load of cash for one MMA fight in Burma. This turns out to be a trick as Baylor finds himself caught up in a deadly game of hunt the human for sport. The rules being the same as in the last movie, reach a certain point (in this case the border to...Thailand I'm guessing?) and you get to keep your life and the money on your belt (in this case jewels).



So one reason I actually think this is a reboot is because (plot aside) the main bad guy is clearly a Lance Henriksen-esque clone, Aldrich played by Robert Knepper. This guy has almost the same kind of craggy, scrawny, gaunt looks of Henriksen, he's not muscular but very wiry, plus he also has a high hairline with a similar wavy hair style. To top it all off, he appears to be using the exact same long barrelled pistol that Henriksen's character used in the original movie. In short the director has clearly tried to copy that same look from the John Woo film. As for the rest of the bad guys, well its a mixed bunch that are definitely different from the original movie but not better that's for sure. You have a father and son duo, the father being a typical beer-bellied redneck type while his son is a snivelling pussy who's not sure about the whole affair. Then you have a Spanish guy who's apparently a bullfighter (*cough!* stereotype *cough!*), some young designer bloke, Aldrich's second in command (Madden) played by Temuera Morrison, and the obligatory sexy token female (Sofia) played by Rhona Mitra. Oh and some of the Burmese army also works for Aldrich too, somehow, corruption must be commonplace.

All the action takes place in a the jungles of Burma (supposedly) and for the most part it does look authentic, although I doubt they're in Burma. Nevertheless the movie is of course utterly ridiculous and farcical. For a start whilst on the run in the jungle Baylor comes across other dead bodies from previous hunts, so presumably this is a secluded part of the jungle. Alas we do discover the whole thing takes part quite close to the Thai border, or near the bridge over the river Kwai at least, so I do have to question why bodies don't get discovered seeing as they're just lying in plain view in shallow river sections. Secondly, in a typically stupid action flick trope, the token baddie female is kitted out in a skin tight black leather number, because of course she is. Now don't get me wrong, seeing Rhona Mitra in skin tight black leather is awesome (I only wish it was latex), but really? in the steamy hot, humid jungles of Burma...really? She looks like a fucking super(slutty) hero especially with all that ammo crap coiled around her thighs, good grief!



I mean in all honesty the movie isn't too bad as it trots along, its as cliched as fuck but the general setup is engaging enough because you wanna see these asshole bad guys get killed. Its when even more silly things happen that render the movie so absurd. The baddie team are hunting Baylor and are presumably deep in the jungle, they are getting tired because Baylor is turning out to be quite hard to kill. So Aldrich snaps his fingers and literally out of nowhere trucks pull up with motorbikes for them to ride! Cue sequences of bike riders in full black biker attire chasing Baylor though the jungle and somehow not catching him up. We then get a bit of fisticuffs between Baylor and Sofia. Baring in mind Baylor has already been established as a rock hard MMA fighter/champion, yet he has trouble beating a woman half his size, weight and who clearly can't actually fight. Its also around this point, somewhere, where we get some truly excellent dialog from Mitra's character. One of the bad guys is getting a bit worried about Baylor killing everyone and suggests giving up and leaving. To which Sofia responds with...'go run home to mommy', yeah...take that you cowardly bad guy.

The real joke is the finale which sees Baylor reach the border (of Thailand??) in a speedboat, being chased by Aldrich in a chopper whilst blasting at him with an assault rifle. Again baring in mind the border is a highly populated area, with locals, tourists and lots of armed troops...yet none of this matters to Aldrich now as he seems to be obsessed with killing Baylor. So his stealthy, private hunting organisation just went public apparently. This entire action sequence genuinely looks like something out of a live action attraction/show from some big studio entertainment park. It then moves onto this long narrow wooden bridge which makes up the crossing between the two countries, where Baylor proceeds to have lots of high flying fisticuffs with lots of henchmen and Aldrich's second in command Madden (Morrison). All the while armed soldiers watch from the Thai border whilst hostages are taken, bullets fly, explosions occur and people get killed...but they just watch cos you know, its nonsense.

Yes this is pretty darn hokey folks, not much quality can be found here in all honesty, you could say it even brings down the explosive cult classic Woo/JCVD extravaganza. Again its another case of...why in the hell did they make this?? Clearly a cheap shot at trying to wring some more moolah out of the original movies name, and clearly everyone involved is just there for the paycheck, nothing more. The shameful thing is this could of been good, the premise is there, the story could be expanded better and the casting could of been upgraded. With a bit more effort this could have actually been a solid little gem, heck Knepper and Morrison are actually good villains, Adkins is OK but might have worked better as a baddie, and the location isn't too bad of an idea for a tense sweaty thriller. Instead we get this very basic, cliched, corny, childish, rushed mess that looks like it was made in the early 90's (probably would have fared better then too). Just look at that bloody poster! Holy schnitzels in stew its bad, is that the best they could come up with?! fuck a duck!

5/10