The sort of trashy low-budget cinema we like here has problems built into it when it comes to sequels – like budgets meaning you can’t always get the same location, or actors, or the funding coming from someone who says “hey, how about a giant robot spider in this scene?” But as this article finds these problems extend also to big budget Hollywood productions and international action films starring Martial Arts legends. To that end, following a series can become an exercise in frustration, but a good way to alleviate that frustration is to write snarky articles on the internet.
This article is about those sequels. Whether they suddenly decided to set part 10 in space, the lead character undergoes an apparent personality crisis or the director decides to cast a bodybuilder, we’ll talk about them.
Nemesis 4: Death Angel This is the second twist this particular series took. Part 1 is a tense little thriller about a cop gradually losing his humanity as he gets more and more android body parts, and is well worth a watch. Then, for no real reason, part 2 onwards focused on non-acting bodybuilder Sue Price as Alex, whose DNA was crucial to ending the war between robots and humans.
But still, parts 2 and 3 sort of made sense, even if they had nothing to do with part 1. Part 4, on the other hand, just throws its hands up and goes “will this do?” The war is over, and now the soldiers on both sides work as mercenaries; oh, and Alex’s DNA is never mentioned again, either.
When we see a film is having a sequel it usually means couple of things, more of the same, bigger story and in most cases a decline in standard, yes I am aware some are actually better. But every now and then we get something completely different. I have come up with a couple of ideas where the film get taken out of its safety zone and turned into something mad.
Ong Bak (2003) – Ong Bak 2 (2008) Ong Bak 3 (2010) – with the first Ong Bak film our hero Tien (Tony Jaa) goes into the big city to retrieve a stolen statue head. This was a top quality action film where Tien gets to show off his Muay Thai style of fighting. Even though this is nothing more than a fancy action film it will be enjoyed by the fans of martial arts film.
When a sequel got announced I for one was excited to see Tony Jaa return to kick some arse. But in the end we get a film set in 1431 and plays out as a painful history lesson about Thai kingdoms of the same time period. Sure we get the same fighting and Muay Thai fighting style but the use of the name Ong Bak and same leading character really didn’t make sense. It also was split into two films with Ong Bak 3 picking up where the second one finished so in theory it should have been its own film.
Next up is Jason X (2001) – Friday the 13th – With Jason being kept in a special research facility in Crystal Lake the group of scientist decide to cryogenic freeze Jason until they find a way to kill him. After Jason gets free he goes on a rampage before getting capture and frozen, this sounds like a smooth Friday the 13th sequel going a little bit further but we then move into the year 2455. Where Jason gets taken onto a spaceship oh and comes back to life. Now we have Jason on a rampage in space, that is right not taking out horny campers, not in the forest we have him in space, where he also gets an upgrade to become an even more devastatingly monstrous killer. Jason in space was the final straw for the franchise before it got reset by Michael Bay. On the positive it is one of the most fun slashers films in recent years and has one of the best kills by Jason.
Jurassic park III (2001) – The first Jurassic Park was an instant classic, while the sequel The Lost World was great too. Both of these films have created a good reason for our teams to be on the island, the first to give positive feedback on the resort the second to stop hunting for a cruel resort. Very simple but they work. The third involved an odd couple tricking Dr Grant to return to fly over the island as a tour guide only to land there while they look for their lost son. This could work but from the moment Dr Grant has a nightmare about a raptor we know we are going to be watching something wrong here. We end up with a dinosaur swallowing a satellite phone and we hear it ringing whenever it is approaching. Really did someone just find a Peter Pan book and copy down the alarm clock idea? It is part bad sequel part weird because it follows nothing we have seen in the first two films.
I think of Karate Kid franchise immediately when it comes to dodgy sequels. The Karate Kid, Part II sees Mr Miyagi taking Daniel back to his native Japan. The bizarre thing about Karate Kid 2 is how the film begins immediately after Daniel wins the karate tournament. The psychotic John Kreese gives hell to “sweep the leg” Johnny in a car park outside the tournament arena before he is humiliated by Miyagi. The film then just jumps six months, leaving Kreese behind, almost as if they knew there would be a third film – The Cobra Kai Strikes Back! The holiday in Japan is bizarre, it starts with Miyagi getting challenged to a ‘death match’ and ends with Daniel surviving a storm and then fighting his own ‘death match’ against a guy called Chozen.
The franchise took a bizarre turn when Hillary Swank became Miyagi’s apprentice in The Next Karate Kid. I’ve deliberately swept over the third Karate Kid film because I erm… kinda enjoy it. Swank plays Julie who is a stroppy teen angry that both her parents had died in a horrible car accident (how many times has this been used in a film!). Like Mike Tyson, Julie is a fighter who cares for birds, in Julie’s case a hawk. Julie is preyed upon by a jock fraternity, goes to a Buddhist monastery for a while and then humiliates her boyfriend by beating up a bully on his behalf.
An honourable mention for weird sequels would be Beverly Hills Cop III, mainly because Eddie Murphy seemingly forgot about the character he was playing, and ended up presenting a serious mature version of Axel Foley. Without the Detroit swagger and cocky wisecracks, effectively he changed his character’s whole personality. The film lacks all the edge of the first two films and the only explanation for Murphy’s performance is that perhaps he was playing the role as a cop suffering from post-traumatic stress after dicing with death in the first two films. It’s quite funny to know that an initial idea for the third movie was to take the franchise to London, in hindsight anything would be better than setting it in a knock-off Disneyland.