Thursday, 3 November 2016



Of all the films to sequel... Hard Target? Really? I mean, it was a more than decent action movie: John Woo's typically overblown style, a fine line in villainy from Lance Henriksen, Jean-Claude in his prime, but it was over twenty years ago, for crying out loud. Who carried a boner for that movie for that long? In practise, of course, it's less a sequel than a remake, and indeed less of a remake than just another variation on the Most Dangerous Game theme: instead of New Orleans we have the Myanmar jungles, instead of Van Damme we have Scott Adkins.

Adkins is Baylor: one-time MMA champion who quit the fight game after beating his best friend to death in the ring. Reduced to streetfighting for little more than his rent money, he's tempted by the one last bout: a big money offer in Myanmar... until it turns out to be a manhunt through the jungles to the Thai border, with half a dozen very rich sociopaths chasing him with crossbows.

Hard Target 2 has numerous callbacks to the original: the crossbows, the motorbikes, occasional use of slo-mo for the action sequences, and villains Robert Knepper and Temuera Morrison behaving, and even sometimes looking, like Henriksen and Arnold Vosloo. It even has the fluttering doves that were (and for all I know still are) John Woo's signature. Sadly, Woo isn't involved; it's actually directed by Roel Reine, specialist in nominal sequels to films to which you even didn't know you wanted second and third instalments even if you could remember them (Death Race 2, Death Race 3, The Man With The Iron Fists 2, The Scorpion King 3). As a Friday night thudfest it's perfectly passable, with the fight scenes well enough staged and satisfyingly brutal (Rhona Mitra's exit is particularly pleasing). Academy voting slips will not, however, require amending.


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