Sunday, 7 December 2008
Best of the Best 2
BEST OF THE BEST 2 (1993)
Directed by: Robert Radler
Screenplay: Max Strom & John Allen Nelson
Starring: Eric Roberts, Phillip Rhee & Ralph Moeller
Best of the Best 2 is a surprisingly good early 90s action/martial arts film that not only tops its predecessor but delivers mucho full on action. The original Best of the Best was a decent tournament fighting flick about an American martial arts team overcoming the odds to take part and triumph in a martial arts contest. Routine but well made and featuring some cool fights it also featured Roberts uttering the great line “I’m gonna take your head off” before going toe-to-toe with an opponent. He returns along with Phillip Rhee and Chris Penn for a slicker and far superior sequel. This time around the tournament is an illegal fighting arena in a Las Vegas hotel. Fighters battle each other aiming for a chance to fight reigning champion Brakus (Moeller), who has a knack of pretty much killing everyone he fights. Hot shot Penn enters the tournament and gets to fight Brakus but, wouldn't you know it, he ends up dead. So in true sequel fashion his good buddies Roberts and Rhee vow revenge but not before some intense training out in the desert with action stalwart Sonny (Billy from Predator) Ladham.
With a bigger budget and more nasty bad guys to play with returning director Robert Radler ups the stakes to deliver a violent, vicious sequel. Mixing the fighting tournament film with a traditional action film means we get plenty of action in and outside the ring. The tournament fights might be short and sharp but always crisp and brutal and feature the novel visual of a gladiator theme: Brakus believes he is a true warrior so dresses up and fights like it was old Roman times. On the outside there is plenty of action as Roberts and Rhee try to avoid capture by the bad guys leading to some explosive confrontations in a house and at a secluded ranch. The action is slick, punchy and mixes martial arts and gunplay effectively. The training sequences are fun if a little short as the gruff, tough and often drunk Landham trains the fighters to take on the seemingly invincible Brakus.
The flick is all slick and grit but not ashamed to tip over into comic book proportions with the action and the bad guys chewing up everything in sight. This all adds to the fun and the stars play it straight, kicking ass and taking names. As well as the leads and Moeller hamming it up big time as the evil, vain Brakus there is fine support from genre regulars Meg Foster, Patrick Kilpatrick, Simon Rhee, Claire Stansfield, Kane Hodder and even Mr Las Vegas himself Wayne Newton. The best has to be Kilpatrick who erupts into violent madness at the slightest thing such as one of his henchmen tapping him on the shoulder: “Don’t you EVER touch me.” Priceless
Excellent, well made action film and the best of the series. Amazingly it stretched to four instalments though Roberts and Radler jumped ship after this entry with Rhee continuing on and even directing parts 3 and 4.