Best of the Best Two
1993 Directed by Robert Radler. Starring Eric Roberts, Phillip Rhee, Christopher Penn, Ralph Moeller, Meg Foster, Wayne Newton.
REVIEWED By Pamela Bruce, Fri., March 12, 1993
The really big question here is, does anyone remember Radler's 1989 film Best of the Best? Chances are that no one does -- or cares -- to recall that creative dud which made yet another over-cooked turkey out of the Rocky formula about the U.S. Karate Team competing in a do-or-die international match. This time around -- in a narrative filled with unintentional humor and more holes than Charles Keating's tax returns -- three of the stars from Best 1 (Roberts, Rhee and Penn) are reunited as the former champs from the U.S. Karate Team who have -- for some unexplained reason -- relocated to Las Vegas to open a martial arts school for kids. Meanwhile, Mr. Viva Las Vegas himself, Wayne Newton, stars as a sleazy manager of a disco called the Stock Exchange on the Vegas strip which also houses a no-holds-barred testosterone pit known as the Coliseum where challengers -- for a prize of actually assuming ownership of this place -- are routinely and irreversibly pummeled into ground chuck by well-oiled, bo-hunky gladiators, and a Nazi-esque, Arnold Schwarzenegger/Dolph Lundgren wannabe, Brackus (Moeller), before drooling, bloodthirsty crowds in tuxedos and evening gowns. Of course, this challenge is too good to pass up for Penn's character who predictably ends up as Alpo. Roberts' and Rhee's characters try to avenge the murder of their teammate, only to further infuriate Brackus who, for another unexplained reason, manages to track them down at the out-in-the-middle-of-nowhere home of Rhee's Native American grandmother (just how Rhee's character -- an Asian -- manages to have a Native American grandmother is another big, big hole in the narrative). Along the way, trendy Native American spiritualism is co-opted by the good guys, Roberts and Rhee, in order to help overcome the bad guys, Brackus and his gang, and Roberts (who, as far as martial arts heroes go, looks almost as scrawny as his kid sister Julia) manages to find time for a one-minute love affair with the poorly-used Foster. There are plenty of guts but no warm fuzzy feeling of glory by the conclusion of Best of the Best 2. As a sequel to its predecessor, it only manages to be the best of the worst.