Hard Target 2 is out next week. Here's our early review.
Jean-Claude Van Damme, Lance Henriksen, and John Woo brought the action in the original Hard Target (1993), this time Scott Adkins is out to play the most dangerous game in the sequel Hard Target 2. While it follows a rather formulaic narrative that has been almost been done to death, it has never been delivered with such an intense and ferocious level of action. Its predecessor may have actually been upstaged. Adkins plays a former MMA fighter who takes up street fighting in Bangkok after a terrible accident in the ring. He accepts a fight with a huge payday, only to discover that he’s been selected to be the star of a man hunt in a jungle terrain.
It’s a mighty bold statement to say that the action in this is better than the 1990’s version of Van Damme and the legendary Hong Kong director John Woo, but it simply is. Adkins is a far more skilled and talented martial artist than Van Damme, showing off an assortment of high aerial kicks and appearing to perform all of his stunts. The director does an excellent job of framing the action and leaving the camera on the fights, as opposed to over-editing. This way the viewer can tell that Adkins truly knows what he’s is doing instead of the filmmakers manufacturing what appears to be a tough guy who can fight. Watching this makes me continually ask the question of why isn’t he a major action superstar. Had his career began in the same era as Van Damme and Steven Seagal, he would be a legend of action cinema. The whole crew additionally brings the excitement, featuring some insane stunts, brutal fights, explosions, and several unique kills.
The camera work is decent from the director and cinematographer Roel Reine. He creates a number of outstanding large scale scenic shots, showing off the big cities and exotic jungle locales that were used. There is good camera placement and he gets all of the needed shots, displaying a veteran ability to obtain the best shots possible of the stunts and action. The most important thing that he does is to keep the camera on Adkins and the other talented stunt fighters, and not simply relying on the use of editing. The editing is fast paced at times, but it is mostly used in order to increase the tension of that particular scene.
|I'm amazing in the sack.|
Rhona Mitra makes an appearance as one of the bad guys, but she has a minimal amount of screen time. Robert Knepper does his best Lance Henriksen impression as the main baddie, who tends to do a pretty decent job of playing this type of character.
This doesn’t reinvent the wheel, nor is it trying to do. It knows what it is and updates the story just enough to present the audience with a highly entertaining action flick.
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