Now Available to Own
The Original with John Cena
“G.I. is army, moron. I'm a marine,” Joe Linwood (WWE superstar Ted DiBiase) informs his wife's boss after he not only condescendingly scolds her like a schoolgirl but also dubs our heroic lead,“G.I. Joe.”
Of course, had the boss realized that less than ten minutes later, he and Joe's wife would become two of roughly twenty hostages held by guerrilla terrorists, I have a feeling he may have been far more respectful for Joe's one-man-platoon who would become the group's only hope of getting out of there alive.
Then again, if he had been nicer, the first act of The Marine 2 would've lacked an initial villain and the petty conflict goes right along with it. Essentially the boss we loved to hate served as the movie's foreplay to the heavily Die Hard inspired slam-bang hour that followed when the real baddies arrived to "get it on." Still the "G.I. Joe" moment valiantly attempted to provide our cardboard main character the slightest hint of a personality, since, while DiBiase indeed makes a handsome and capable action star, the extraordinarily weak screenplay never endears Joe to the audience on the same level of Die Hard's John McClane.
Although we became as emotionally involved with the heartbreaking opener that Joe did during a tragic foreign assignment and appreciated his effort to avoid much needed rest and go to Thailand for his wife's work, as far as the film's script is concerned, Joe is basically the epitome of “The Few. The Proud. The Marines.”
And luckily, the ramped up action and endless distraction of explosions, gunfire, and Muay Thai fighting keep us so preoccupied that we simply slip into mindless Charles Bronson, “man out for revenge” mode where kicking ass trumps the urge to get to know our hero on anything more than a video game level.
As the straight-to-disc sequel to the original 2006 film that starred fellow wrestler turned 12 Rounds actor John Cena, The Marine 2 debuted on DVD and Blu-ray on December 29. Despite some of the uncharacteristic grain apparent during the night sequences and when light is scarce, which is rare for a Fox HD transfer, it's an overall breathtakingly photographed Blu-ray that makes the most of its Phuket, Thailand location shoot.
Trying to lend a bit more credibility to director Roel Reine's film, screenwriters Christopher Borrelli and John Chapin Morgan share in the press release and on the back of the Blu-ray box that The Marine 2 is “inspired by true events.” And while it's not apparent from the movie itself, the information from Fox indicates that 2001's horrific Philippine set Dos Palmas kidnappings may have kick-started the idea for the central plot.
Obviously there are some similarities especially considering the villainous terror group but when you take into consideration that Dos Palmas involved roughly half of a year of searching and the deployment of a thousand soldiers to fully resolve the conflict, once again, Die Hard and numerous other hostage dramas seem to have been a bigger influence on the movie as a whole.
Yet, wherever the idea came from, once viewers check out this sequel, you'll realize that it wouldn't have been necessary to try to impress us with a "fact-drop" since it easily manages to surpass the original B-movie.
Although, The Marine 2 doesn't go to an A-movie by default especially given how low the bar was set with the first Marine, as soon as the action kicks in, DiBiase's determined Joe keeps us fully engaged. Specifically, once the third generation wrestler adopts Muay Thai style martial arts during the Blu-ray's instantly bookmark-worthy Scene 16, even the toughest cynic of straight-to-disc titles will discover that their jaws have dropped open involuntarily during this brainless action movie escape.
Loaded with extra features, the Blu-ray also includes a short portrait of DiBiase, which is interesting for those like this reviewer whose WWE knowledge is nonexistent. In Building a Legacy: Ted's Story, we discover that similar to military personnel and cops, the career of wrestling runs in the family as DiBiase's father, grandfather and even grandmother took part in the sport.
Likewise, overall, Marine 2's bonus material is well-worth the scavenger hunt, particularly for the Muay Thai behind-the-scenes extras that showcase the increasingly popular fighting style and how exactly those Eastern methods were combined with Western smackdowns to create something they probably wouldn't teach you in the army... or the marines.
A guilty pleasure you shouldn't feel nearly as guilty for enjoying than the original, much weaker Marine-- while I couldn't predict if a third title is in the franchise's future, I think it's pretty safe to say that we haven't seen the last of DiBiase outside the ring.
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FTC Disclosure: Per standard professional practice, I received this title from the studio in order to evaluate for my readers. Receipt of this particular Marine had no bearing on whether or not the film received a favorable or unfavorable review, even though I'm thrilled to admit that "The Few" and "The Proud" do run in my family as well.