HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: The Condemned 2
HTS Overall Score:71
Films and stories about hunting the most dangerous prey of all, man, have been around since as long as I can remember. I still remember reading “The Most Dangerous Game” (1932) as a child and falling in love with the genre, and as awful as it is in retrospect, I have an enormous soft spot for Jean Claude Van Damme’s “Hard Target”. “The Condemned” was one of WWE film’s very first endeavors starring Stone Cold Steve Austin, and actually ended up being a surprisingly fun movie. There was nothing inventive or intelligent about the action movie, but it was bloody and viciously brutal as the prisoners are forced to duke it out to the death while rich snots cheered and bet millions on their survival. I don’t think that anyone was really clamoring for a sequel, but then again that’s what seems to come out of Hollywood the most these days. Randy Orton was decently charismatic enough in “12 Rounds 2”, but “The Condemned 2” takes a nearly fool proof sub-genre and manages to mess it up pretty badly.
Will Tanner (WWE superstar Randy Orton) is a bounty hunter charged with taking down an undercover gambling ring run by Cyrus Merrick (Wes Studi). The thing is that the gambling is a bit more insidious than betting on some dogs or roosters. They have hooked up bums to machines and bet on how long they last before kicking the bucket as all sorts of torturous attacks are carried out on their bodies. Coming in armed to the teeth (but told to ONLY shoot for the knees…..which is actually one of the most ludicrous tropes in all of Hollywood if you know anything about firearm usage) Tanner and his team end up accidentally killing Cyrus. Going to jail and pleading to manslaughter (even though Cyrus ATTACKS Will with a deadly weapon which would have exonerated him as self-defense) the bounty hunter hangs up his duds and leaves the life, much to the chagrin of his father, Frank (Eric Roberts) who started the business 30 years ago.
However, things aren’t over for poor Will. One of his old squad, a guy named Michaels (Morse Bicknell) attacks him at a bar for no apparent reason with Will having to kill his former friend and coworker. Claiming self-defense (and somehow the cops BELIEVING him this time) Tanner is let go only to be picked up and attacked by ANOTHER one of his squad. This time Will is able to wheedle out the fact that Cyrus’ second in command, Raul (Steven Michael Quezada) has taken up the mantle of Cyrus and modeled a game after the style of the original “The Condemned”. This time he’s taking revenge on Will by making all the contestants the bounty hunter’s former co-workers. Hunted and outgunned by all his old men, Will has to figure out how to get to Raul and end this nightmare before the people he once relied upon end his life.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=63081[/img]Ok, I really kind of liked “The Condemned”. It was simple, fun and just an excuse for big burly men to beat each other up in battles to the death. The formula is tried and true, and extremely SIMPLE. You have bad guys controlling a game and the other “badguys” have to duel it out until the real hero gets ticked off and wipes out all the bad guys behind the scenes and we cheer. It’s not intelligent, it’s not anything inventive, but it’s FUN. “The Condemned 2” manages to take that simple formula and turn it into eye roll worthy schlock that makes even “The Condemned” look really good. Instead of logic, we’re supposed to give up ANY semblance of sense in the movie. Instead of keeping the contestants in a confined island or area where they are FORCED into these situations, Raul decides to just threaten the rest of Will’s crew and hope that’s enough incentive to turn these guys into savage killers who will just go out and hunt their buddy down in the desert INSTEAD of just going into hiding. Had these guys been dumped on a desert island, or out in the boonies with the only way out being through the others I would have bought it, but just saying “yeah, go kill your buddy, if he doesn’t kill you then you win” made me scratch my head. Even then, half way through the film he teams up with a couple of his old bounty hunter contestants and they turn against Raul. Something which would have made sense about an HOUR ago!
To make matters worse the dialogue is just plain bad bad bad. Raul is one of the most unimpressive villains I have seen in ages, with dialog that would look bad compared to 80’s amateur film fests with fight choreography that is painful at best. I would have been able to forgive a lot if the action had been good, but instead it’s just poorly edited and extremely generic. Randy Orton has a very gruff “Neanderthal” personality and voice that made him a good bit of fun in “12 Rounds 2”, but here he’s flat as bored and about as believable as a bounty hunter as my mother is.
Rated R for violence throughout and language
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=63089[/img]“The Condemned 2” comes to Blu-ray with a very serviceable AVC encoded transfer that really looks great a majority of the time. Colors are warm and natural, with lots of desert browns due to the location the game is fought in. the primaries pop off the screen as they contrast with the golden browns of the desert in the form of the shirts worn by the bounty hunters as well as the bright red of the blood shown when someone else bites the dust. Fine detail is great in the daylight sequences, but there is quite a bit of dimly lit scenes near the beginning and end of the film that suffer from black crush obscuring shadow detail as well as some blatant banding. It’s a good looking transfer, but the crush and banding take it down from a great looking movie to simply a good one.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=63097[/img]The 5.1 DTS-HD MA track is more than enough for action junkies as the aggressive track just blasts from all 6 speakers. Dialog is never a problem (unless you count the actor’s delivery of said dialog..*shudder*) as it blends seamlessly with the surrounding action, there is quite a few instances where I noticed some great directional queues, especially with gunshots that plink off of rocks or whizz over Will Tanner’s shoulder during a firefight. Bass is explosive and guttural, pounding away with every gunshot carrying the weight of a cannon and explosions rocking the sofa and flapping those pant legs. Surround usage is good, but not exceptionally great, as most of the usage is explosions and the score. There’s a few directional shifts that put the surrounds to good use, but those are mostly up in the front of the soundstage I notice.
• "Drones" Featurette
• "Fight for Your Life" Featurette
I really wanted to like “The Condemned 2” as a dumb action movie, as I ended up rather enjoying “12 Rounds 3: Lockdown” for the “Die Hard” clone that it was. The first “The Condemned” movie was certainly enjoyable, but this one left a very sour taste in my mouth. The frustrating logic combined with poor fight choreography and generic gun battles was simply boring. Audio and video are great for a budget release with good video and some hard hitting audio for sure, but I still can’t get the bad taste out of my mouth for the main attraction so I would have to say that I would skip it unless you’re really bored.
Starring: Randy Orton, Eric Roberts, Wes Studi
Directed by: Roel Reine
Written by: Alan B. McElroy
Aspect Ratio: 1.78:1 AVC
Audio: English: DTS-HD MA 5.1
Runtime: 90 minutes
Blu-ray Release Date: January 19th 2016
Buy The Condemned 2 On Blu-ray at Amazon
Recommendation: Skip It
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