Friday, 19 August 2011

Rage and Honor 2: Hostile Takeover (1993)

It's been a couple of years since the events of Rage and Honor. Kris Fairchild (Cynthia Rothrock) has made the baffling career move from schoolteacher to CIA agent and Preston Michaels (Richard Norton) is still on the run from the bogus murder charges he was framed with in the first film. Kind of a bummer that Kris didn't do more to clear his name after all they'd been through together, but I guess she's been pretty busy, what with her two whole years of specialised spy training.

For Kris' first mission she's sent to Jakarta, where she's to meet up with a colleague who is investigating a money laundering operation. When she gets there the agent is missing, so Kris is instructed to continue the investigation alone, taking up a temp job at a bank owned by the suspected criminal. While she's there she befriends the bank owner's son Tommy, played by Melrose Place alumni Patrick Muldoon. Kris finds out that Tommy's dad is working for a powerful criminal named Buntao. There's also something about a rival criminal named Dazzo and diamond smuggling etc.

Coincidentally Preston has found his way to Jakarta as well, taking up a part time job as a bouncer/bartender at at Willy's Bar. Willy's Bar appears to be a touristy seafood restaurant and not the kind of place that would require the services of a Swayze-eqsque cooler, but sure enough a bunch of goons walk in demanding protection money. This must happen frequently because the whole time the thugs are roughing up Willy the restaurant patrons don't even bat an eyelid. Eventually Preston starts beating up the goons with anything handy... a fish, an oar, a life preserver etc. Dude could do some real damage in a T.G.I. Friday's.

Tommy just so happens to witness this spectacle and begs martial arts instruction, but Preston refuses. You see, he's a renegade. A lone wolf. You know this because he wears a long trenchcoat and rides a motorcycle. Dead giveaways. Eventually though, Tommy wears him down and Preston takes him under his wing. Tommy even invites Preston to his awesome pool party, which is where Preston and Kris finally meet. Unfortunately it's one of those scenes where Kris is undercover and has to pretend she doesn't know him rather than an awesome mistaken identity fistfight.

So naturally the two of them team-up to take down Buntao, but unfortunately he's a pretty boring villain. I liked the part where he is so happy about his diamond deal that he starts singing, but apart from that he's pretty forgettable. He does, however, have a beefy henchman named Thor who, like Conrad Drago before him, has a kickin' blonde mullet. Thor has one up on Drago though, because his hair is the genuine article and not a ridiculous wig. Early in the film Thor gets out of his car and gives a little hair flip, like he's saying "Fuck you, Conrad Drago. Look at the silkiness, the managability. This is the real deal right here." I don't know what it is with this series and platinum blonde hockey hair, but I approve. At least his haircut is memorable.

I was weighing up whether or not to spoil the film, but I figure it's an 18 year old DTV action film so fuck it. It turns out that the rival criminal Dazzo is actually Tommy working under an alias. Tommy says it took a long time for him to think of the name. He wanted something "snappy and scary", and I guess it is if you find bogans named Darren terrifying, which is understandable. I don't know if it's because my brain automatically switches to standby mode in this kind of thing, but this twist actually caught me by surprise. Once Tommy's true nature as a ruthless criminal is revealed he keeps quoting all these rules of business. You know, "rule one: surround yourself with talent", "rule two: consolidate your assets" etc. It's pretty annoying, so it's probably a good thing that he was only the villian for the last half hour or so.

The final fight takes place at the construction site where they were doing the diamond exchange. It was either that or an abandoned steel mill I guess. Preston's fight with Tommy ends with Tommy hanging off the edge of a big crane. They must have read my review of the first film before travelling back in time to make the sequel, because rather than do the thing where the bad guy attacks when the hero's back is turned, thus sealing his own fate, Tommy just flat-out surrenders. Preston decides to open another Willy's Bar in L.A and reveals to Kris that he's pinched one of the diamonds. She reacts with a sly chuckle which doesn't seem particuarly realistic, but I guess turning a blind eye to diamond theft is hardly the biggest injustice the CIA have perpetrated.

I looked up the director Guy Norris, if only to see if he was any relation to Chuck, and it turns out he's a pretty awesome Australian stunt man. Fucked his leg up pretty bad on Mad Max 2. Not too many director credits, aside from some Australian TV stuff and a martial-arts themed FMV game for the Sega CD (also starring Richard Norton) which looks amazing in a terrible-FMV-game kind of way. Anyway, he does a decent job here. I think the fight scenes are choreographed and shot a little better than in the first one. I especially liked the bit where Cynthia Rothrock headbuts a guy in the nuts. I don't know if she learned that little number during her high-school teaching days or her CIA training, but it sure was effective.

I probably liked this a little more than the first one. The fights were more plentiful, the locations were more interesting and the mullets were more convincing. Rothrock and Norton are good together and this time the quality of acting surrounding them is so egregiously awful (minus one dreamy Patrick Muldoon of course) that they seem quite good in comparison.

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