RAGE AND HONOR II: HOSTILE TAKEOVER was released only a year later (1993), but it’s made by a whole new team. It’s the only narrative feature directed by Guy Norris, an Australian stunt legend who had been on the team for THE ROAD WARRIOR, stunt coordinator for DEAD END DRIVE-IN and BLOOD OF HEROES, etc.
This sequel also has a new set of writers: Louis Sun & Steven Reich. Sun has no other credits, but Reich was producer of CIRCUITRY MAN and SHAKES THE CLOWN, both also released by record-label-turned-film-distributor I.R.S. Media.
Rothrock is playing Kris Fairchild again, but she might as well be a different character. We first see her sneaking around in all black with gun holsters, wearing a headset and saying “Alpha 1 in position” before battling a bunch of terrorists in creepy Halloween masks. It will turn out to be a training exercise, meaning she has moved on from both of her jobs in part I – high school history teacher and martial arts instructor. Now suddenly she’s some kind of agent and she’s sent to work for a bank in Thailand as part of an investigation.
1. It cracks me up that when she fails the training exercise she lays on the ground and pretends to be dead. Who’s that for? (Oh, right. It’s for us.)
2. She says she put in two years of specialized training, so either this one takes place slightly in the future, part 1 took place slightly in the past, or she was already undergoing the training while teaching high school history and martial arts and helping a guy who was framed while resolving a deadly feud with her evil brother Conrad Drago.
Preston Michaels (GYMKATA fight choreographer Richard Norton) lives in Jakarta now. He gets that classic hero role of kicking ass when thugs try to squeeze protection money from a humble business owner named Charlie (Alex Tumundo), owner of Willy’s Bar. (Willy is Charlie’s parrot.) It seems like he’s just a regular there, but I guess he’s supposed to be just showing up for his bartending shift. (We don’t see him tend bar, but he refers to himself as a bartender.) The incident is witnessed by a young white boy named Tommy (the film debut of Patrick Muldoon, STARSHIP TROOPERS), who starts following Preston around and hassling him until he agrees to teach him how to fight.
After Preston gives Tom a bunch of boxing lessons we learn that Tom works with Kris at the bank. Also his dad Gerald Andrews (John J. Soucy) is rich from laundering money for Buntao (Frans Tumbuan, BLOOD WARRIORS, JAVA HEAT), who “runs one of the largest crime syndicates in Asia… more than half of all the guns and drugs in this area flow through [his] warehouses alone.”
As in part I we have a major villain with long blond hair and muscles, Buntao’s right hand man, Thor (Ron Vreeken, AMERICAN SAMURAI, CROCODILE DUNDEE IN LOS ANGELES). When Thor and his guys are sent after Tommy to get to his dad, Preston pops up, says “What’s the score, fellas?” and beats them up. So Tommy brings Preston to a big party at his dad’s, and finally – 40 minutes in – Preston is reunited with Kris. Since she’s undercover she pretends not to know him, but takes him aside to explain the deal.
So they have an adventure against crime and corruption, with plenty of fun highlights and details that made me smile. There’s a scene at a dance club called Fire (“Singapore’s hottest disco”). I like the ADR of some tourist talking about being a Capricorn. There’s a good “What the hell is going on!?” moment when Kris and Tommy are at work, she bumps into a guy and realizes he’s one of Buntao’s men so Tommy sees her kick him in the nuts. This leads to a good high speed car chase/shoot out that ends in a great car flip and explosion. Don’t worry, she’s okay – her head bleeds and she goes to the hospital but quickly leaves without even a bandage.
I don’t really think this is representative of the overall movie, but I wanted to share a frame I really liked here:
Just this tableau of a crime movie standard (the presentation of the briefcase full of money) staged in front of such a beautiful sign (this is an alley with various massage businesses) and the extra-chunky blood splatter on the car window. I know art when I see it, and I’m seeing art right now.
From the point of view of the Kris Fairchild character part II seems like it could’ve been an unrelated script with the names changes to become a sequel, but they do have a part where they discuss why Preston ran after the events of part I instead of staying to clear his name. In low moments, we learn, he sits listening to music and looking sadly at his scrap book of articles about the murder he was framed for.
I actually felt sorry for Thor when he had to go golfing with Buntao. It’s gotta be so much more fulfilling to collect protection money, even when he fails and gets beat up. He’s almost an underdog villain, because he encounters Preston 3 times and loses each fight. On Buntao’s base they’re allowed to go one-on-one and when Thor starts off poorly he punches a car in anger. Not a great strategy in my opinion. He turns it around for a little but they fight their way into an office where Preston throws him over a desk piled with coke bags and he gets it all over his pants. Just humiliation after humiliation for this guy. This is a pretty long fight and almost all of it is just Preston hammering the shit out of him. And I believe after he drops we never see him again? So he’s just laying there dead or unconscious for the rest of the movie.
Then there’s a funny twist that Buntao has them all at gunpoint when suddenly a rival gang leader previously referred to as Dazzo (Tanaka, ANGEL OF FURY, LADY DRAGON) shows up and guns down all of Buntao’s men. Better yet, (HUGE PLOT TWIST SPOILER FOR THE MOVIE RAGE AND HONOR II: HOSTILE TAKEOVER) Tommy reveals that he arranged the whole thing and “Dazzo” is just some guy who works for him pretending to be a made up gangster. It’s his Keyser Soze or his R’as Al Ghul. It really is a shame that Kevin Spacey won a best supporting actor Oscar just for ripping off what Muldoon did in this movie. I guess to win you gotta come second and add a limp. I like that Tommy switches from bland chunk of meat acting to joyful villainy as he quotes various asshole business aphorisms about his subtitular “hostile takeover.”
At the end Preston and Kris plan to go together to L.A. to start a new Willy’s Bar with Charlie and “take care of some unfinished business” (prove his innocence?). I don’t know if they wanted to do a third chapter about that or if that was just implying the resolution to the epic two part saga that is the RAGE AND HONOR mythos. Doesn’t really matter, ‘cause it works as the latter.
In my opinion the first RAGE AND HONOR is the most raging and honorable of the RAGE AND HONOR franchise, because it has more of the quirky touches that I enjoy (Brian Thompson playing a total weirdo, Hannah the Hun and her strange tribe of asskicking ladies, Baby the Wall Street broker junkie car mechanic, etc.) But this more normal sequel is pretty solid, with enjoyable enough variations on familiar action movie story components and fights that are longer and more brutal than usual for the ’90s American b-action subgenre. My sense is that this is a smaller quality drop off than most of Rothrock’s part 2s, though I haven’t rewatched many of them recently. Anyway, I liked it.
In the years since, Norris has been the stunt coordinator and second unit director on much bigger productions (STEALTH, SUICIDE SQUAD, GHOST IN THE SHELL, TRIPLE FRONTIER, THE SUICIDE SQUAD) and has officially become George Miller’s go-to guy, doing BABE: PIG IN THE CITY, HAPPY FEET, and yes, one of human civilization’s greatest achievements to date, MAD MAX: FURY ROAD. Norton was on his team for many of those and was fight coordinator (and Prime Imperator) for FURY ROAD.