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The Gratuitous B-Movie Column: Escape Plan 2: Hades

November 18, 2019 | Posted by Bryan Kristopowitz
Escape Plan 2: Hades

The Gratuitous B-Movie Column Issue #531: Escape Plan 2: Hades

Hello, everyone, and welcome once again to the internets movie review column that wouldn’t survive all that long in prison, and not because of the whole “the other prisoners would kick my ass” thing (although that would definitely happen), but because my access to the B-movie would be seriously curtailed and I don’t think I could go through that kind of thing, The Gratuitous B-Movie Column, and I am your host Bryan Kristopowitz. In this issue, issue number five hundred and thirty-one, I take a look at the first direct-to-video sequel to 2013’s badass action flick Escape Plan, Escape Plan 2: Hades, which hit home video in late June 2018.

Escape Plan 2: Hades


Escape Plan 2: Hades, directed by Steven C. Miller, is the first of two sequels to the 2013 action flick Escape Plan, which starred action icons Sylvester Stallone and Ahnold Schwarzenegger. I loved Escape Plan when it came out, but it wasn’t a big hit at the North American box office (the movie was about two decades too late to be a big deal). Escape Plan was a big hit internationally, though ( according to Wikipedia the movie made triple its budget at the worldwide box office), and when it was announced that there would be a sequel I was surprised and intrigued. I was surprised because I just didn’t think it would get a sequel, even if it made big money worldwide. And I was intrigued because, if a sequel was happening, would both Stallone and Schwarzenegger return? Would it be a theatrical release? Just what the hell would a sequel to Escape Plan look like?

Escape Plan 2: Hades did not get a theatrical release in the United States or Canada (it did receive some theatrical play internationally but it wasn’t a wide release. The sequel played theatrically in China, which makes sense since a Chinese company co-financed it) and Schwarzenegger did not return. Stallone did, though, and he was joined by Dave “Batista” Bautista, Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson (he was also in the first movie), and badass Chinese actor Huang Xiaoming. Compared to the first movie, Hades was a modest production at best, but what it lacked in budget it made up for it with energy, action, and committed performances from the cast. The story seems a bit truncated, but it’s incredibly watchable, and that, to me, is what’s most important.

Stallone once again plays prison escape artist and professional security expert Ray Breslin, and he’s now running a sort of private security firm out of Atlanta, Georgia. When he isn’t devising schemes to break out of new maximum security prisons and whatnot, Breslin is sending his crackerjack team of badasses Shu (Huang Xiaoming), Luke (Jesse Metcalfe), and Kimbral (Wes Chatham) all over the world to rescue hostages and whatnot. After a rescue mission doesn’t go as planned, Breslin fires Kimbral for not being enough of a team player. Kimbral can’t believe it as he believes he’s an integral part of the team and has technical expertise that no one else on the team has. Kimbral leaves in a huff, and the rest of Breslin’s team gets on with their business.

So one year passes and Shu, while visiting his cousin Yusheng Ma (Chenying Tang) in Thailans, is attacked by strange men in masks. Shu manages to hold the masked men off for a little while, but he eventually succumbs to the numbers and is kidnapped and sent to a strange “black site” prison known as Hades. Hades, operated by the calmly sadistic Gregor Faust (Titus Welliver), is an underground sci-fi hellhole. Administered by floating robots, Hades is filled with various high profile prisoners who may not be actual prisoners/criminals (it sure as hell looks like every prisoner in Hades was kidnapped and sent there for ransom). Every week, random prisoners are forced to fight one another for the chance to be in the serene and peaceful “sanctuary” for two hours of non-underground sci-fi prison hellhole time. Overall, being in Hades is a miserable experience, but Shu figures he can find a way out of the prison. He studied prison escape under the tutelage of Ray Breslin. Shu can do this. On top of that, Shu’s cousin is also in Hades.

Why is Yusheng Ma in Hades? Basically, the people who own the prison, who could very well be the same evil corporate scumbags that owned The Tomb prison from the first movie, want Yusheng Ma to give them the patent to his super satellite. Yusheng Ma has no interest in giving up his life’s work, but at the same time he isn’t as tough and badass as Shu. Can Yusheng Ma keep his secret, and can Shu help him stay alive long enough to escape the prison, too?

Some time passes, and Shu notices that Kimbral is also in Hades. How the hell did that happen? Kimbral claims not to know how he ended up in Hades, but he, too, hates being there and wants out. Kimbral and Shu form a kind of prison friendship and try to work together to find a way out. Will that scheme work? Can Shu and Kimbral get along, especially after the way the opening hostage rescue scene played out?

Now, while all of that is going on, Breslin tries to figure out where Shu is and what the hell happened to him. With Hush, Luke, and Abigail (Jaime King) helping him out, Breslin also calls in his old pal and fellow badass Trent Derosa (Batista). We see Breslin and Derosa attempt to question some people in a bar who may know where Shu is, only to be attacked by the same sort of masked men who attacked Shu. Breslin and Derosa make quick work of the masked men, but, hell, where are they from? What the hell did Breslin and his team get involved in?

Escape Plan 2: Hades moves along at a breakneck pace, never really letting up. Even when the story focusses on the Hades prison, a place where time doesn’t seem to matter, Hades moves quickly. The Hades prison set is ultimately just a series of rooms that are guarded by robots and laser walls and a few hallways and is kind of ingenious. Human guards do appear every so often, but prisoners rarely interact with them. Prisoners spend most of their time with their fellow prisoners. Prisoner are monitored by various cameras, so on top of the robots something is always watching them. When it comes to the scenes where Breslin and Derosa are in the bar and just working the case, you get the sense that these scenes were meant to be longer and more involved but, because of budget and time, they just happen and the story moves on. The scenes work, but, again, they probably should have been longer.

The action sequences are well staged and generally exciting. There’s a nice blend of modern Asian martial arts via Huang Xiamong (I’ll have to see what else he’s done because he’s fantastic) and the brutal brawling that’s the calling card of guys like Stallone and Batista. The gun battles are well done, and there’s even a pretty cool car chase sequence. Director Miller is a veteran of low budget action and genre cinema, as he’s responsible for the Silent Night, Deadly Night remake/reboot Silent Night and some of the recent low budget output from Bruce Willis (Marauders, Extraction). He clearly knows how to get good looking thrills and action on a budget. I’d love to see what he could do with more resources.

The last quarter of the movie or so could have played a little longer. More and more characters end up in the Hades prison as the movie goes on, so why not spend more time there? The ending is a tad abrupt. In fact, the ending acts as a cliffhanger of sorts, but from what I’ve read about the third Escape Plan movie, Escape Plan: The Extractors, parts 2 and 3 really don’t have anything to do with one another. Unless there’s quick dialogue in Extractors that sort of fills in the gaps between parts 2 and 3, I’m guessing that the Hades cliffhanger is going to remain a cliffhanger for some time to come (more on that in a second).

When it comes to the movie’s cast, Stallone and Batista are top billed, but Huang Xiaoming is the movie’s actual star. He’s in basically the entire movie, his Shu character is the focus of most of the story, and he carries the thing from start to finish. Xiaoming does a great job as a badass protector trying to figure out how to escape the prison. He can do it all: fight, act, etc. As I said, I think I need to see what else Xiaoming has done in the action genre because he has obvious skills and is charismatic as hell.

When it was announced that Hades was going to be a direct-to-video movie and that Stallone was going to star, I figured that by “starring” what Stallone was actually going to do was be in the movie at the beginning and end, perhaps sitting at a desk or something. I didn’t think he would do any action in the movie at all. Well, amazingly, Stallone is in the movie way more than I expected him to be. He isn’t onscreen as much as Xiaoming, but Stallone actually figures into the story, including the ending, and has a few decent action scenes, including a wicked fight with the movie’s main villain. Stallone also doesn’t look bored or “above it all,” either, which is nice. Now, Stallone recently said that Hades is the “worst produced movie” he’s ever been in, so it sounds like he didn’t really care for making this movie. I’d like to know what, specifically, happened during filming that made him hate being in it. As far as I know Stallone hasn’t elaborated on his experience, and no one else involved in the movie has said anything, so, really, what the hell happened here? Escape Plan 2: Hades is a good movie, almost great at times. It isn’t a disaster. So, again, what the hell happened?

Batista does a good job as badass Trent Derosa. He isn’t in the movie all that much (Stallone is in the movie more than he is), but the sequences Batista is in are all terrific. I’m intrigued to find out how much he’s in the next one. Is his part bigger in Extractors? The same goes for Curtis Jackson, aka 50 Cent. Does he get to do more than sit at a computer in the next one?

Jesse Metcalfe does an okay job as Luke, one of Breslin’s agents. He isn’t an action star but he can keep up with everyone and he never looks like a fool. And Wes Chatham is pretty good at everything, too, including being a fucking douchebag.

And then there’s Titus Welliver as Gregor Faust, the head of the Hades prison. My God, Faust is a terrible person. There’s absolutely nothing redeeming about him at all. He’s the ultimate scumbag. Gregor can also, apparently, knife fight with the best of them (well, his stunt double can). I think you’ll enjoy what happens to him. Welliver clearly knows how to make a bad guy a real deal bad guy.

Escape Plan 2: Hades is a good, almost great, direct-to-video action flick. Could it have been better? Yeah, probably, with a bigger budget it could have been a, well, bigger movie. But, at the same time, director Miller makes the most of what he has to work with and does a great job making an entertaining movie. And that’s what Escape Plan 2: Hades is, an entertaining movie. If you enjoyed the first Escape Plan, you might like this one, although it’s obviously a much smaller movie. If you’re a fan of direct-to-video action flicks, Escape Plan 2: Hades is an absolute must see. It’s fun, it’s entertaining, and it’s badass when and where it needs to be. I can’t wait to see if Escape Plan: The Extractors is as good, or better.

See Escape Plan 2: Hades. See it, see it, see it.

So what do we have here?

Dead bodies: 20+

Explosions: Several.

Nudity?: None.

Doobage: A hostage situation, martial arts hooey, AK-47 hooey, exploding building, truck hot wiring, a big meeting, board game hooey, presentation practice, multiple men with strange masks, Taser hooey, an underground prison of some sort, loads of screaming prisoners, a big fight, electrocution, some bullshit about a super satellite or something, talk of the private prison business, potential sexual harassment in the workplace, a bar brawl and shootout, shotgun hooey, a group electrocution, a car chase, a tandem martial arts brawl, three bald computer nerds, gun procurement, a big surprise, a full scale brawl, a very bloody mouth, a team of assassins, a tooth communicator, painting, laser point hooey, a power outage, mega Taser hooey, exploding door, serious gut stabbing, some of the worst stunt/fight doubling in low budget movie history, machine gun hooey, a mega fucking neck breaker, and a cliffhanger.

Kim Richards?: None.

Gratuitous: Atlanta, Georgia, Sylvester Stallone, 50 Cent, Sylvester Stallone playing a board game, Shanghai, China, Thailand, a sex shop sign, an underground prison, a sticky note, Dave “Batista” Bautista, a bar brawl and shootout, modern muscle car bullshit, “negative skeleton theory,” Batista solving a Rubik’s Cube in like thirty seconds, Sylvester Stallone and Dave “Batista” Bautista talking to one another via computer, a tooth communicator, working as a team, and a cliffhanger.

Best lines: “Get them on the truck. Now,” “Shu! The algorithm was solid!” “Next time I’ll listen to you. Maybe,” “No one does it alone,” “Listen to me on this, Shu. Always listen to your intuition. Always,” “Battle is over,” “Are you the warden? Your cousin is a brilliant man,” “I know everything about my enemies. You want to know who I am? I am the zookeeper,” “Not every day is a fight day,” “Ten million dollars!,” “Breslin! Good to be back? No, it’s bad to be back,” “You are on the wrong side of the zoo, my friend,” “I am going to get us out of here,” “Look, I don’t know what your deal is but I don’t want to die,” “Shut up, Bug,” “We are Legion,” “I know who owns the sparrow account,” “I’ve waited a long time to see that look on your face,” “I need you cue balls to cover our ass. We are Legion. Whatever,” “Medical secured,” “He’s good, but my machine always wins,” Now I am the zookeeper,” and “Nice PJ’s. Where’s your fucking teddy bear?”

Rating: 8.5/10.0


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Things to Watch Out For


Road Games Collector’s Edition: This classic 1981 thriller comes to us from the fine folks at Shout! Factory and its Scream Factory imprint and, man, this Collector’s Edition Blu-ray is loaded with all sorts of special features (check out the full listing here). The great Stacy Keach and Jamie Lee Curtis star in this movie about a long haul trucker in Australia who picks up a hitchhiker and then, well, all sort of bad shit happens. I never saw this until it aired on The El Rey Network and I liked it quite a bit (I don’t remember seeing this in any of the video stories I frequented back in the day, nor do I remember it airing on cable. It probably did but I just don’t remember it). If you’re a fan of this flick this Blu-ray is an obvious must own, and if you’ve never seen it? Get this Blu-ray anyway. The presentation of the movie will no doubt be kick ass (Shout!/Scream rarely disappoints).


Return to Return to Nuke’Em High A.K.A. Vol. 2: I actually got to see this hilarious Troma sequel on the big screen in an actual movie theatre back in 2017 at the Buffalo Dreams Fantastic Film Festival, and it was a tremendous experience. You don’t have to see Vol. 1 in order to enjoy this movie (I still haven’t seen Vol. 1). It’s chock full of the usual Troma stuff but, somehow, it seems more accomplished than anything Troma co-founder and director Lloyd Kaufman has ever done. It’s actually kind of brilliant in its own way. If you’re a Troma fan this is an obvious must own/must see, and if you’ve ever been curious about Troma, Vol. 2 is probably a good way to ease into checking them out. As I said, it’s kind of brilliant in its own way.


Danger God: This is a documentary about Gary Kent, who was a stunt performer in the 1960’s and 1970’s, mostly working for independent and B-movie directors like Richard Rush, Ray Dennis Steckler, and Al Adamson, among others. It looks both terrific and fascinating, as the stunt performer is an often overlooked part of the movie making business and the Hollywood machine. I will be doing a review of this documentary at some point soon, so, you know, be on the lookout for that.


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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.

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Escape Plan 2: Hades

Sylvester Stallone– Ray Breslin
Dave “Batista” Bautista– Trent Derosa
Huang Xiaoming– Shu
Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson– Hush
Jesse Metcalfe– Luke
Wes Chatham– Jaspar Kimbral
Chenying Tang– Yusheng Ma
Titus Welliver– Gregor Faust
Jaime King– Abigail

(check out the rest of the cast here)

Directed by Steven C. Miller
Screenplay by Miles Chapman

Distributed by Lionsgate Premiere and Lionsgate Home Entertainment

Rated R for violence and language
Runtime– 96 minutes

Buy it here

article topics :

Escape Plan 2, Bryan Kristopowitz