HARD TARGET 2
Twenty-three years after the original came out, we now get a sequel with Hard Target 2. (Whether it is a sequel is a debatable question there is no direct continuity between either film, this reads more as just as a re-run of the original with different actors and a different location). The surprise is why now? Do audiences remember the first film? If there was any market for a sequel, it would surely have been in the few years after the original came out where it would have been relentlessly sequelised in the same way that Van Dammes Bloodsport (1988) and Kickboxer (1989) were without him on multiple occasions.
Hard Target 2 comes from South African director Roel Reiné. Reiné has made a career out of making sequels to other peoples films with the likes of Death Race 2 (2010), Death Race 3: Inferno (2012), The Scorpion King 3: Battle for Redemption (2012), The Condemned 2 (2015) and The Man with the Iron Fists 2 (2015), as well as original works such as Drifter (2008), Deadwater (2008), The Lost Tribe (2010) and Dead in Tombstone (2013).
I liked the original. It wasnt a great film but John Woos action balletics made it highly watchable. The unfortunate downside of Hard Target 2 is that Roel Reiné seeks to replicate John Woos kinetic acrobatics but delivers almost nothing else. Thus the whole film consists of slow-motion shots of Scott Adkins kicking people, vehicles racing and skidding, explosions, slow-motion shots of bullets, arrows and shells being fired and so on. It feels like a film that has been conceived around its action sequences and then a plot loosely strung around these. The unfortunate aspect of this is that not a single one of the action sequences kick in with the kind of awe that makes you go wow like Woo did. Rather they sit there and wash over you in a brain-unengaged way. There is nothing to the sequences, no feeling that anything is at stake or where the outcome is not in doubt, no seat-edge intensity, nothing.
Scott Adkins has a reasonable likeability as the action hero. Robert Knepper gets into the villainy, although is largely defeated by the fact that the writing is utterly one-dimensional. The supporting cast is not uninteresting. There is Rhona Mitra, one of the most beautiful actresses in the world, who you wish had been given more to do. As it is, she struts through the film as though she is majorly pissed off at having to be there. Maori actor Temuera Morrison, not the most expressive of actors, lends solid support as Robert Kneppers taciturn henchman.