If you want to talk about a movie that's a black hole for careers,
let's talk about Best of the Best 2. Director Robert Radler wound up
working on Power Rangers episodes, Eric Roberts usually appears in
magazines making jealous comments about his much more successful
sister, and Philip Rhee...well, the less said about Best of the Best 3
and 4, the better. Ralf Moeller, the chief bad guy, usually winds up
playing the big sidekick, most visibly in Gladiator. Ironically, he's
probably made out better than anyone else involved, save for the
invincible Wayne Newton.
Judged by the standards of its genre, the movie isn't entirely
terrible. Judging action movies on the same scale as more respectable
fare is like expecting your 59 cent hamburger to taste like steak, and
Best of the Best 2 is better than a lot of comparable movies I've seen.
The fight scenes are refreshingly high-impact and plentiful, Newton is
as deliciously slimy as Richard Dawson in The Running Man, and Moeller
makes for a formidable bad guy in the ring. In these respects and
others, this movie compares well with better-known movies like
Bloodsport or the terrible Kickboxer.
The bad parts are definitely bad, however. The script, as is usual for
the genre, consists of the standard tough-guy posturing, but is not
even particularly clever at that. Roberts looks like he's being
directed to think about his paycheck whenever he's supposed to act
happy. Rhee (the real star) does a good job in the ring, but his
transformation from calm martial artist to brutal vengeance artist is
not really played at all. The bad guys, other than Moeller and to some
extent Newton, are completely devoid of menace. The worst part of all -
and one of the most cringe-inducing scenes I've ever witnessed - is the
first scene with James, where a pathetic drunk's tragic fall is played
for laughs. This scene will and should offend almost anyone who
On the ugly side, the movie's production design definitely reflects its
budget. Best of the Best 2 looks and sounds at least 10 years older
than it actually is. In style, form, and substance, it's well behind
the curve. Some of the violence is really painful to watch, namely two
close-ups of Rhee breaking limbs in hapkido arm locks. This is a cheap
shot, but Roberts' girlfriend looks like she's about 70. All told, it
is not a study in economy. Shot for about the same budget as a Star
Trek: The Next Generation 2-part episode, this movie looks way worse.
Is it completely terrible? Well, don't be looking for The Godfather. If
some cheesy fighting is your bag, however, you're looking at the right
movie. Recommended for genre diehards and 12-year-olds, but not really
for anyone else.