Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Film Review: Hard Target 2 (2016)

Hard Target 2 (Review)
United States/2016
Format Viewed For Review: Netflix Instant
Netflix Streaming: Yes
Amazon Prime: No

"It's really just another b-movie, but I enjoyed it."

Retired MMA fighter Wes Baylor (Scott Adkins) is offered a million dollars to participate in one final fight in Myanmar. When he arrives, he finds himself in the crosshairs of a group of hunters...

Hard Target 2 is a very cheesy film. I'm giving it the benefit of the doubt, so I'm choosing to believe this was intentional. After all, it is a sequel to a Van Damme 90s movie – there were a lot of cheesy action movies back then. (Side note: I actually watched Sudden Death after this and it was nowhere near as cheesy.) Anyway, the film follows Wes Baylor, an MMA fighter. He accidentally kills another fighter in the ring, which sends him into a tailspin of depression. He ends up fighting for scraps in Thailand, where Aldrich (Robert Knepper) offers him a huge purse for one final fight. Wes agrees. Unfortunately, when he arrives in Myanmar, he is told that he's actually participating in a human hunt – and he's the prey. The rest of the film, like the introduction, is very simple stuff. Wes runs around the jungle and heads for the border while being targeted by a generic group of hunters from around the world. Nothing groundbreaking, really. The ending also continues with the theme of 'cheesy 80s/90s movie,' but it wasn't that bad.

It wasn't that bad – I guess that's the best way to describe this film as a whole. It's just a corny action film. At times, the cheesiness of it all works to its benefit. It often feels like you're watching an old-school action movie filled with corny one-liners and decent stunts. It makes for some decent unintentional laughs, too. At other times, it comes off as a bit cringy. It makes you ask: why would you write it like that? So, the cheese might be loved by some and hated by others. I thought the action fared a bit better. It doesn't quite match The Raid 2 or other great martial arts flicks, but it has its moments. You'll be watching most of those moments in slow-motion, too. Oh, and as a final note: yes, the characters often do stupid stuff. "Why didn't he pick up the rifle?" You'll ask yourself a few questions, but you won't get any other answers.

Scott Adkins is serviceable as the leading man. For some odd reason, he doesn't have a mullet in this film and that's just disappointing – if not, it's downright insulting. Still, I like Adkins. As someone who grew up on Van Damme movies, I like to think of Adkins as the 'new Van Damme.' The acting is, otherwise, hit-or-miss. Some actors are decent, others are bad. Some of the acting can be blamed on the bad dialogue or even the direction – it's still pretty bad, though. The film was written by Dominic Morgan and Matthew Harvey and directed by Roel Reiné. The writing succeeds in creating a cheesy throwback – almost to a fault. Reiné crafts some solid action scenes, but nothing really exemplary. I liked some of the camerawork during a few of the action sequences, but his direction doesn't really standout. A few scenes towards the end caught my eye, though.

Overall, Hard Target 2 is a decent action movie. It's very cheesy and fairly entertaining. It's really just another b-movie, but I enjoyed it. If you're a fan of Adkins or Van Damme, this is at least worth a stream on Netflix. I wouldn't recommend rushing out to buy unless it was very cheap, but I certainly don't regret my stream.

Score: 5/10
Parental Guide: Strong violence and blood.

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