Bounty Hunters 2: Hardball (1997)

After the unexpected treat which was the first “Bounty Hunters” movie, we were pretty pleased to find out there was a sequel, with the same writer / director and the same stars; we’re pleased to report it maintains the same high quality.

But they try their best to confuse you, right from the beginning. A Western scene turns out to be an advert that bounty hunting couple Jersey (Michael Dudikoff) and BB (Lisa Howard) have shot to drum up more business. Now, it’s not the Western setting which was confusing, it’s that they needed to shoot an advert at all. Isn’t the entirety of their audience bail bonds people? It would’ve been cheaper to just drive to every bail bonds place in LA and do a personal pitch to them…but then we wouldn’t have seen them in goofy hats and shirts with Morricone-esque music playing in the background.

After the events of the first movie, Jersey and BB are living together again, but because no-one could figure out another way to get the back-and-forth dialogue working, they’re soon separated, thanks to a wild scene where they bring in a bail jumper while he’s in the middle of robbing a jewellery store (Jersey, again, leaves with a couple of perps, letting BB mop the others up). An interesting thing about this movie is BB is definitely the most ass-kicking of the two, despite Jersey being played by a martial arts movie star; he kicks a few people during fights almost by accident, like he forgot the sort of character he was playing.

While you’re being distracted by (the Canadian) Lisa Howard’s odd Bronx accent, the plot will be revealed. The jewel thieves they apprehended worked for Carlos (Steve Bacic, one of the hardest working men in show business), who’s sort of a Mafia guy, and he’s less than thrilled about losing the loot. He’s even less thrilled when his boss shows up in town, wanting to promote him but only when he’s taken care of this little bounty hunter problem they have.

Now, depending on the VHS / streaming service poster you saw, you’ll either be expecting Tony Curtis or going “huh? Tony Curtis is in this movie?” He’s the boss, and to say it looks like he didn’t want to be there is something of an understatement. Presumably he owed someone a favour, or had a mortgage payment due and a spare weekend. He wanders into a scene wearing a fancy hat, looks like he’s reading all his lines off a cue card, and then wanders off and is not seen again until the last ten minutes. Although there’s a lot of competition, this will be up there when we rank the ISCFC’s all-time laziest bit part performances.

Much like part 1, they love blowing stuff up. One of the villains is a bomb-maker, so we get plenty of chances to see him enjoy his work, including one scene where a building is blown up so well that a car next to the building explodes too. Or the scene where a car he actually wanted to blow up flies through the air a little, and touches another car…which then explodes. It’s a lot of fun, honestly.

Now, I talk about sexism and exploitation quite a lot. Firstly, I’m a socialist and feminist (feel free to stop reading if you really disagree with those things, I guess) so this stuff is important to me, but sometimes it’s so blatant that you have to talk about it. I want to watch terrible cheesy exploitation movies with women (well, those of them that don’t admire the female form) and have them enjoy them too – so, have plenty of male nudity as well, or just cut down on the nude ladies. I don’t mind. “Bounty Hunters 2” is far from the worst violator, but it’s just so blatant! BB is spying on a house, and we’re treated to a couple of seconds of a woman naked; later on, a woman working in an underwear store just gets one of her boobs out while talking to a customer. Er, shouldn’t you be wearing underwear if you work at an underwear store? I sort of want to create a little graphic of a crowbar with boobs to put in these reviews.

As Carlos sends lots of Mafia hitmen after Jersey and BB (my favourite – the wildly overacting Chili), as well as works on plans to take over the whole criminal organisation, you can feel confident you’re in good hands. The action rips along, the interplay between the two leads is still strong, and there are laughs to go along with the action. I mean, it might be nice if the two trained professionals were better at fighting than every random joe they met (there’s a scene with a couple of garbage men, for instance), because every single brawl goes on a trifle too long, but small potatoes, really.

The weirdest thing you’ll notice is the lousy stunt doubles. Perhaps Dudikoff and Howard had better agents by part 2, who stopped them doing all the stunts; no idea why they hired people so unalike the stars to be their doubles, though. I was about to provide you with a screenshot, but then I decided to be like the producers of this movie and not be bothered.

So, abysmal showing by Tony Curtis, and it’s a little less comedic than part 1, with only Dudikoff and Howard really delivering funny lines. Other than that, though, everything is fine. Perhaps don’t watch the two movies back-to-back, as they’re fairly similar plot-wise, but if you have any love in your heart for buddy-buddy crime/comedy movies, you’ll have a good time.

Rating: thumbs up

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