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Review No Retreat, No Surrender 2: Raging Thunder (1987) a.k.a. Karate Tiger 2: An action classic!

genre: action, adventure, martial arts

No Retreat. No Surrender 2 is the sequel to No Retreat. No Surrender but it has no connection to the original story or character wise. Although it was intended for Jean-Cleaude Van Damme and Kurt McKinney to return as different characters. According to wikipedia they didn't show up due to safety concerns regarding filming in the Cambodian jungles. While we only can guess how this film would have been with them returning I think them not being in it might have been the best thing for the film. Since Loren Avedon is a much better fit in these Corey Yuen directed vehicles.

Make no mistake this film might have been intended for the Western market this is a Hong Kong production through and through. Corey Yuen's mark is everywhere which is what makes this sequel so good. The plot may be far fetched and nonsensical it is surprisingly compelling and entertaining. Like in most Hong Kong action films the plot is in service of the action and not the other way around so it's pretty obvious why the story plays out the way it does. You don't really get the chance to think about everything too much since the film moves from one event to another quite fast. The main characters are immensely likeable and therefore you care for them when they get into trouble and it makes you root for them when they fight. Compared to the original the sequel is bigger in scale but also contains far more action. Next to plentiful martial arts scenes you have Ramboesque shoot em up moments where Yuen actually manages to make them thrilling.

Loren Avedon who plays Scott Wylde had some acting experience doing commercials and he had a small role in Ninja Turf. Perhaps not what you would expect for a lead but was more than adequate.  (Read the following review to get more insight who he is and where he comes from.) He is charming and more importantly skilled and given many opportunities to shine. He did such a good job that he returned two more times in the film series. The main villain in this story is played by Matthias Hues. I guess he looked the most like Van Damme and was needed to remain appealing to the Western market. But I personally would have preferred if they had left him out and had made number two named Ty ( Hwang Jang Lee) the main baddie. He at least was well trained in martial arts while Hues was more a body builder who knew some taekwando. He himself admits in this interview that he was nowhere near the level of Loren Avedon and that he had to train real hard with master Hwang Jang Lee (Drunken Master) to at least look good. Acting wise he wasn't too bad but his hard thick German accent made it a little hard to swallow his character was supposed to be Russian. Does it matter much? What he lacks acting and martial arts wise he makes up with his physique. The guy is big and very muscular. He looks strong and has far too much fun throwing his opponents in pits filled with crocodiles so it's something that I can live with. Besides it gave them the opportunity to put Cynthia Rothrock against Hwang Jang Lee which is definitely one of the main highlights in the film.

Do I really need to tell you that Cynthia rocks as always? Besides her excellent ass kicking she has some real good chemistry with Max Thayer. Thayer is a complete mystery to me. I only remember him from this film but his performance was that of an actor who could do it in his sleep. Very convincing. It looks like that he is going to be reunited with Rothrock in a movie called Bitchfight. Sounds promising!

Overall Raging Thunder is a sequel that is bigger and better than the original. So if you enjoyed that one but never have seen it make sure you do.

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