On a well-deserved vacation to an exotic resort, Marine sergeant Joe Linwood and his wife Robin are attending a VIP party when disaster strikes. Ruthless terrorists crash the event and claim a number of hostages - including Robin! Alone in a foreign country with no backup, Linwood must rely on his Marine training to single-handedly strike back at the terrorists, save the hostages and prevent international war!
Ask yourself this question- do you want a straightforward action flick with little surprises, backed by a lead actor who is in every fight scene that appears in the movie? If your answer is yes, then you may just want to consider the latest direct to home video product from WWE Studios, “The Marine 2”. An in-name only sequel to what is to date their most successful theatrical release, it has Ted DiBiase Jr filling in the role originally played by John Cena (“12 Rounds”).
Here’s how straightforward the plot gets- a marine, on leave from duty, spends his vacation at an exotic new resort where his wife works and unexpectedly gets thrown back into action when locals take hostage all the guests at the resort in their claim of war against the ‘jihadists’. Of course, cynics may well nitpick at how the film’s not-so-subtle subtext resembles the war-toting rhetoric characteristic of the former Bush administration, especially with its reference to how there are always terrorists threatening the ways of the Western world.
But put aside that gripe and what you have is our one-man hero Joe Linwood (DiBiase) taking on a group of highly-armed, well-trained terrorists that are as one-dimensional as Hollywood screen villains get. The pleasure really in such a movie is watching our hero take down the bad guys, and in this regard, DiBiase more than does the job. Indeed, WWE’s greatest asset lay in its ready pool of athletes just waiting to take the leap to become action stars, though maybe much less so as Hollywood actors.
With this distinct advantage, DiBiase is in every scene of the film, punching, kicking, blowing things up, getting bruised, beaten and tortured. Yes, there’s no denying hard DiBiase works hard for the film’s action sequences, so you know that every grimace on his face is very likely real. As a bonus, DiBiase is actually more expressive than the perpetually stony Cera, so his scenes with Lara Cox (who stars as his wife) are much more convincing than any of Cera’s with his wife in the former.
Based and filmed in Thailand, “The Marine 2” also boasts pretty nifty action choreography, courtesy of Seng Kawee, the stunt coordinator who also worked on Tony Jaa’s “Ong Bak” and “Tom Yum Goong”. One particularly impressive sequence with DiBiase is a Muay Thai-styled fight between him and two other villains, aided by director Roel Reine’s circling camera to capture the fight in its entirety within one uninterrupted shot.
Like in his previous films, Reine is both director and cinematographer and that dual capacity gives him much creativity to engineer many of the impressively shot long-take sequences in “The Marine 2”. Yes, such are the little joys of watching a film that demands little than for you to turn off your brain and enjoy a simple and undemanding action movie that serves up enough adrenaline shots to keep you engaged throughout. Oh, there’s of course DiBiase, who if continues to brush up his acting, could very well be this generation’s Van Damme or Lundgren.
Muay Thai Fight Outtakes- There are 5 steadicam takes and 4 handheld takes of the Muay Thai fight that reveals the one-two tap fluidity of the action choreography.
SPECIAL FEATURES :
Extended Scenes- There are a total of 4 extended scenes here, though none of them are of the action scenes in the movie (i.e. there’s a reason why they were shortened in the movie). If you’re still interested, there’s one when Joe and his wife first arrive at the hotel, another with them checking out a scuba shack, another just before the siege at the hotel and the last with a terrorist planting some bombs.
Deleted Scenes- Just two here- one with Joe and his wife at the party before the siege and the other with them checking out their hotel room- that are superfluous to the movie.
Making the Cut- Deleted Shots Montage- As director Roel Reine makes clear in his brief intro before the montage, these are not deleted scenes but rather deleted shots that were left out but nevertheless still look beautiful and valuable enough to be included in this feature.
Behind the Scenes Featurettes- There are six behind the scenes featurettes. “Village Virtuoso: The Final Fight” gives an interesting background to the shooting of the climactic fight scene, and reaffirms that DiBiase and Temuera Morrison (who plays head baddie) actually did the stunts themselves. “The Last Resort: Inside the Terrorists’ Siege” reveals the hands-on approach Roel Reine took to directing the movie, including having a model built of the entire resort so he could pore over the shots. “East Meets West: Muay Thai Fight” gives context to the fight scene mentioned in my earlier review where DiBiase goes head to head with two Muay Thai fighters. The authenticity of it will leave you impressed. “Production Paradise: Filming in Thailand” is a tribute to the beautiful location the movie was shot. “Building a Legacy: Ted’s Story” is a brief look at the wrestler/star’s rise to fame. And finally “Play by the Roels: Inside the Production” is particularly interesting for how Roel Reine actually played music befitting the scene to get the cast into the mood.
The Dolby Digital 5.1 is very strong on bass and complements the impressive sound design of the film that makes full use of every gunshot and explosion for surround effect. Visual transfer is excellent, with every shot looking sharp and clear. Colours are especially rich, rendering the beautiful Thai locale even more breathtaking that should give it a good tourism boost.
by Gabriel Chong
Posted on 30 January 2010