Ah, Thailand. Home of LadyBoys, the Bangkok Chess Club, and the beautiful islands of the Andaman Sea. It was from these lush tropical locales that Francisco Scaramanga once tried to take over the world. Fortunately, James Bond was there to stop him. Since then, many other madmen have set their sights on domination, both locally and globally. Most of these loons happen to be filmmakers, who are keen to take advantage of the country’s exotic settings and in-general inexpensiveness by making modestly budgeted direct-to-video motion pictures.
One such flick is The Marine 2, a film produced by the prestigious WWE Studios. In case you are unaware of the existence of WWE Studios (and may the gods bless you if you are), it’s a splinter group of the famous World Wrestling Entertainment company (formerly the World Wrestling Federation, or WWF) — an organization that has been lowering IQs across the civilized world for decades now. The purpose of the WWE is simple: to showcase the absolute finest talent that there is in the field of big, dumb, beefy, sweaty guys who wrestle one another.
WWE’s testosterone-fueled tentacles first began their campaign of world domination via movies in 2002, when they co-produced The Rock’s The Scorpion King with Universal Studios. Since then, they’ve cranked out one seemingly similar film after another. All of these films have featured a popular (or rising) wrestling star in the lead role, and all of them assumed a chokehold on unsuspecting patrons who thought they were paying to see a real movie instead. Somehow, one of their solo-produced entries, 2006’s The Marine starring John Cena, managed to make it into theaters. I think it my have even made a dollar or two in the long run. And so, late 2009 marked the direct-to-video debut of The Marine 2.
Set in Thailand, The Marine 2 stars Ted DiBiase, a guy that almost kinda-sorta looks like current James Bond performer Daniel Craig if you squint your eyes really hard and tilt your head to the side quite a bit (the similarity to Craig ends there, though — DiBiase is no more a professional actor than Daniel Craig is a professional wrestler). The story here is pretty basic (not to mention boring): while on vacation with his workaholic wife Robin (Australian actress Lara Cox), American Marine Joe Linwood (DiBiase) winds up doing the one-man Die Hard routine when a group of Thai Therrorists (led by Temuera Morrison) take everyone else hostage at a posh resort.
As cheap and predictable as they come, The Marine 2 offers little in the way of entertainment — for people who do not eagerly sit in front of the tube awaiting the latest edition of Monday Night Raw, that is. The action scenes range from fairly decent to “Oh my, you guys didn’t rehearse, did you?” The professional actors (e.g. Morrison, Cox, and co-star Michael Rooker) appear to have put more effort into enjoying the sights of Phuket Island more than in their performances. Ted DiBiase, on the other hand, turns in a pretty wooden performance, and is easily the weakest human link in the whole picture.
But I will give Ted a little credit: he certainly looks like he’s trying in some scenes. He even looks the part in others. I imagine that if he ditched the whole Pro-Wrestling bit and hired himself a damn fine acting coach, he’d probably make for a presentable action star.
Failing that, he can always apply to be a stuntman for Daniel Craig.
On Blu-ray, The Marine 2 receives a transfer akin to its own production: modest. Fox Home Entertainment presents the movie in a 1080p/MPEG-4 AVC transfer, with a 1.85:1 ratio. The daytime portions of the film excel in terms of colors, contrast, and saturation (and are quite breathtaking at times). The nighttime sequences falter, however — and there are heavy instances of grain and fuzz that will distract any HD aficionado in the house. A DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 soundtrack accompanies the film, and brings out all of the ker-pows and bang-bangs admirably. And, as one would expect of a WWE film, there are a lot of ker-pows and bang-bangs to be heard here. Other than that, though, the soundtrack is passable at best. The 50GB disc also houses three Dolby Digital 5.1 soundtracks in Spanish, French, and Portuguese, and subtitles are provided in English (SDH), Spanish, French, Portuguese, Mandarin, Cantonese, and Thai.
The special features found with The Marine 2 are just as uninteresting as the film, and will probably only appeal to a select few (you know who you are). These extras include twenty-five minutes worth of behind-the-scenes featurettes (which put me to sleep), including interviews with star Ted DiBiase and director Roel Reine. Next up are several deleted and extended scenes (you mean they cut stuff out of this?), and a handful of uncut footage from the film’s Muy Thai fight scene (I must’ve fallen asleep through the film, too, as I don’t recall that part). Lastly, there’s a pointless montage of unused portions of the film. As to why they didn’t just return the unused portions for a full refund is beyond me, but it’s there nevertheless.
In short: The Marine 2 is another forgettable direct-to-video action flick — which means it’s perfect late night USA TV fodder (immediately after WWE: SmackDown). But hey, at least the cast and crew got a free vacation to Thailand out of it!