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The Gratuitous B-Movie Column: Hard Target 2

April 19, 2017 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz

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The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Issue #406: Hard Target 2

Adkins April: Week 2

Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to the internets movie review column that has never felt the need to hunt anything for sport, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column, and I am your host Bryan Kristopowitz. In this issue, issue number four hundred and six, Adkins April continues with Hard Target 2, which hit home video in the fall of 2016.

Hard Target 2

HardTarget2

Hard Target 2, directed by Roel Reine, is a sequel in name and plot only to the John Woo/Jean- Claude Van Damme flick from 1993. Part 2 stars the great Scott Adkins as Wes “The Jailor” Baylor, a badass professional MMA fighter who ends up killing his best friend (Jonny Sutherland, as played by Troy Honeysett) in the ring. It was a big match, big money and prestige on the line, and Baylor sort of got out of hand with his assault on Jonny. The fight and subsequent death of Jonny sends Baylor on a personal emotional rollercoaster. Baylor is destroyed in the press, his professional career torpedoes, and he ends up in Thailand fighting in underground brawls for small amounts of money (small in comparison to the big money he generally earned as a pro). It’s in this world that Baylor meets Aldrich (Robert Knepper), a smooth talking rich guy who claims to be a major fight promoter. Baylor has never heard of Aldrich, but then Aldrich tells him that he’s a major promoter in the underground fight world, and since the underground scene is something he’s basically new to Aldrich could be telling the truth. Aldrich offers Baylor a chance for one more big fight, a guarantee of a million dollars. At first, Baylor doesn’t accept because the whole thing sounds like bullshit. But, after thinking about the $1 million opportunity and what he could do with that kind of money (he could buy a house by the water, just like Jonny wanted before he died in the ring), Baylor decides to accept Aldrich’s offer.

An underground fight for a million bucks? What could go wrong with that?

So Baylor hooks up with Aldrich, they get on a helicopter, and they go to where the fight is set to take place. Myanmar, just over the border of Thailand, in the woods. When they land, Baylor suspects that something might be up because there’s no ring set up to train or fight in, there are Myanmar Army soldiers all over the place, and there’s a group of heavily armed weirdoes who look seriously out of place. But, heck, maybe this is just the place he has to go to in order to get to the fight. So Baylor meets some of the weirdoes (there’s a professional bullfighter there, a douchebag video game designer, and a guy from Texas who claims that he was in the live audience the night Baylor killed Jonny in the ring) and tries to figure out what the hell is going on. Aldrich starts talking about hunting and whatnot, something you don’t normally hear in the world of fighting, legitimate or underground. And then a sultry, pissed off woman clad in leather shows up (Sofia, as played by the great Rhona Mitra). Baylor finally speaks up and asks everyone what, exactly, is going on. It’s at this point that Baylor finds out that Aldrich was lying about the whole “underground fight” thing. Aldrich actually brought Baylor to Myanmar to be the latest prey for his human hunting business.

As you’d expect, when Baylor finds out what’s really going on he isn’t happy about the situation. He can’t believe that anyone would want to hunt a human being down and kill said human being for kicks. It’s murder, for the love of God! But then Aldrich and his main henchman Madden (Jango Fett hisself Temuera Morrison) kill two hapless army prisoners just to show that they aren’t messing around, and suddenly Baylor realizes that this is ridiculously real. He tries to just walk away from the situation, but then the assembled soldiers make sure he can’t leave. Aldrich then explains that if he can outwit his hunters and get to the border Baylor will “win” the game and get to keep a bag of rubies worth one million dollars. Baylor will also get a water bottle and a “two minute” head start.

After some “I can’t believe this shit is happening to me, you’re all goddamn crazy” talk from Baylor, he finally “accepts” the rules of the hunt game and runs into the woods. How the hell is he going to get out of this situation alive?

Well, Baylor has a nifty new watch with a compass in it, so he’ll be able to use that to find the border. And the woods are pretty dense and dangerous, so there’s a chance he may be able to use all of that to his advantage somehow. The hunters will have weapons, though, crossbows and guns and knives and stuff like that (they’ll eventually get to use dirt bikes to help them travel through the woods). How will he fight back against all of that?

Wes “The Jailor” Baylor is a human weapon. A pro fighter. And one bad dude in his own right. Maybe if the hunters get close to him he’ll be able to kung fu them all to death. Or something. This whole “human prey” thing is messed up and something that you can’t really prepare for.

So Baylor runs, the hunters hunt, and it doesn’t take long for Baylor to take down one of the hunters. And when I say “take down” I mean he kills the guy with his bare goddamn hands. When the other hunters find out that Baylor isn’t going to be an easy kill, some of them start to freak out (they didn’t pay Aldrich big money to get killed themselves. They expect to do the killing). Aldrich tries to calm them all down and, at the same time, sort of build up their confidence (hunting is the ultimate thrill, the ultimate test, it’s what real men do, shit like that). He’s pissed about Baylor killing a client, though. Yes, he knew, in a way, that Baylor wasn’t going to be an “easy” kill, like the other people he’s hunted down, but he didn’t think the broken down pro fighter would kill someone. Aldrich does have an ace up his sleeve, though, an insurance policy of sorts just in case the hunting team can’t find Baylor on their own.

Will Baylor get to the border? Will Aldrich’s team of hunters kill their prey?

Hard Target 2 doesn’t really do anything new with the whole “people paying to hunt humans” thing. Its story follows the same general beats as its predecessor and pretty much every other similar movie (Surviving the Game comes to mind). But what it lacks in originality it makes up for it with ass kicking fights, excellent gun battles, and generally awesome action. If you love low budget action flicks, Hard Target 2 is exactly what you’re looking for.

Now, the movie does feature bizarre moments of random slow motion that don’t seem to make much sense. The slow motion moments just happen. Plenty of modern low budget action flicks do this. I have no idea why it happens or why the director or the editors or producers want it. The slow motion really doesn’t add anything to the movie. At the same time, it doesn’t make the movie hard to watch or annoying or anything like that. It happens, and it just seems like something that happens. Does anyone out there know why this trend is a trend?

The opening fight sequence in Las Vegas is going to annoy some people because it doesn’t take place in a large arena setting. The fight, despite its big time implications, is held in a modest sized arena. It is plenty energetic, though, so that fact helps mitigate the whole “small building” thing. I’m sort of surprised that director Reine didn’t attempt to make it look like the arena was bigger by using stock footage of a large arena and cutting it with the fight inside the ring. But then that kind of thing doesn’t seem to happen all that much anymore. Maybe it’s too ‘80’s?

The fight and action scenes are well done and exciting to the max. The fights all look like they hurt, the weaponry all looks dangerous, and, above all else, the explosions look like actual explosions. If the flames and whatnot are actually CGI it’s the best CGI I’ve ever seen in a low budget action flick. It’s always great to see actual explosions in a movie of any sort. It’s a lost art of sorts since very few movies seem to be willing to do it.

The jungle setting is also quite good and comes off as dangerous and kind of scary. You never really know where you are, even when Baylor, who has no idea where he is in the jungle (even with the compass in his watch), hooks up with a local woman named Tha (Ann Truong). Tha knows where she is, but at the same time she doesn’t exactly exude the kind of confidence one would need to trust her. She’s scared of the people pursuing Baylor. And who can blame her? They may be worse than the local Myanmar army, and those guys are terrible.

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Adkins does a great job as Wes “The Jailor” Baylor. He’s physically impressive when in action mode and shows why he is one of the best, maybe the best, action stars in the world at the moment. The big split leg split kick on two dirt bike riders is a moment that will make you stand up and cheer, even at home. The “American” accent that Adkins uses is a tad distracting at times, but, like the pro that he is, he makes it work. Adkins also has a few nice “acting” moments where he shows that he has more than ass kicking to offer any movie he’s the star of (Adkins doesn’t get the acting credit that he deserves, which is a shame because he can do it). I would like to know how Baylor knows how to use guns like a pro. As far as I know Baylor isn’t some ex-black ops guy who got into the pro fight game when he left the service; he’s just a pro fighter. Did he take a weekend firearms class or something? Awesome job from Adkins.

Robert Knepper just oozes sleaze as Aldrich. He’s a complete scumbag that you can’t wait to see get destroyed. Knepper is a pro at this kind of thing and makes sure that you never once sympathize with him at all. Now, some people may find that kind of characterization cliché and not very original. However, if you realize that Knepper’s Aldrich is a rich guy who has made a fortune off of human misery it works. He also presents himself as a fight promoter, an occupation that revels in human destruction. Makes sense to me from every angle. Great job, Knepper.

Temuera Morrison is equally sleazy as Aldrich’s main henchman Madden. He’s a tough guy, a terrifying presence, and when he springs into action you know that Baylor will have a tough time of it. I mean, we know that Baylor is going to come out on top because he’s the main character, but Madden is a major threat. Great job, Jango Fett.

Rhona Mitra is a complete asshole as Sofia. She’s hot and sullen and whatnot, has that sultry bitch thing going on, but she’s way more interested in killing people in the woods than being a hot woman. She has a nice little fight with Adkins (she isn’t going to beat him, but, man, she’s tough). The way she’s picked off is anti-climactic, but then maybe the movie only had her for a relatively short period of time and it was the best way to deal with her? Anyway, it’s cool to see her in a badass role again. It’s been way too long.

Ann Truong is interesting as Tha, the local woman who gets caught up with Baylor. She’s a little too calm about the whole situation, but at the same time she’s staring down death every day from both the local corrupt Myanmar army and elephants. She’s used to almost dying. She has good chemistry with Adkins and while they don’t have a romantic relationship there’s enough there between them that, if and when there’s a part 3, you could believe them as a couple.

Out of the hunters, you’ll remember the Texas asshole Jacob Zimling as he’s big and boisterous (you’ll remember his son, Tobias, as played by Sean Keenan, mostly for the way he refuses to listen) and the bullfighter Esparto, as played by Adam Saunders, because he carries a sword around with him. It’s ridiculous but it somehow fits in the movie.

The end credits sequence is a nice touch because it’s unexpected. We watch Baylor walk around the streets of Bangkok, taking in the hustle and bustle of the streets and whatnot. He gets a bowl of noodles. And then he goes back to the shack he lives in. What’s the point of this? Damned if I know. It doesn’t lead to a post credits sequence where someone shows up to kill Baylor or anything like that. It is cool to watch, though.

Hard Target 2 is a great low budget action flick. I loved it. Hopefully, you will, too. It’s exactly what the world needs more of.

See Hard Target 2. See it, see it, see it.

So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: 10+

Explosions: Several, big and small. And they look like real explosions.

Nudity?: None.

Doobage: A bunch of birds, several dirt bike chases, multiple crossbow attacks, slow motion jumping over stuff, a hellacious MMA brawl, a wicked roundhouse kick to the face, a wildly inappropriate in ring celebration, big pieces of glitter, slow motion sad yelling, pills, drinking alcohol while taking pills, multiple underground MMA fights, more head kicking, short collecting, fighting on top of a building in a glass ring for scumbag rich people, shoulder biting, some serious punching, a glittering building, sushi preparation, monk children playing soccer, running, a dead body with arrows in it, cattle prod attack, a nasty punch in slow motion, puking, a malfunctioning watch, a grenade launcher, a dirt bike jump scare, a double-leg split kick, an obvious dirt bike stunt double, a dirt bike that has machine guns and rockets on it, attempted game of dirt bike chicken, exploding jeep, double crossbow attack, attempted rape, face slapping, scorpion crushing, bow and arrow attack, slow motion natural forest medicine making, a very dead bull, land mines, exploding mines, slow motion jumping bow and arrow shooting, camp making, multiple nightmares, shovel to the back, train track hooey, a fight on an abandoned train, a wicked double foot stomp that leads to a sharp piece of metal through the throat, gun fu, an epic slow motion jump into the water, thievery, throat slitting, racism, a choke out, speed boat stealing exploding barrel pile, dirty pool, hand slicing, stabbing, fuel tank to the back, exploding house, spear through the chest, M-16 hooey, a single shot gun, shooting a guy for no reason, blood spitting, a cooler of beer, a five-on-one fight, neck breaking, a slow motion hand clap, a brutal shooting, and a socially uplifting ending.

Kim Richards?: Attempted and threatened.

Gratuitous: Jango Fett, Scott Adkins, Scott Adkins playing a pro MMA fighter, Scott Adkins with an American accent, an overhead digital American flag, the American World Fighting Association, Byron Gibson, Scott Adkins sleeping in his jeans, a slow motion slow clap, slow motion outdoor showering, sushi prep, Rhona Mitra, the woods, a watch with a compass in it, elephants, land mines, floating down the river on a log, a hidden camera, Scott Adkins saying the title of the movie, flashbacks, and Scott Adkins walking around the streets of Bangkok.

Best lines: “See you in the ring, motherfucker!,” “Best view in Bangkok,” “Sushi requires precision,” “Welcome to the Republic of the Union of Myanmar, Mr. Baylor,” “What the hell is wrong with you people? This isn’t a fight! It’s murder!,” “Jesus, ladies, do you want to fuck or hunt?,” “You’re in great shape. Do you do CrossFit?,” “Ladies and gentlemen, all bets are off. Watch your backs,” “Fuck this bow and arrow shit!,” “It’s Christmas!,” “You working for Aldrich? Who is Aldrich?,” “What are you doing out here? Some people are hunting me,” “The best fighters always have something to fight for,” “I can smell her!,” “I hate the fucking jungle,” “Bitch,” “What the hell is wrong with you, lady?,” “So that’s what this is about? Daddy issues?,” “Is that real enough for you?,” “Karma’s a bitch,” “Cover him. This is not good for business,” “We didn’t come here to find death. We came here to deal it,” “Somebody kill this prick!,” “So the money’s good? Yeah. The killing is better,” “Where’s Baylor?,” “Not good,” “This guy…,” “Do you understand the concept of a verbal contract?,” “Nobody calls me a spic. I’m a dago,” “Stop him! He cannot reach the border!,” “Fuck you, Aldrich. I win,” “Where’s the card? It’s safe. It’s up my ass,” “I just can’t tell what kind of man you are, Baylor,” “Not you. Not yet,” “Goddamn, Baylor, you are the man!,” “You lose,” and “General, kill that asshole!”

Rating: 9.0/10.0

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Things to Watch Out For This Week

SplitDVD

Split: I’ve never been a big M. Night Shyamalan fan. I liked The Happening and I sort of liked The Lady in the Water, and Signs had its moments, but everything else that I’ve seen of his has been maybe okay. Split has plenty of people talking, mostly for whatever the hell appears at the end of the credits (it connects Split to one of his other movies). I didn’t care for the trailer for this movie, but with all the hooha surrounding it maybe it’s time I take another look at Shyamalan’s stuff, especially Unbreakable. Rentable.

SleeplessDVD

Sleepless: This action flick starring Jamie Foxx bombed at the box office, but I thought it looked kind of good. I wish I had made more of an effort to see it on the big screen. Anyway, much like Split, this looks very rentable. Anyone out there see this when it was in theatres? Anyone at all?

TheWatcher

The Watcher: This is some sort of low budget horror flick about a young couple that buys a house and ends up being attacked/haunted/accosted by some evil spirit or some bullshit like that. It doesn’t look terrible, and Tracie Thoms is in it, so the movie has that going for it. And that one guy from The Blacklist and The Blacklist: Redemption is in it, too. What the hell is that thing doing the watching?

TeenTitansJudasContract

Teen Titans: The Judas Contract: I’ve been meaning to watch both the DC animated movies and the Marvel ones, just to see if they’re cool or not. Plenty of people seem to like them, and, heck, most of them are like 80 minutes so it’s not like it’s a major time commitment on my part. The Judas Contract is the latest one from DC. How many of you out there enjoy the animated comic book movies? Are they all worth checking out?

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B-Movie News

StarWarsTheLastJediTeaserPoster

The new Star Wars trailer is out and…: It looks pretty good. It’s only a teaser, so we’ll have to wait for the official trailer later this year to see more (will we get it on the Guardians of the Galaxy sequel release or when the Spider-Man movie comes out?). Apparently the whole The Last Jedi thing only refers to Luke Skywalker, and it isn’t a plural thing (you know, where Rey is somehow a Jedi now because she’s met Luke). The new dry planet Crait looks weird. Is R2D2 hanging out with Luke or is that Kylo Ren? And I swear, if Luke Skywalker gets punked out by that wussy Ren in this movie Star Wars will be dead to me. Fuck that shit. Ren is a giant pussy, he isn’t the least bit intimidating, and he sucks.

Am I the only one who can’t stand Kylo Ren? I need someone to explain to me why he’s a good villain.

The Last Jedi appears this December.

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Who is the Douchebag of the Week? Go here and find out!

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Next Issue: Adkins April concludes with Eliminators!

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Check out my review of david j. moore’s The Good, the Tough, and the Deadly here!

Check out my interview with the man hisself david j. moore here!

Check out the interview I did with the great Jino Kang here!

Check out my interview with character actor Vladimir Kulich here!

Check out my interview with martial artist and actor Paul Mormando here!

Check out my interview with writer/actor/director Shahin Sean Solimon here!

Check out my interview with director Michael Matteo Rossi here!

Check out my interview with actor Tyrone Magnus here!

Check out my interview with Hector Barron here!

Check out my interview with Jeffrey Orgill here!

Check out my interview with director Michael Baumgarten here!

Check out my interview with actor and stuntman R. Marcos Taylor here!

Check out my interview with action movie legend Don “The Dragon” Wilson here!

Check out my interview with Paul Kyriazi, the director of Ninja Busters and Death Machines, here!

Check out my interview with martial artist and actor Eric Jacobus here!

Check out my interview with martial artist and actor Juju Chan here!

Check out my interview with noted stunt performer and stunt coordinator Luke LaFontaine here!

Check out my interview with film journalist Marco Siedlemann here!

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Follow me on Twitter!

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Well, I think that’ll be about it for now. Don’t forget to sign up with disqus if you want to comment on this article and any other 411 article. You know you want to, so just go do it.

B-movies rule. Always remember that.

Hard Target 2

Scott Adkins– Wes Baylor
Robert Knepper– Aldrich
Ann Truong– Tha
Temuera Morrison– Madden
Rhona Mitra– Sofia
Adam Saunders– Esparto
Peter Hardy– Jacob Zimling
Sean Keenan– Tobias Zimling
Gigi Velicitat– Maduka
Troy Honeysett– Jonny Sutherland
Katrina Grey– Kay Sutherland

Directed by Roel Reine
Screenplay by Matt Harvey, Dominic Morgan, and George Huang

Distributed by Universal Pictures Home Entertainment

Rated R for violence and language
Runtime– 104 minutes

Buy it here

URGENT NOTICE: For the time being, ONLY access the site using 411WRESTLING.COM. Bookmark that URL and only access the site via that address. 411mania.com has been compromised and for your own safety, don’t use that domain for now. You’ll notice that all the links already go to 411wrestling.com URLs. Please only use that domain until further notice. Thanks.

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