A sequel to Hard Target without Jean Claude Van Damme (Black Water, The Bouncer), John Woo (Hard Boiled, Red Cliff) or even a resurrected Lance Henriksen (West Of Hell, Mom And Dad) seems pretty pointless, doesn’t it? That was my initial reaction too. However, it did star Scott Adkins (Avengement, Abduction), Temuera Morrison (Occupation), and Rhona Mitra (Doomsday, The Loft). Plus was directed by Roel Reiné. He’s a reliable maker of DTV fare. Stuff like the surprisingly good horror/western Dead in Tombstone as well as historical epics like Redbad. I ended up giving Hard Target 2 a shot. It’s actually pretty good for what it is.
Adkins plays Wes Baylor, an MMA fighter who’s life has been on the skids since he killed his best friend in the ring. Offered a chance by promoter Aldrich, (Robert Knepper, Hitman, Prison Break) for one last big payday for a fight in Myanmar he goes for it. But it turns out it isn’t a fight but a hunt, and he’s the prey.
He’s given a bottle of water, a bag of rubies, (his prize if he survives), and a short head start. He’s being hunted by several heavily armed sadists. Aided by Tha (Ann Truong) a local woman with her own reasons for hating Aldrich. He needs to make it to the border in one piece or die trying.
Not that any of this really matters, people don’t watch these films for the plotting. It’s the action scenes that matter and Hard Target 2 delivers. Adkins has proven he has the looks and the moves to be an action hero. And while he’s not quite on the level of Van Damme, (the two co-starred in Assassination Games and at one point he was going to reprise JCVD’s role in the Kickboxer reboot) he’s certainly better than most in the DTV game.
Whether hand to hand or in a gunfight he’s convincing and the script gives him plenty of opportunities to prove it. He even gets to duel with weaponized motorcycles at one point. Mitra, who you may remember from Neil Marshall’s Doomsday plays it just as tough here, but as a villain this time. She’s even fairly convincing trading punches with Adkins.
Hard Target 2 is, as its name implies, a throwback to the action films of the ’90s. It’s loud, violent and at times silly but it keeps the talk to a minimum and the action cranked to 11. Reiné knows what the audience for these films wants and he delivers. This is one sequel that gets it right