A sequel to Hard Target without Jean Claude Van Damme, John Woo or even a resurrected Lance Henriksen seems pretty pointless doesn’t it? That was my initial reaction too, but given that it did star Scott Adkins,Robert Knepper and Rhona Mitra plus was directed by a reliable maker of DTV fare like the Death Race sequels and the surprisingly good horror/western Dead in Tombstone Roel Reiné I ended up giving it 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, (Knepper) 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 hint, and he’s the prey. With a bottle of water, a bag of rubies, (his prize if he survives), and a short head start he’s now being hunted by several heavily armed sadists. Aided by a local woman with her own reasons for hating Aldrich and his crew 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 this one 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 it’s name implies, a throwback to the action films of the 90’s. 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.