It's important to note that John Woo had nothing to do with this production. For a long time though his name was attached to this project which sparked surprise and hope. But mainly surprise. Perhaps they were truly counting on him to be a part of this production and got a little presumptuous by ordering a whole bunch of doves. Hence this film is filled with them. Could this have been an attempt to mock John Woo? If this is the case then it's no wonder Woo did not feel like to be involved. I also would not tolerate people with such attitudes. Especially since the whole concept of a sequel to this film is preposterous. Nobody asked for this sequel. But ok it's here so let me tell you what I thought of it.
Hard Target 2 has no connection to the original. It basically takes out one element of the original which is the manhunt. This time the main villains are Robert Knepper and Temuera Morrison. What happened to you Temuera? You once were a warrior. Anyway they are quite competent and adequate yet they are a little too reserved and calm. At least Lance Henriksen and Arnold Vosloo knew how to exaggerate the evilness of their characters. They were aware that the premise is ridiculous and that you had to embrace the cheese to make it work. Knepper and Morrison take it far too seriously. Not once do they crack jokes or have some fun interactions like Pik and Fouchon did.
For a while it managed to hold my interest. But after twenty minutes or so it became obvious that the film has one real big problem. Pacing issues. This film has some real solid moments where Scott Adkins gives us what we expect of him. Like always Scott is the best thing this film has to offer. He gives it his 100 percent when it comes to the action, stunts and acting. Too bad though that he is let down yet again by poor storytelling and even poorer direction. Roel Reiné certainly is not the worst of directors. In fact he often manages do a lot with minimal means. By that I mean that he knows how to make the action look good visually. However he is also a director that often doesn't get what makes the action more compelling. An example of this is his use of slow motion. He uses it at the most random moments ever and instead of making it look more exciting and stylish it just looks silly. It did seem like this was a little nod to director John Woo. But I don't see how you can pay tribute by doing it all wrong. Another reference to the original Hard Target was the gun used by Robert Knepper very similar to Lance Henriksen's gun. In combination with the badly timed slow motion it almost came across as a parody. Why would you insult Woo and the audience like this? That is just uncalled for. Because probably the only people who have any interest in this film are very likely the fans of the original. So a little respect please.
One other problem is that the character of Scott Adkins never truly is in danger. He is not put on the spot enough for you to buy that he is being chased by these evil and ruthless rich people. And how can we be if one of the hunters is burnt out Rhona Mitra who clearly doesn't want to be there. Or she also did not comprehend how she should have approached the role. She should have done it like she did in Doomsday. Quasi serious and tongue in cheek at the same time. But maybe this also can be blamed on director Roel Reiné. He seems to prefer the melodrama over comedy. Only by doing so he killed the fun factor considerably.
Actually I would say that this movie is no fun at all. The adequate action scenes could not prevent me from getting bored. I stopped the film like three times. I am someone who very rarely does this. But I had to otherwise I would pull out my hairs out of frustration and anger. Yes the pacing is that terrible. Hard Target 2 might not be the worst I have seen and within a certain mindset you might even find yourself enjoying the film. But if you were expecting the same level of spectacle from the original then you are better of watching that one instead.