REVIEW: No Retreat, No Surrender II – Raging Thunder (1987)

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1987, Seasonal Film Corporation

Director:
Corey Yuen
Producer:
Roy Horan
Writers:
Keith W. Strandberg
Roy Horan
Maria Elena Cellino
Cinematography:
Nicholas von Sternberg
Ma Kam-Cheung
Editing:
Allan Poon
Kevin Sewelson

Cast:
Loren Avedon (Scott Wylde)
Max Thayer (Mac Jarvis)
Cynthia Rothrock (Terry)
Matthias Hues (Yuri, the Russian)
Patra Wanthivanond (Sulin Nguyen)
Hwang Jung-Lee (Ty)
Nirut Sirichanya (Colonel Tol Nol)
Perm Hongsakul (Nguyen Young-Kim)
Roy Horan (American Consular)

With the success of the 1985 U.S.-Hong Kong crossover film that launched Jean-Claude Van Damme, both Van Damme and Kurt McKinney were to come back for a sequel. However, when both dropped their contracts to go on to bigger things. Ng See-Yuen as in a rut. That is until Ng, with the help of Roy Horan, casted two replacements, tae kwon do expert Loren Avedon and German powerhouse athlete Matthias Hues, for this sequel, which can be described as a martial arts-esque Rambo or Missing in Action.

Scott Wylde is an American martial artist who has arrived to Bangkok, Thailand to visit two people. One is his fiancee, Sulin Nguyen and the other is his former martial arts teacher and best friend Mac Jarvis. When Sulin is kidnapped by Vietnamese military refugees who are avenging a betrayal by Sulin’s father, Scott and Mac team up to rescue her in Cambodia. They find an unexpected ally in Terry, a helicopter pilot whose martial arts skills are top notch, yet she has a grudge against Mac, who is her ex-boyfriend.

The villains come in the form of the militaristic Yuri, a Soviet warlord who lets his fists do the talking. His number one man is Ty, a Vietnamese general whose martial arts prowess is excellent. In one short but memorable scene, a kidnapped Terry takes on Ty in order to get to Yuri. At first, Ty’s kicks gets the best of Terry, but then she unleashes her fury. Yuri grabs Terry by the neck and throws her.

Keith W. Strandberg, who wrote the original screenplay, was apparently upset by rewrites from Roy Horan and Maria Elena Cellino. Nevertheless, a highlight in the film in terms of plot is the love-hate relationship between Terry and Mac. During the course of the film, these two bicker like a married couple and the reason behind their problems. As Mac puts it, “She’s pissed because I won’t jump her bones” and Terry’s response, “He’s threatened because I used to break his.” The bickering brings at times a comic relief to the otherwise seriousness of the overall film.

In terms of the action, Corey Yuen once again comes up with some intricate martial arts fights that make the cast look great. Avedon, Rothrock, and Hwang showcase their amazing martial arts skills while Thayer is doubled. Matthias Hues had no martial arts training prior to the production of the film, but under the training of Corey Yuen and his team, Hues did actually very well. Hues would go on to star in many martial arts films afterwards, from Kickboxer 2: The Road Back (1990) to Fists of Iron (1995).

Some of the highlighted action sequences include Scott taking on three of the kidnappers in his hotel, Scott and Mac taking on more kidnappers at a local restaurant, and a mind blowing fight that pits Terry, Scott, and Mac against a group of rogue Buddhist monks. With the help of Mang Hoi, “Hollywood” Lam, and Lee King-Chu, the martial arts action is very well choreographed with virtually no undercranking as well as plenty of bullets flying and explosives. After all, this does have a military theme to the story.

As much as the return of McKinney and Van Damme would have upped the ante on this sequel, surprisingly, Loren Avedon and Matthias Hues make for some pretty good replacements and once again, Corey Yuen does an excellent job on this action-packed sequel.

The U.S. cut, released in 1989 by Shapiro Glickenhaus Entertainment, cuts approximately seven minutes, including the opening montage of Vietnamese refugees being executed, a scene with a pimp trying to get Scott to pay for a hooker, and the love scene between Scott and Sulin.

If you can find it and you’re in the mood for both martial arts action and some powerful military warfare, then check out No Retreat, No Surrender II: Raging Thunder.

WFG RATING: B

DVD (Region 2)

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