Hard Target 2 (Blu-ray Review)

Hard-Target-2A disgraced mixed martial artist is forced into a deadly game of cat and mouse in the jungles of Thailand in Hard Target 2, debuting on Blu-raycombo pack, DVD and Digital HD on September 6, 2016, from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment. A hard-driving action-thriller, the Universal 1440 Entertainment original production includes Director’s Commentary as well as over 20 minutes of exclusive bonus features that take the audience behind the scenes of the ultimate manhunt.  Global action star Scott Adkins (The Bourne Ultimatum, The Expendables 2) heads up an international cast alongside Robert Knepper (“Prison Break,” Hitman), Rhona Mitra (Shooter, Underworld: Rise of the Lycans), Ann Truong (“Sonnigsburg,” “Neighbours”), Temuera Morrison (Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith, Green Lantern), Adam Saunders (“Blue Water High,” A Heartbeat Away), Jamie Timony (The Hunter,The Eye of the Storm), Peter Hardy (Chopper, “Sweat”), Sean Keenan (“Lockie Leonard,” “Puberty Blues”) and Sahajak Boonthanakit (The Man with the Iron Fists 2, 2 Guns: Zero Tolerance).

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Retired mixed martial artist Wes “The Jailor” Baylor (Scott Adkins) can’t refuse a million-dollar purse he’s offered for one final bout in Myanmar. But when he arrives for the 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 that has paid to kill him. As he fights for his life in the treacherous jungle terrain, the hunters become the hunted.

Well, we were asking for this, right?  Wait, you weren’t?  Hard Target 2 clocks in as somewhat of a title grabber that isn’t directly attached to the first film.  To say its “just” that wouldn’t be a fib.  The film truly is in the spirit of the original, it just has no connection to its precise events or the characters.  When all is said and done, Hard Target 2 isn’t so much as sequel as it is a reboot or remake.  This is the same story as we had in the first one, just with a modern upgrade and a bit of an expansion on and differentiation on the characters on both the bad guy and good guy side of things.

Headlining the original film was Jean-Claude Van Damme during his peak box office time.  Now, its direct to video action superstar Scott Adkins.  I’m a decent enough fan of Adkins (I rather enjoy both his Ninja films and Universal Soldier 4), and he’s the best you’re going to get at this level.  His performance and delivery of action is rock solid as always.  The plus for me, and what probably got me from curiosity to actually going forward and getting this review copy is Rhona Mitra.  Once again, the actress handles the action chops with no sweat off her back and looks stunning doing so.  Truth be told, I would have actually preferred this movie been a vehicle with her in the lead and Adkins as the big bad.  That would have played more interesting in my eyes.

Here’s the gist; the movie just sorta is what it is.  Its got some solid action and moves along with a good pace to just please the action junkie enough.  Is it great; nah.  Is it great for its genre; still nah.  But, it entertains and the whole man hunting man premise always proves to be one to have a cool enough concept to work on its pure bare bones level.  This one has a little bit more of an eye than something junky, has some solid character acting talent and also some good intense action.  Good enough that is.  There’s no way I really am recommending Hard Target 2, but my highest praise was that it was just okay and not as bad as it really could have been.

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Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1

Clarity/Detail:  Hard Target 2 comes with a fresh, vivid digital picture.  The image is crisp and clean.  Details are pretty high, giving off stuff like the texture of leaves or droplets of water on them.  Surfaces and clothing also reveal their patterns and blemishes.  Hard Target 2 looks as what you pretty much would come to expect from a modern digitally shot movie.

Depth:  Pretty above average look here.  Movements er on the side of more lifelike and smooth. Good spacing and free feeling between background and foreground.

Black Levels:  Blacks are deep and inky.  No crushing witnessed and shade and shadow are done quite well with minimal loss of detail.

Color Reproduction:  Colors are strong and full looking.  They pop without being vivid and bleeding.  Greens look rather good, standing above the rest in a palette that features a lot of black and blander coloring.

Flesh Tones:  Skin tones are on the side of cool and keep a look from scene to scene beginning to end.  Facial details like Adkins’ trademark 5 o’lock shadow, dried blood, wrinkles, scars and lip texture all come in looking razor sharp and like looking through a window no matter the distance.

Noise/Artifacts: Clean

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Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Portuguese 5.1 DTS Digital Surround, French 5.1 DTS Digital Surround, Hungarian 5.1 DTS Digital Surround, Spanish 5.1 DTS Digital Surround, Polish 5.1 Dolby Digital, Russian 5.1 Dolby Digital

Subtitles: English SDH, Brazilian, Bulgarian, Cantonese, Czech, Spanish, French, Greek, Hungarian, Korean, Complex Mandarin, Polish, Russian, Romanian, Thai, Turkish

Dynamics:  Hard Target 2’s 5.1 mix isn’t going to garner any “holy shit” moments, but is a rock solid effort and more than good enough to make this film work.  The foley sounds and action bite from this track are in your face and rock your living room pretty good.  Throughout the film the mix manages to skillfully balance score and vocals with the effects, having none step on each other’s toes and letting them all have their moments to shine when called upon.

Low Frequency Extension:  Explosions, gunfire, engines, crashes and punches and kick beat the subwoofer like a drum.

Surround Sound Presentation:  Most of the big action caters to the front where it is well represented back and forth and accurately set to volumes with placement.  Rear speakers do have some additions to battle scenes, but mostly hold on to performing ambiance and scoring duties.

Dialogue Reproduction: Dialogue is crisp and clean, holding strong during loud events as well.

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Hard Target 2 comes with a DVD copy and UltraViolet digital copy of the film.

Audio Commentary

  • With Director Roel Reine and stars Scott Adkins and Robert Knepper, Composer Trevor Morris, and Camera Operator Rolf Dekens

Deleted Scenes (HD, 9:47) 

Deleted Shots Montage (HD, 1:59) 

A Fighting Chance: Behind The Scenes of Hard Target 2 (HD, 5:13) – Interviews with cast, the director and stunt coordinator talk about building an homage to the John Woo original. Scott Adkins mentions that at the time the first one came out John Woo was his favorite director and Jean Claude Van Damme was his favorite actor. Features plenty of on set footage and rehearsal takes.

Hard Target 2 Through The Lens (HD, 2:43) – This is the fluff EPK featurette about how great the director is.  He’s also the DP, so there are some interesting tid bits about that.

Into the Jungle: On Location of Hard Target 2 (HD, 2:25) – Goes over what its like shooting in Thailand. Its EPK, so of course the city was great, the weather was great, the local crew was great…

Thrill of the Hunt (HD, 3:13) – Actors playing their characters during interview confessionals talking about hunting people.

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Well, it is what it is.  And its the first movie all over again with some new characters that have some differentiating backgrounds making them a little “newer”.  There are some solid action beats and moments in the film to keep one entertained til the end credits roll.  The Blu-ray for the film comes with a terrific presentation, and it comes with some safe, boring extras (aside from the commentary), but that’s way more than most probably would’ve expected.  Do I recommend you see Hard Target 2?  Not really, and you’d really want to rent this before making the decision to purchase it for sure.



Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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