Hard Target 2 (2016)

Posted in Reviews by - October 30, 2016
Hard Target 2 (2016)

Competent head-thumping action film starring the ever-dependable Scott Adkins, who gets to go native in a Thai jungle while marauding rich folk take a pop at him with their crossbows in sporting reference to John Woo’s fun Van Damme film from 1993. This isn’t a direct sequel as the title suggests; Reiné borrows a version of the same story and updates it with more tech – drones, GPS, missiles on motorbikes and so on – and adds Woo-like symbols of doves, gun fu and slow motion. Adkins – who has become a champion flag-bearer for this type of visceral, low-budget action film – avoids retreading Van Damme’s double denim heroics from the first film in favour of a new character, Wes ‘The Jailor’ Baylor, a disgraced MMA fighter seeking redemption after killing his buddy in the ring in quite spectacular style. He flees to a Bangkok shack and hits the bottle – somehow retaining his remarkable physique despite all the boozing – and earns a living as a bare-knuckle fighter. Knepper plays the greasy, sadistic Lance Henriksen-like villain very well, targeting Wes in a lethal game of cat and mouse with his own private Thai militia on standby. Wes befriends a brother and sister pair of local elephant herders who help him in his escape before also becoming embroiled in the same deadly game. Adkins’ trick of staging his fight scenes on close, handheld cameras is an incredibly immersive and effective technique; the wonderfully long takes bask in the full execution of movement and the skill of the performers. As always, he is a joy to watch.

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Editor and creator of Kung Fu Movie Guide and the host of the Kung Fu Movie Guide Podcast. I live behind a laptop in London, UK.

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