At its most basic form, getting lost in the movies is one of greatest escapes we have. For 90 minutes to 2 hours, you become a part of the story that is unfolding before you while locking yourself away to experience the journey of a central protagonist and the struggles that they find themselves trying to overcome. Whether your preferred genre is action, comedy or romance, movies are an avenue to a realm outside of our own.
If a franchise is fortunate, it will capture a large enough audience and generate enough revenue to bring about a sequel. Sometimes a sequel is worth it but most times it’s not and is just an opportunity for studios to cash in further on the success of an original film. A majority of the time sequels tend to take place a few years later or after a specified period of time following the events of the previous film.
However they’re some that continue the story at the exact moment where the prior film ended. These movies are few and far between but tend to encompass a wider, stronger narrative that requires us to pick up the action at the exact moment that it previously ended.
The following is a list of 10 sequels that pick up right where their predecessors left off.
10. The Karate Kid II
Any child of the 80s knows of the classic hit movie the Karate Kid in which a young Daniel LaRusso is a new student at a local high school after moving in with his mother. The apartment handyman Kesuke Miyagi befriends Daniel and teaches him about karate because of a kid named Johnny who is bullying Daniel at school. The film shows the progression of Daniel under the tutelage of Miyagi and culminates in a tournament where Daniel must face off against Johnny in the final round. Daniel wins the tournament and the once aggravating school bully gives him the trophy ushering in a new friendship between the two.
The Karate Kid II picks up in the parking lot of the tournament where John Kreese, Johnny’s teacher, is furious over the fact that he didn’t win the tournament and finished second. As Kreese gets more aggressive with Johnny and puts him into a headlock when Miyagi comes to save the day by helping Johnny and humiliating Kreese by plucking him in the nose.
The strangest part about this scene: the movie then jumps six months into the future, virtually making the interaction all but irrelevant other than establishing some continuity between the two films. The events eventually transition to Okinawa where a bulk of the story takes place. Although the opening scene of the movie is a nice nod to the original, it really doesn’t serve any purpose for the narrative of the sequel, as both Johnny and his teacher never make an appearance again.
9. The Thing (2011)
Sometimes rather than doing a direct sequel to a movie, filmmakers feel it’s more important to tell a story leading up to the events of the original. This was the case with John Carpenter’s 1982 classic The Thing. The original film starts off with a scene in which a Norwegian helicopter and research crew are chasing a dog across the Antarctic tundra. The crew eventually chases the dog to an American research base when the crew accidentally blow themselves up after dropping a thermite explosive. The American researchers then take the dog in and put it with a group of their own. They then journey to the Norwegian base to see if they can discover what happened and why they were trying to kill the poor animal when to their surprise they discover it deserted and abandoned.
The 2011 adaptation of The Thing tells the story of what happened at that base and how everything started. Although a far cry from the original, the 2011 prequel does a good job at presenting the discovery of the alien itself and the spacecraft it used to get here. The film follows paleontologist Kate Lloyd as she examines the remains that have been discovered when all hell breaks loose and fans eventually get a repeat of the original.
The film ends how the original starts with what’s left of the Norwegian team tracking the dog containing what’s left of the alien DNA that they discovered. What hurts the film the most is that it fills in some of the mystery that made the original so interesting. Sometimes the best stories revolve around elements that are left as a mystery. As fans we know what happens to the Norwegian team so why spend the 90-minutes explaining it?
8. Mortal Kombat: Annihilation
Mortal Kombat was one of those video games that a lot of young kids growing up in the 90s most likely should not have been playing. With its brutal fighting and grisly fatalities, this was a game that had truly taken a gigantic step forward in the violence department in arcades around the world and SAGA systems in our homes. Enter the Mortal Kombat movie in 1995. Mortal Kombat was one of the first video-game to movie leaps and proved to pay off big time bringing in a box office total estimated at $122-million.
With the success of the first movie, it was a no brainer to create a sequel and in 1997 fans got the far less superior Mortal Kombat: Annihilation. The events of Annihilation pick up immediately after the tournament ends with the death of Shang Tsung in the first film. As our heroes Johnny Cage, Sonya Blade and Liu Kang are seen celebrating with Raiden, Emperor Shao Kahn, the ruler of Outworld, appears in the sky declaring he has come for everyone’s soul. It isn’t long into Annihilation that fans realize instantly everything they’ve accomplished in the first movie was for nothing as Johnny Cage is quickly killed off with Raiden eventually following him shortly after.
To many young fans of the franchise, Mortal Kombat: Annihilation was amazing but it’s easy to see that it was really made on the cheap in hopes to bank further on the success of the first film. With a budget of $30-million, Annihilation was able to make a profit but it was only at a fraction of its predecessor’s success.
7. Halloween II
There’s no greater Hollywood horror success story than the original Halloween. The movie and the way it was made is a story that should be told to all film majors in every classroom across the globe as it shows the rewards that a studio can reap when it takes a chance on a concept. It also doesn’t hurt that with a meager budget of only $325,000 in 1978 and only a 4-week shoot time, the film grossed over $70-million dollars at the box office. To this day, Halloween is one of the greatest cult classic films of its genre.
In the closing scenes of the original, Michael Myers, the demonic killer with the classic mask, is shot multiply times by Dr. Loomis, his psychiatrist, before falling out of a window onto the front lawn of a house that main character Laurie Strode was trapped in. At films end, it is revealed that Myers has disappeared and apparently survived from the wounds he sustained from Dr. Loomis. Jump ahead to Halloween II where the story kicks off with Laurie at the hospital getting treatment after the events of her horrifying night and Dr. Loomis searching the town for Michael. At the same time, Myers learns about the location of Laurie and heads to the hospital to finish the job from earlier in the evening.
If the two films are put together, it’s one hell of a night for poor Laurie Strode as the second film delves deeper into her past as well. Halloween II didn’t come out until 1981, 3-years after the original, and with a larger budget than the original, it still managed to cash in on the fear that the first movie brought to the table.
6. Rocky II
As a Philadelphia native, there’s no better underdog story that we love more than that of Rocky Balboa. Ask any tourist that comes to the city what they want to see; it’s almost always the steps that Rocky ran up at the Philadelphia Art Museum. Sure there are the Liberty Bell and Independence Hall but they pale in comparison to the iconic steps that everyone’s favorite boxer used to train.
Rocky is the story of a man with little hope and little chance of defeating the World Heavyweight Champion Apollo Creed. In the first film Rocky is given the opportunity of a lifetime at a shot for the title and the two go the distance round for round. In the end, Creed wins by a split decision to retain his title and the movie ends not with Rocky winning the title but losing. After beating the living hell out of one another, both Rocky and Apollo are taken to the same hospital where Apollo eventually challenges Rocky to a re-match after not beating him cleanly with a knockout punch.
The second film tells the story of Rocky’s success after his fight with Creed and capturing the fire to once again go toe to toe with the champion. The film eventually leads up the re-match between the two where does Rocky finally beat Apollo and becomes the champion. The two films are done so well that they really should be viewed as a whole collectively piece.
5. Resident Evil: Apocalypse
Even though the events of Resident Evil: Retribution take place immediately after Afterlife, we’re going to flashback to when the film series was still “good” and carried at least a little bit of credibility before it just became a juggernaut for generating revenue. Somehow these films just keep pulling in the cash and just keep coming movie after movie. Perhaps the fact that the Resident Evil films are so different from the video games is what makes it such a global success.
At the end of the original film after the survivors escape from the Hive, a secret underground laboratory, they are quickly overcome by a band of Umbrella scientists who capture and incapacitate the main character Alice and fellow survivor Matt. Matt is ushered away for the Nemesis project, a catchy phrase from the video game while Alice is rendered unconscious. Eventually she wakes up to witness the apparent zombie apocalypse that has overwhelmed Raccoon City and the film ends.
The events of Resident Evil: Apocalypse open up almost immediately where the events of the first film ended minus a short prologue explaining how the viral outbreak got to the surface from the Hive laboratory. As each film would be released they’d drift further and further into the obscure and crazy. But for the sake of the first two films, it made for an entertaining ride and contributed two solid video game adapted films.
4. The Bourne Ultimatum
The American version of James Bond: Jason Bourne. The Bourne trilogy is a high-octane spy thriller from the original works of Robert Ludlum. If you’ve had the opportunity to ever read the book trilogy, it doesn’t take long to realize that the novel and film adaptions are significantly different from one another. The franchise has recently tried to re-boot itself with the Bourne Legacy starring Jeremy Renner. Renner’s character is not a recasting of Jason Bourne but is of a parallel story in which Damon’s character is referenced in the film.
When viewed in sequence, it’s a little bit confusing as the second film, the Bourne Supremacy, ends with Jason Bourne peering down the scope of a sniper rifle in New York City at Deputy Director Pamela Landy of the CIA. Prior to the final scene of the movie, Bourne was last seen in Moscow taking part in one of the film franchises more popular car chases.
Jump ahead to the Bourne Ultimatum and the opening scene takes the viewer back to Moscow right after the events of the car chase showing how Bourne got away as the police perused him. What about that final scene in New York from Supremacy? Turns out that scene actually took place after a whole succession of other events and paints Landy in a whole new light. It’s a bit confusing because of the jumbling of scenes that takes place between the two movies but does a nice job of establishing the final act of Ultimatum.
3. Quantum of Solace
One of best franchises to every come across the silver screen is that of James Bond. Originally created on the pages of the masterful Ian Fleming, James Bond has been a part of our culture for over 60-years. With the exception of the opening sequence in the film Diamonds Are Forever in 1971, there has never been a true James Bond sequel or continuity connection until Quantum of Solace.
At the end of Casino Royale, Bond is obsessed with trying to learn about the organization that was responsible for the death of his love interest Vesper. He tracks down a man named Mr. White after wounding him in the leg when the film ends with Bond catching his man. Quantum of Solace picks up exactly where Casino Royale ends with a wounded Mr. White in the back of James Bond’s trunk as he’s seen speeding through the countryside. Bond is continuing his mission from the first film in trying to uncover whatever information he can about the organization known as Quantum.
It what first appeared to be a genius idea in regards to connecting the two movies would ultimately turn out to be extremely chaotic. The film would be a victim of the writer’s strike that was taking place at the time of production, thus making it nearly impossible to live up the success of Casino Royale. Although it’s the weakest of the three Daniel Craig Bond films, it does hold up the test of time in the series as a whole.
2. The Alien Franchise
If we think of the concept of sleep and how hours can feel like figuratively blinking our eyes, why not use the same concept in regards to the Alien franchise? The Alien franchise does the “monster in the house” concept better than any film franchise. This concept revolves around a character trapped within the confines of a given space with no means of escape while a monster or villain is hunting them.
When taken in sequence, Alien ends with the main character Ellen Ripley being the sole survivor on a large spaceship after one of it’s crew brings a parasite aboard which gestates into a horrific alien that gets loose. Ripley is able to escape on the ships lifeboat and goes into a type of hyper sleep or stasis for 57 years.
The series second film Aliens picks up immediately after with a salvage crew discovering Ripley’s lifeboat and rescuing her. Ripley would eventually find herself in the same mess all over again but by the end of the second film she would once again crawl back into a hyper sleep chamber. The opening scene of Alien 3 has Ripley marooned on a prison planet after a fire breaks out on board the ship she was in stasis on jettisons her pod. The entire Alien trilogy is basically just one big sequence of bad dreams for Ripley. Bring into the fold the fourth film, Alien Resurrection in which Ripley comes back as an alien clone, and the nightmare never ends for her.
1. Back To The Future Franchise
The Back to the Future franchise is fantastic in the fact that when viewed in its entirety, it’s one big movie with plot points from the original spanning all the way to the third installment. Whether or not the makers of Back to the Future knew they’d be continuing plot points into a third film or not is up for debate.
The events of Back to the Future: Part II kick off immediately after the events of the first film with Doc Brown returning in his newly revamped DeLorean that now operates on much safer products such as trash and garbage rather than nuclear power. With the events of the first film resolved, Doc Brown informs Marty and Jennifer that they must now journey to the future in order to correct problems with their children. The film eventually transitions back to the events of the first film after Marty purchases a sports almanac that is stolen and taken back to 1955 throwing the space-time continuum into flux. Those wrongs are corrected, as both Marty and Doc Brown must avoid their doubles from the first film.
The third film starts basically where the first film ended with 1955 Doc Brown sending Marty back to 1985 when the Marty from second film shows up for help in getting to the year 1885. It’s all very frantic on paper but if you’re a fan of the franchise, the story is an ingeniously interwoven story that has every installment being as solid as the original.
Well there you have – Ten movies in which their sequels start off almost immediately after their predecessors. We know we didn’t hit them all so leave your comments below on some the ones we missed!
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