Hard Target 2 (2016)
A retired mixed martial artist can't refuse a million-dollar payday he's offered for one final match in Myanmar. But when he arrives for the fight, he learns he's been tricked into becoming the target of a human hunt.
REVIEW: It's no secret that I actually have an unnatural love for Direct-to-Video action movie sequels that are simply sequels in-name-only and have nothing to do with the first one. I know most people hate them, but I always have a blast with them and Hard Target 2, the 2016 sequel to the classic 1993 Jean-Claude Van Damme movie is no exception. Actually, this is one of the best ones I've seen.
High production values, thrilling well-shot action scenes, and serviceable acting (not great outside of Robert Knepper, but passable) can all be found in this one, with some truly amazing martial arts fights. Scott Adkins is so damn talented when it comes to martial arts, and the camera work actually manages to stay on him while performing said scenes (as opposed to being done up with dozens of quick cuts and massive close-ups like most cheap DtV movies would do), that honestly, this movie could have just been about underground martial arts fighting and I would have been glued to the screen the entire time.
Instead the plot, while not entirely about that (it does have a short section that is though) is pretty much the same basic idea as the original movie (I.E. rich people paying lots of money to hunt other people for sport) but this time instead of taking place in the streets and back alleys of some town in the ol' U.S. of A, it takes place in the thick lush jungles of another country. Which I am a-ok with as it means there is no short supply of awesome fun action scenes, which as said above, are actually shot way better in this flick than in most DtV action movies, plus it gives some truly beautiful exotic scenic shots of the green jungles, roaring waterfalls, rushing rapids, and ancient crumbling temple ruins - all that kind of stuff. It truly is a beautiful movie to look at.
My only gripe is that the movie goes on for 15-20 minutes too long. There's no excuse for any DtV movie to be over 90 minutes and it's just downright inexcusable to be just shy of two hours. Even with a movie as fun as this one, you really start to feel its runtime by the end, especially since by that point the movie starts to feel highly repetitive. There are a good handful of intense action scenes around, with one specifically just after the 90 minute mark that could have easily been the movie's climax if they so chose, and I think that would have been a much tighter, and slightly more enjoyable, experience.
Still, when you're talking about a DtV sequel-in-name-only follow-up to a beloved action movie from twenty-odd years earlier, when it's overlong runtime is the only complaint you can think of, that's pretty damn good.
9/10 rooms in the Psych Ward