RADICAN’S REVIEW SERIES
“HARD TARGET 2”
RELEASED SEPT. 6, 2016
“Hard Target 2” is an all new original direct to Blu-Ray, DVD, and Digital HD martial arts action film starring Scott Adkins as MMA fighter Wes “The Jailor” Baylor. Baylor ends up killing his friend, Johnny, in a major MMA fight in Vegas accidentally and goes into a deep depression while earning money by winning underground fights. The film reminded me very much of the films I grew up watching starring Jackie Chan, Steven Seagal, and Jean Claude Van Damme. Adkins, who has had guest roles in major movies such as “Ninja,” “The Bourne Ultimatum,” and “The Expendables 2” really shines in this role. He’s someone that has the presence to bring this genre back and he’s starred in several other martial arts action movies that didn’t make it to the big screen.
This is a sequel to “Hard Target” from 1993, which starred Van Damme and was directed by John Woo. The movie pays tribute to the original in many ways. There’s a chase through the streets that opens the movie that’s very similar to a scene in “Hard Target.” The movie also used Woo’s signature white dove imagery for many of Adkins’s scenes.
The opening MMA fight scene is really cool and look like a credible big-time MMA fight brought to the big screen. Baylor, who is down on his luck, ends up encountering Jonah Aldridge played by Robert Knepper, who is best known from “Prison Break.” Aldridge offers Baylor a fight for a million dollars and he agrees to it. They take a helicopter to Myanmar in Thailand and things quickly go south for Baylor, as he finds out he’s going to be the target of a human hunt. Baylor is only given water and a sack of rubies, which he will get to keep if he makes it to the border.
Baylor is hunted by characters like a game designer, a man from Texas and his son, a bull fighter, and a mysterious woman named Sofia. Aldridge and his partner Madden lead the hunt. They give Baylor a small head start and off he goes into the jungle.
Despite the hunters having an advantage after burying a GPS chip in the bag of rubies as well as drones that Aldridge uses to track Baylor, Baylor manages to turn the tables on the hunters. There are some incredible fight scenes during the movie that were shot beautifully.
The film is shot beautifully for a low budget movie and director Roel Rene deserves a ton of credit for making this film look as good as it does. Almost the entire film was shot in the jungle in Thailand and it makes for a beautiful backdrop to the action. There’s a beautiful scene early in the movie when Baylor runs into a pack of elephants on a river that really captures what Rene is capable of as a director.
Great fights and explosive actions scenes fill this movie. Many of the direct to home release movies I’ve seen aren’t that good, but this movie truly surprised me, as it had a solid script that made Baylor a sympathetic character and a fantastic cast of villains surrounding him lead by Aldridge, who becomes more and more dislikable as the film goes on. The build to the climactic scene between Aldridge and Baylor had me at the edge of my seat.
The bonus features on this release are top notch. There’s a great look at the making of the film, which will give viewers great insight into how Rene put together a movie that looked this good on a low budget. The extras also features feature length commentary from Rene and a host of others including Adkins and Knepper. It was a blast to watch the two extra fight scenes and all of the behind scenes stuff in the extras before watching the film again with the feature commentary.
OVERALL THOUGHTS (8.0): One of the genres missing from mainstream movies these days is martial arts action films. Adkins makes for a great hero in this movie and I’m looking forward to checking out some of his other starring roles in martial arts actions movies. I was impressed by his performance as the leading hero in this movie.
The big martial arts fights scenes and action shots are paced well and this movie goes by quickly while building to a fantastic climactic scene. I highly recommend checking this film out if you’re a fan of mixed marital arts and/or martial arts action movies.
You can purchase the “Hard Target 2” on Blu-ray, DVD, & Digital HD combo pack at most retail outlets and Amazon.com.
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