Best Of The Best 2 (1993)

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It would seem, in the years between parts 1 and 2 of this franchise, two things happened. One, someone said to producer / star Philip Rhee, “if you do a sequel, I reckon you might want to tone down the wild over-emoting”. Two, Rhee said “okay, but only a little”. The concept where men cry, hug and share their deepest emotions with each other while being badass fighters (a surprisingly strong idea) has been abandoned, sadly.

Literally cutting the two other guys out of the picture, Alex, Tommy and Travis (Eric Roberts, Philip Rhee and Chris Penn) decide to move to Las Vegas and set up a karate school. I think. The movie is pretty vague on the details. While they’re in Vegas, Alex trains his son for his black belt, and the look of pride he has in his son’s achievements once again wanders close to the happy / creepy borderland; at the same time, Travis finds the world of the COLOSSEUM!

Wayne Newton, Vegas entertainer extraordinaire, is the MC and manager of the Colosseum, a gigantic underground arena where people gamble on no-holds-barred fights. If challengers can get past three of the Colosseum’s gladiators, they get to take on the gigantic Brakus in a fight to the death for the ownership of the place. Cool, right? Don’t let anything in this bit stick in your mind, though, like how is such a huge place secret, and why does this secret place have a large stone entrance with “Colosseum” written on it? How are they hiding the presumably regular stream of dead bodies?

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This film joins the “Bloodsport” series and no doubt several others in featuring the rather curious spectacle of rooms full of people cheering on murder. Travis, sadly, gets destroyed by Brakus and the crowd cheers for him to die…now, how jaded would you have to be to witness murder and be really happy about it? Is the world so awful? Not a single person was disgusted by this? If you see the crowd, though, they’re absolutely loving it – perhaps because it’s more entertaining than the dance club which is the above-ground front for this place, full of the worst music and the lamest old-white-guy dancers known to man.

Alex, Tommy and the kid go on the run from Wayne Newton’s goons, who aren’t happy that they’re trying to solve the mystery of their friend’s death, so we get the obligatory act 2 training montages. Turns out Tommy was brought up by a Native American woman…don’t think about part 1, where we saw him with his real Asian mother in a flashback, it will just hurt your brain. Turns out his…adoptive brother?…is a master martial artist who once fought Brakus himself and lost. Sure, why not? I’ve seen stupider coincidences. There’s a stupid bit where he has to train in stick fighting – possibly because Rhee is good at it and wanted to show off. Certainly not because anyone cared about it (when was the last time you saw televised stick fighting compared to boxing or MMA?)

So, you know how it’s going to go, but after the confusion of who was the star of the first movie, this is definitely the Tommy show. Eric Roberts must have liked the pay, or something, because he’s the sidekick in this, without a doubt, to a vanity producer / star. Anyway, Alex goes off to do his thing while Tommy gets ready to fight in the Colosseum. Was there any doubt? They do a lot of fighting of goons, though, so it’s more like a normal martial arts action movie – plus, there’s tons of death and violence in this, too, just to traumatise all the kids who enjoyed the family-friendly-ish part 1.

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Anyway, it’s not as insanely awesome as part 1, but it’s still got a decent budget, lots of nice set and a cast list that’s not horribly embarrassing. Eric Roberts apparently made this as a sort of apology to fans for part 1, which indicates he’s got no idea of what makes a good film.

Rating: thumbs in the middle

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