Escape Plan 2: Hades Blu Ray Review (Lionsgate)
Escape Plan 2: Hades is a 2018 action film directed by Steven C. Miller (Silent Night, First Kill, Arsenal, Marauders, & Extraction). It’s a follow up to 2013’s Escape Plan. It was first announced in October 2016. The production on this was finished in 20 days. Arnold Schwarzenegger was rumored to reprise his role but unfortunately that didn’t happen. Sylvester Stallone & Curtis “50 Cent” Jackson were the only returning cast members from the original film. UFC Welterweight Champion Tyron Woodley & NFL running back Devonta Freeman have cameos in the feature. Chinese film production company Leomus Pictures was a co-financer for the film with Grindstone Entertainment Group, Lionsgate, & Emmett/Furla/Oasis Films. It had a total of 36 different producers on the project. It was distributed by Summit Entertainment. It’s already been announced that Escape Plan 3 is being developed right now & it will be made!!!
Ray Breslin (played by: Sylvester Stallone from Escape Plan, Rocky franchise, Rambo franchise, Tango & Cash, & Cop Land) is forced to fire new team member Jaspar Kimbral (played by: Wes Chatham from Barbershop TV Series, The Town That Dreaded Sundown, The Hunger Games: Mockingjay – Part 1/2, & The Expanse) after a botched job. Hush (played by: 50 Cent from Escape Plan, Get Rich or Die Tryin’, Power, & Righteous Kill) jokes that Ray expanded too quick after seeing what happened. Shu Ren (played by: Xiaoming Huang from Legend of the Dragon, The Sniper, Ip Man 2, & League of Gods) is told he needs to be more of team player & he decides to help out his cousin Yusheng Ma (played by: Chen Tang from Let’s Be Cops & Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.) who’s dealing with a serious problem. It all goes wrong & he ends up in Hades, one of the worst prisons in the entire world! Zookeeper Gregor Faust (played by: Titus Welliver from Bosch, Deadwood, Sons of Anarchy, & The Town) tells Shu exactly why he’s there & what he wants from him. Ray gathers up his team which includes Abigail Ross (played by: Jaime King from Sin City 1/2, My Bloody Valentine, Mother’s Day, & Silent Night), Luke Walken (played by: Jesse Metcalfe from Dead Rising: Watchtower / Endgame, Loaded, Beyond a Reasonable Doubt, & The Tortured), & Hush to break into the prison to help their friend escape. Shu runs into his old teammate Jaspar at Hades. After investigating some details about the recent event, Ray decides to visit a old friend Trent Derosa (played by: Dave Bautista from Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 1/2, Avengers: Infinity War, Blade Runner 2049, & Riddick) for help. Luke tries to step up & take lead for once but ends up missing like his friend. He wakes up in Hades just like Shu did so now Ray’s team must rescue him also from the dangerous prison. Which person or company is out for revenge for Ray & his crew? Can they escape this fortress? or Have they finally met their match with this living hell?
This is definitely the best looking film from director Steven C. Miller. You might know him for all of his Bruce Willis direct to video features. It has a nice visual style to it & cinematography really elevates the atmosphere in this. The set pieces look pretty damn good for the money they had to work with this. I am guessing Stallone took a nice chunk of that to reprise his role. The first film had almost triple the budget than this follow up. It’s full of action, fight scenes, & suspense so it’s a very entertaining production. The original had a real solid cast & one of the only ones to come back was 50 Cent? That’s unfortunate because he’s not really that talented when it comes to acting but he definitely picks & produces some good projects to work on. That’s one of the biggest flaws with Escape Plan 2. The casting & actors were decent but nothing special. Also, I have to bring it up & warn you because the cover for this is little misleading. Sylvester Stallone is not the lead character in this. He’s only in a supporting role but he’s in it more what I heard before viewing this so that’s good. Xiaoming Huang was the main subject in Hades. I don’t think he was ready or good enough to carry a whole film like this. Honestly, I think it has alot to do with Leomus Pictures financing this project so it looks like they had a little more control than what you would think. It seems more aimed at international fans compared to America. Dave Bautista has a gloried cameo for this but he’s awesome in his small role. He signed on for the 3rd film in the trilogy so hopefully next time his character gets more screen time. I had lots of fun with this & it was better than expected despite it’s few problems. Recommended for Sylvester Stallone, direct to video action, & escape film fans!!!!
Let’s talk about the high definition presentation for this blu ray release from Lionsgate. This 1080p (2.40:1) transfer shines especially for being a direct to video production. The cinematography by DP Brandon Cox (The Collector & Mockingbird) is very stylish & looks really good. The colors really pop out & the prison location really stands out during it’s scenes. The English Dolby Digital Audio track amps up & adds to all action in this. It’s a nice companion to the visuals & intense moments featured in the film. It also includes English, English SDH, & Spanish subtitles.
Let’s discuss the special features on this disc. It has various Lionsgate trailers before the film starts. “Making Escape Plan 2: Hades” is almost 10 minutes. It has interviews with director Steven C. Miller, actors Wes Chatham, Xiaoming Huang, Jaime King, Jesse Metcalfe, Dave Bautista, & various crew members. Miller talks about his Ridley Scott influence on this project. He says this is a much different approach than the original film. They chat about the cast. They bring up working with Stallone. Miller says he’s one of the best actors he’s worked with. Bautista said he was a fanboy when working with him. Huang mentions he was the first American actor that he seen a film from theaters when he was younger. They also show appreciation for DP Brandon Cox. “Creating the Look of Escape Plan 2: Hades” is a little over 3 minutes. It has interviews with director Steven C. Miller, DP Brandon Cox, & Production Designer Niko Vilaivongs. They talk about the different look compared to the first film. They bring up being inspired by Blade Runner. Niko had personal inspiration when designing this production. “Building the Robot of Escape Plan 2: Hades” is 4 minutes. They said the robot wasn’t in the original script. It has interviews with various crew members. They talk about what motivated to make this. They mention they wanted to make a real robot & not do CGI. It goes behind the scenes & shows the work was done for the character in this. “Cast & Crew Interviews” is almost 54 minutes. It features extended interviews with director Steven C. Miller, actors Wes Chatham, Xiaoming Huang, Jaime King, Jesse Metcalfe, Dave Bautista, & DP Brandon Cox. It covers some of the same material as the other extras on here but it goes into much greater detail compared to those. Plus it adds a decent amount that wasn’t brought up on those. If you are looking to learn about this production & film then you will really enjoy this one. Lionsgate provided some real solid supplements for this Escape Plan 2: Hades release. It’s available everywhere this Friday!