Usually when you hear the word “sequel” you will sag into your chair and curse whatever deity you believe in for allowing such blasphemy to occur.
Sometimes however, a sequel can come along and can be just as good as or even better than the original.
Now as we’re The Action Elite, I want to take a look at several action movie sequels that just might be as good as or better than the original movie in the series.
Terminator 2: Judgment Day
T2 is arguably my favourite film of all time; the first Terminator was a fantastic film which gave us a classic villain in Arnold Schwarzenegger’s futuristic cyborg that’s been sent through time to kill Sarah Connor. The sequel turned that on its head and Arnold returned as the T-800 but this time as the good guy. He is assigned as John Connor’s protector and the villain is now the T-1000. Not only was the story even more in-depth, we get a better look at the post-apocalyptic future and it has real heart to it. When Arnie says “I know now why you cry, but it is something I can never do” I totally wiped away a few tears of manliness. The special effects also redefined movies and even now still stand out. Brad Fiedel’s score is no longer cheap and keyboardy sounding but has a sad, industrial Hell sound which really has a feeling of impending doom.
Where Alien was a master-work of suspense and tension, the sequel became more of an action movie and that can only be a good thing. It still manages to be nightmarish but everything about the film is bigger and frankly, better. Ripley is better defined as a character and we find out more about her backstory; in the Special Edition we even find out she had a daughter. James Horner provides one of his best ever scores which is militaristic, bombastic and exciting as Hell. The supporting cast includes Bill Paxton as the scene-stealing Hudson, Lance Henriksen as android Bishop and Michael Biehn as Corporal Hicks. The climactic fight between Ripley and the Alien Queen has become utterly iconic and everyone remembers the line: “Get away from her, you BITCH!”
The Raid 2: Berandal
Personally, I still prefer the first Raid movie as it’s more intense and the story to part 2 is a little convoluted but the action, oh Lord the action! The final fight scene between Rama & The Assassin in the kitchen is pretty much the best fight scene in years. The film has more bloodshed than a slaughterhouse and with new characters like Hammer Girl and Baseball Bat Man; it still manages to fill you with shock and awe. Director Gareth Evans wasn’t afraid to try something a little different, changing the film from a straightforward martial arts flick into a full-flown crime epic.
Ninja 2: Shadow of a Tear
Isaac Florentine’s Ninja was a fun throwback to the classic ninja movies of the 80’s like American Ninja but despite having some cool fight scenes, it failed to set the world on fire. With Shadow of a Tear, Florentine and Scott Adkins returned and blew us away with stunning fight choreography and it ended up being one of the best action movies of 2013. With Kane Kosugi in a major role and one of the best bar fight scenes in history, it’s safe to say this movie surpassed the original movie in every way.
I can’t decide if this is better than the first Blade movie, but it’s certainly way up there thanks to Guillermo del Toro’s fantastic creature design and a great performance from Luke Goss as the villainous Nomak. Wesley Snipes was born to play Blade and the ensemble cast of Donnie Yen, Ron Perlman and Kris Kristofferson makes it stand out as one of the best comic book movies to date. It has an exciting and cool-sounding score too which really adds to the atmosphere. It has some quality gore and the vampire hybrids are genuinely scary looking monsters. Sadly the film does have some poor CG which lets down a few fight scenes but it’s not enough to diminish the film’s entertainment value.
Undisputed 2 & 3
The first Undisputed movie was decent enough, starring Wesley Snipes and Ving Rhames as rival boxers in a prison who take part in fights. It was even directed by the legendary Walter Hill and yet nobody really talks about it. What we all do talk about though is Undisputed 2 & 3 which gave us one of the most iconic characters in recent action movie history: BOYKA! BOYKA! BOYKA! Scott Adkins excels as the villainous fighter who is “The Most Complete Fighter in the World!” He is the champion of the underground prison fighting circuit… that is until George Chambers (Michael Jai White) turns up and the ultimate battle begins. The fight scenes are jaw dropping and my back hurts just watching them. The script is better than what you’d maybe expect from a straight-to-DVD film and the fact that Boyka has a Facebook page with over 2 million fans shows that this is an icon who isn’t going away any time soon.
In Part 3 the tables have turned and Boyka is now our protagonist and due to the great writing, we are rooting for him all the way. The fights are even better this time around with Adkins proving he is one of the best martial arts stars in the world.
Rambo: First Blood Part II and Rambo (2008)
I think the majority of the public think than Rambo: First Blood is the best of the series but believe it or not, it’s my least favourite. It’s an amazing film and all, but Part 2 and 4 are my top Rambo movies with the character becoming an unstoppable killing machine. Part 2 is John Rambo as the one man army who simply can’t be stopped and his “Murdoch, I’m coming to get you!” scene is one of the best “F**K YEAH!” moments in cinema history. The final 20 minutes of Rambo (2008) is one of the most brutal and visceral action scenes I’ve ever seen and it sticks with you long after watching. Let’s hope with the upcoming Rambo V Stallone keeps the bodycount high.
The Purge: Anarchy
The first Purge movie always had a cool concept but ended up just being yet another home invasion movie, squandering an intriguing premise. This sequel however rectified that in pretty much every way, giving us a new badass on the block with Frank Grillo’s mysterious “Sergeant”. We get a bit of a better look at the chaos in the streets and the film also has a few jabs at the gun lobby and the “right to kill”. It has plenty of great action scenes and has me hungry for a part 3.
Mad Max 2: The Road Warrior
I’m going to come out and say it, this is the only Mad Max movie I actually liked; the first one was OK once it got going but it was pretty boring for a lot of the time. Then The Road Warrior came along and gave us one of the best car chases in cinema history. Max has more screen-time too and truly becomes the icon he was meant to be. It had memorable villains and the costumes and vehicle design were first rate too.
Die Hard with a Vengeance
Before you reach for your pitchforks, I’m not saying this is better than the original Die Hard, nothing is; it is however easily the best of the sequels with a crackling script from Jonathan Hensleigh (The Rock) and a show stopping performance from Samuel L. Jackson. His back and forth banter with McClane is the highlight of the series and Jeremy Irons’ scenery chewing villain Simon is up there with his brother Hans Gruber in terms of great bad guys. It’s hilariously funny, awesomely ridiculous and should have been where the franchise ended as the next two films failed to recapture the magic of the first trilogy. Maybe if we get a Part 6, John McClane can have his personality back and give us a sequel that can be as good as this.