No Retreat No Surrender 2: Raging Thunder (1987) – Review

2 Stars

In name only sequel to the film that is best known for showcasing a young Jean Claude Van Damme. Overly familiar plot manages to ripoff Rambo and Norris’s Missing in Action movies. American kickboxer Scott Wyle is on holiday in Thailand to reunite with his college sweetheart. Before the two have a chance to consummate their relationship she is kidnapped by evil henchmen in an effort to blackmail her father. A corrupt businessman targeted by gangsters and the Russian/Vietnamese armies for his vast wealth. On the run from authorities Scott seeks out an old friend and ex-pat living the pleasurable life in the slums of Bangkok. Mac Jarvis is a retired military man who runs guns and ammunition as a means of survival in the forbidden city.

After escaping the clutches of police and faced with deportation Scott persuades Mac to join him on his rescue mission. Along with Martial Arts expert and B-Move action queen Cynthia Rothrock, the trio head deep within the forest mountain range of Cambodia to rescue Scott’s girlfriend. It’s a fun premies that has been used many times before. Shot on a limited budget by action maestro Corey Yuen (The Transporter), the film is able to deliver some lowbrow entertainment. Though it never transcends it’s meager ambitions NRNS2 is littered with frequently impressive stunts and action set pieces considering the threadbare production values.

This follow up is infamous for the behind the scenes drama that saw Van Damme abandon the project and convince original star Kurt McKinney to do the same. The producers cast unknown Loren Avedon (NRNS3) in the lead and German bodybuilder Matthias Hues (TC-2000) as a physically intimidating Russian commando. It’s a shame we never saw the like of McKinney again but Avedon is an apt replacement and far better athlete. Max Thayer steals the show with his easygoing everyman persona, he comes off onscreen like a B-movie Harrison Ford. The unlikely alliance forged between Avedon, Thayer and eventually Rothrock is the heart and most intriguing aspect of the film. A catch score and surprise ending leave the viewer wanting more. Followed by a sequel No Retreat No Surrender 3: Blood Brothers.

Director: Corey Yeun
Stars: Loren Avedon, Max Thayer, Cynthia Rothrock

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