Best of the Best 2 (1993) – Review

3 Stars

Still riding high after defeating the Korean national karate team at the Olympics in the climax of Best of The Best. Three members of the winning American squad have opened a martial arts academy. After the death of their former olympic teammate in an illegal underground no holds barred fighting tournament, two karate instructors become hell bent on revenge.

Those familiar with the ridiculous Best of the Best will no doubt be pleased to hear that this follow up is a far better film. The picture was obviously inspired by genre classics like Enter the Dragon and Bloodsport. While Best of the Best 2 doesn’t quite reach the heights of those titles it does an effective job of being entertaining and generating a fair amount of excitement and interest on its march to a preordained conclusion.

In the era, pre-UFC fight pundits would argue what style is more effective. They would dream up outlandish competitions like a sumo wrestler versus a boxer or a Savate specialist against a Jujitsu master. Nowadays these arguments are settled in a pay-per view showdown hosted in an Octagon. Back in 1993 we had films like Best of the Best 2 to realize our ideal match-ups.

Tae kwon do wizard Philip Rhee is the star of this lightweight sequel. Rhee and his brother Simon (also returning from the first film) are absolutely magnificent martial artists and natural actors. Each has an intense and underrated screen presence. I would have liked to have seen a greater output from either man. As it is this series (four films in all) was the Rhee family’s love letter to the Arts.

Las Vegas mainstay Wayne Newton is cast in the role of an unscrupulous fight promoter running a human cockfight. Newton is a blast and his infectious energy and ever grinning mug is enough to make you wish Rhee would blast him in those pearly white veneers. Fight films like this are dependent on their bad guy for success and Best of The Best 2 has a great one in Schwarzenegger look a like Ralf Moeller. The german born Moeller is an ex bodybuilder with an imposing physique and a Conan-esque line delivery. The only knock on Moeller is that his fighting skills aren’t nearly as polished as the fluid athleticism from Rhee and the climatic fight sequence isn’t as thrilling as it should be.

However there are some fantastic matches leading up to that point. One in particular showcases Rhee’s Tae kwon do kicks against the rangy punches from an elite pugilist. It’s an explosive bout with a dramatic turn that ends the fight instantly. Longtime action film composer David Michael Frank (Hard to Kill, Above the Law) delivers another theme heavy early 1990s electric guitar influenced mix of awesomeness. The most polished and entertaining film in the series.

Director: Robert Radler
Stars: Eric Roberts, Phillip Rhee, Chris Penn

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