If you grew up in the 80´s, just like myself, you might remember how important films coming out of Hong Kong were, especially martial arts action films. Of course this market started growing, since people loved to see fast, hard hitting, action films, with extreme violence. There were a lot of films rolling out on VHS and in cinemas, but one man was perhaps the biggest of them all in the Hong Kong action scene. John Woo, a man with a vision to make films in a majestic way. He wanted to lift up the martial art films to a different level, and use film technique in a fast and smooth way. A Better Tomorrow from 1986 is an example of how he managed to bring his view on Hong Kong cinema. But his biggest proof of his amazing film technique skills, was proven in the 1989 film called The Killer. In my mind, this is one of the best Hong Kong action films ever made, with fantastic action scenes. There are other classics of course we could mention, but let´s talk about one of the films from John Woo, that i find to be one of the better films with Jean-Claude Van Damme. The 1993 action film Hard Target, was the first american action film to be directed by John Woo. And he did a really good job, bringing his style into a Van Damme film. Also, it worked well with the special kicks that is Van Damme´s unique trade mark, we all know from childhood. Van Damme brought a completely different performance than his usual action films. This film was much more violent, more raw, and insane stunt effects included. It also included an insane performance by legendary actor Lance Henriksen. Hard Target was actually a box office hit, and of course panned by most critics. But the fans of Van Damme did not care, because they loved seeing him work with John Woo. One of the things i really enjoyed of this film is the visual action scenes, so detailed and constructed, you could tell John Woo knew what he was doing. I have heard that there is a Director´s Cut out there of this film, that is very difficult to find. It would have been fun to see it one day, just to see if you see any differences from the original film. Now i did not expect to ever see a sequel of Hard Target, because no one seemed to be interested in doing it. Until i heard the news that action legend Scott Adkins would be in a sequel, simply called Hard Target 2. I love many of his films, especially Ninja: Shadow Of A Tear, one of my favourite martial arts action films in many years. So when this Hard Target sequel finally landed on blu ray, i bought myself a copy to experience, if this would be as good as i was hoping it could be. With a really good action actor on board, is this the sequel we all deserved, or should they have left the original film alone ?
Martial arts fighter Wes " The Jailor " Baylor ( Scott Adkins ) retire after a match, where he accidently kill his friend Jonny Sutherland ( Troy Honeysett ) in a fight. Filled with remorse, and sorrow, he tries to find another way to make money. After a fight, Wes meet Jonah Aldrich ( Robert Knepper ), a very rich businessman, who offers Wes a very good deal. If he agree to do one major fight, on a secret location, he will be offered much more than he ever have before. Since Wes is need of cash, he agree to accept this fight. They fly off to Burma, where the fight is supposed to take place. But once they land, Wes notice that this is not an ordinary fight. People who have come here, have paid lots of money to hunt a living human, in this case it is Wes. if he survive, he will be paid enormously well. But only if he can manage to survive to a certain location. This is not what Wes agreed on, but he realise he can´t get out now, so he is forced to accept the challenge.
When you make a sequel, after 23 years, you have to make sure you know it is going to deliver to the fans of the first film. And i have to say, Hard Target 2 is one of the best action films this year so far. Holy shit, the fighting, the action scenes, this is just what we needed in 2016. No 50 Shades Darker bullshit, just pure hard action with the master Scott Adkins. Now this guy knows exactly what he is doing. He can fight, and do stunt scenes in really effective scenes. I would dare to say that he is one of the best at delivering action films in these days. Knowing that this is the sequel to the John Woo classic in 1993, i know a lot of fans of the original film might compare this film and have their opinions. I don´t think i need to compare these films, simply because i know that it is hard to make a sequel to such a great classic as Hard Target. But i will say this, for trying to be a sequel, i think director Roel Reiné have made his best film in his career so far. In the past, he have directed films such as Death Race 2, Death Race 3 and The Man With The Iron Fists 2. He clearly have a passion for action films, but i think the biggest reason why Hard Target 2 is his best film so far, is because he have worked hard to find a similar style of the original film. From a film quality perspective, this is his best looking film also. He manage to capture the feeling of how we want to see Scott Adkins, raw, rough and kicking ass. The location filmed around Thailand looks beautiful, and fits the story great. Speaking of the story, that might be the only issue i have here. It does not make much sense, but honestly, there are more positive details in this film to be happy about. Apart from Scott Adkins, we also get some nice performances from Rhona Mitra. When she begins to fight, there is no way you can feel disappointed. She is not the kind of woman you want to say the wrong words to, trust me....I also enjoy the main villain Aldrich, played by Robert Knepper. Maybe not as good as Lance Henriksen was in the original film, but still good enough to portrait a scum bag. If you love weapons, fighting, explosions, we have it all here, and in 2016, we don´t get to see all of this in a classic 90´s style action film. So you need to go down and buy Hard Target 2 on dvd, or blu ray, right now. Support B movie action films in a high quality like this film, we need these films to be made people. Scott Adkins, what would this world be without you ? Never stop making these films, if you do the world will be lost. Hard Target 2 is a ball smasher with no stopping, you simply have to see this one.