Hard Target 2 (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)
September 3, 2016 by Dennis Amith
“Hard Target 2” is an decent yet banal action film. Action films will enjoy it, others may find the storyline reminiscent to other films. But I did find the film to be entertaining, action-packed and showing us that Scott Adkins does have the potential of becoming the next major action star. If you enjoy popcorn action films, “Hard Target 2” is for you!
© 2016 Universal Studios. All Rights Reserved.
TITLE: Hard Target 2
FILM RELEASE: 2016
DURATION: 1 Hr. and 44 Minutes
BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1), English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Espanol, Brazilian, Portuguese, Hungarian DTS Digital Surround 5.1, Polish, Russian Dolby Digital 5.1, Subtitles: English SDH, Brazilian, Bulgarian, Cantonese, Czech, Espanol, Francais, Greek, Korean, Hungarian, Complex Mandarin, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Thai and Turkish.
COMPANY: Universal Pictures Home Entertainment
RATED: R (Violence and Language)
Release Date: September 6, 2016
Directed by Roel Reine
Written by Matt Harvey, Dominic Morgan, George Huang
Produced by Chris Lowenstein
Executive-Producer: Sean Daniels
Line Producer: Oliver Ackermann
Cinematography by Roel Reine
Music by Jack Wall
Edited by Radu Ion
Casting by Jan Glaser, Christine King, Amanda Mitchell
Production Design by Boontawee Thor Taweepasas
Scott Adkins as Wes Baylor
Robert Knepper as Aldrich
Rhona Mitra as Sofia
Temuera Morrison as Madden
Ann Truong as Tha
Adam Saunders as Esparto
Jamie Timony as Landon
Peter Hardy as Jacob Zimling
Sean Keenan as Tobias Zimling
Troy Honeysett as Jonny Sutherland
Katrina Grey as Kay Sutherland
Disgraced and retired mixed martial artist Wes “The Jailor” Baylor (Scott Adkins) couldn’t refuse the million dollar purse offered to fight in Myanmar. When he arrives to fight, he learns he’s been tricked into becoming the target of a human hunt. Carrying only water and a ruby-filled money belt for the last person standing, Wes must outsmart the heavily armed group who’s paid to kill him. As Wes fights for his life in the treacherous jungle terrain, the hunters become the hunted. Hard Target 2 is a must see film for action and martial arts fans featuring Adkins in incredible fight scenes.
Back in 1993, the American action film “Hard Target” from filmmaker John Woo was released in theaters. The film marked John Woo’s American debut and was the first major Hollywood film by a Chinese director and would star action star Jean-Claude Van Damme. And the film would do well in the box office and would lead to more feature film roles for both Woo and Van Damme in Hollywood.
Fast forward to 2016 and the direct-to-video action film “Hard Target 2” directed by Roel Reine (“Death Race 2”, “Admiral”, “Death Race 3: Inferno”) and written by Matt Harvey, Dominic Morgan and George Huang will be released on Blu-ray courtesy of Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.
The film stars Scott Adkins (“The Expendables 2”, “Undisputed III: Redemption”, “The Bourne Ultimatum”), Robert Knepper (“Prison Break”, “Hitman”, “Transporter 3”), Rhona Mitra (“Shooter”, “Underworld: Rise of the Lycans”, “The Number 23”), Temuera Morrison (“Star Wars: Episode II and Episode III”, “Speed 2: Cruise Control”), Ann Truong (“Hunters”, “Neighbours”) and more.
“Hard Target 2” revolves around mixed martial artist Wes “The Jailer” Baylor (portrayed by Scott Adkins). He and his good friend Jonny Sutherland (portrayed by Troy Honeysett) have big plans with their MMA careers but in the ring, they are the biggest rivals.
Both make a deal that if Jonny wins, he buys his dream house on the beach. If Wes wins, he buys Jonny and his wife his dream house on the beach.
During their fight night, both put it all on the line but when Wes performs a hard kick to Jonny’s head, he knocks him out. While it was a great win for Wes, Jonny died after the kick.
Unfortunately for Wes, the guilty conscience of killing his friend gets the best of him and leaves the circuit and instead fights in underground fights in different parts of the world.
Wes catches the eye of the wealthy Aldrich (portrayed by Robert Knepper) and tells him that he has a fight in Myanmar that Wes can make a lot of money. All Wes has to do is agree to fight.
Wes agrees and they fly out to Myanmar, but is shocked that he is in the middle of a jungle area and people are there with guns.
When Wen asks Aldrich where the ring is, he is then told that the fight is not in the ring. The fight is for his life as he has two minutes to run away and then hunters who paid money to hunt after him.
Wes tries to argue with Aldrich that he didn’t agree to this type of fight, but when Aldrich and the hunters threaten to kill him, Wes realizes that these guys will kill him and now he must try to hide and survive in the jungle and defeat the hunters as the rules are “kill or be killed”.
“Hard Target 2” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 aspect ratio). Picture quality is fantastic as the film was shot outdoors in the jungle. Closeups show great detail, skin tones look natural and black levels are nice and deep.
AUDIO & SUBTITLES:
“Hard Target 2” is presented in English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, Espanol, Brazilian, Portuguese, Hungarian DTS Digital Surround 5.1, Polish, Russian Dolby Digital 5.1.
The film features a lot of action scenes and use of armory, machine guns, grenade launchers, mine explosions and more. So, there is a good amount of surround sound usage. Dialogue is crystal clear.
Subtitles are in English SDH, Brazilian, Bulgarian, Cantonese, Czech, Espanol, Francais, Greek, Korean, Hungarian, Complex Mandarin, Polish, Romanian, Russian, Thai and Turkish.
“Hard Target 2” comes with the following special features:
- Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary with Director Roel Reine, Scott Adkins and Robert Knepper.
- Deleted Scenes – (6:04) Featuring six deleted scenes.
- Deleted Shots Montage – (1:59) A montage of aerial surrounding shots to other scenes not used in the film.
- A Fighting Chance: Behind the Scenes of Hard Target 2 – (5:12) Featuring interviews with the cast and crew about the making of “Hard Target 2”.
- Hard Target 2: Through the Lens – (2:42) A featurette on the filming of “Hard Target 2” with interviwes with director and cinematographer Roel Reine and shooting quickly with a short budget.
- Into the Jungle: On Location of Hard Target 2 – (2:24) A featurette about working in Thailand and working in the hot weather.
- Thrill of the Hunt – (3:10) The cast discuss their characters in the film.
“Hard Target 2” comes with a slipcover and an UltraViolet Digital HD code.
Watching “Hard Target 2”, it was a film that I had mixed emotions.
For one, I did enjoy the original John Woo film starring Jean-Claude Van Damme. And I am familiar with Scott Adkins filmwork, so I know he is a capable action star.
But the storyline is quite banal in the way that it is reminiscent of films such as “Battle Royale”, “The Condemned” and even the recent film, “The Duel” (a western which featured wealthy individuals paying top dollar to hunt down innocent civilians).
This time around, a group has paid money to hunt down MMA fighter, Wes Baylor.
First, let’s talk about the positives of the film. Scott Adkins is an action star that plays the character well and felt his acting was much better in this film compared to Jean-Claude Van Damme’s acting in the original “Hard Target” (with that being said, there are scenes with shoddy acting featuring other characters, but I’ll let that slide). I also felt that for a low budget film, it was great to see the film incorporate helicopters, vehicles, weaponry, explosions and awesome fight choreography. And of course, to show the brutality of the setting when it comes to the death of various individuals and showing how the antagonists have no qualms killing anyone.
I also like the homage to John Woo with the doves flying near Wes Baylor and for the most part, filmmaker/cinematographer Roel Reine did a job of keeping things tight and confined to the jungle and using everything he had to his disposal despite the quick shooting time and low budget. He made it all work when it came to location and showcasing the fight choreography and gun battles!
But not all worked for the best in the film.
I had a problem with consistency. Similar to a few other films of this genre that no matter how many bullets are sprayed, not one bullet hits the protagonist. That is something that I can easily forgive as it’s common thing to see.
But I have more of a problem of consistency to injuries on display. If people get hurt and beatup, they shouldn’t look good in scenes that take place hours after. If one is punched, had their face slammed or have undergone a lot of fights, a film must be consistent in showing that and look like nothing bad has happened to them.
A sign of a good action-film is not just relegated to just fight choreography, it’s consistency of characters through a battle. If Rock Balboa got punched in the face, we see how it affects him later in the film and those injuries last to the very end of his matchup.
If characters rummage through mud, water and are grimy because of it, the character should not look too clean hours later. Those are pet peeves of mine in action films that they can get the choreography to look great, but when it comes to bruises, scars, clothing getting damaged, these situations are not always consistent and would like to see a little realism when it comes to that.
I know, that’s me being a little nitpicky and I know, watching the special features, the cast and even director Roel Reine were talking about how there wasn’t much time to shoot this film and so he had to stick with the budget and the time allotted. So, I can understand.
But I do feel that “Hard Target 2” is a great film for actor Scott Adkins, to show he is an action star and one that I hope gets a big break to be a protagonist in higher budget action films because he definitely has the potential.
Meanwhile, director Roel Reine has shown that he is a great time manager and as a director, he has managed to direct solid direct-to-video action films within its small budget. But would also like to see Reine get a bigger break and direct a major action film.
As for the Blu-ray release, picture quality is fantastic and it helps that the majority of the shots for the film were outdoors. As for the lossless audio, as one can expect from an action film, there is good use of the surround channels during the fight/gun battle scenes and various explosions. Meanwhile, dialogue is crystal clear. The Blu-ray also features a few short featurettes and deleted scenes plus an audio commentary.
Overall, “Hard Target 2” is an decent yet banal action film. Action films will enjoy it, others may find the storyline reminiscent to other films. But I did find the film to be entertaining, action-packed and showing us that Scott Adkins does have the potential of becoming the next major action star.
If you enjoy popcorn action films, “Hard Target 2” is for you!
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