Crocodile Dundee II: A Totally Underrated Sequel?

While the common consensus is that Crocodile Dundee II is a less-than-worthy sequel, we totally disagree with that assessment.

When a movie is as big as Crocodile Dundee, you better believe there will be a sequel. Audiences renting a VHS tape of the movie back in 1987 had a little introduction before the film, teasing the fact that a sequel was in the works, something all of us kids who grew up on this movie were psyched by. 

So when the first one came out, Paul Hogan became a massive international star. He was already big in Australia, but before Crocodile Dundee, Hogan was mostly known for his ‘Shrimp on the Barbie’ Australian Tourism adverts. By 1987, he was so popular that he was one of the three hosts of the 1987 Academy Awards, opposite Goldie Hawn and Chevy Chase. Crocodile Dundee II would be a much bigger film than its predecessor. After all, this wasn’t a tiny Australian indie anymore. It was a big studio film, with Paramount Pictures, who distributed the first film, bankrolling it for $14 million. This was many times higher than the original film but relatively cheap for an American movie. 

The first movie was famous for being a fish out of water tale, so they reversed the formula for Crocodile Dundee 2, putting the fish back into the water. As such, it falls into a different genre than the first movie, which was essentially a romantic comedy with nods to action adventure. This one would be an all-out action movie, albeit done lightly. 

As the movie stars, Mick Dundee happily lives in New York with Sue Charlton. He’s adjusted to living in the big city and seems popular, with even the cops giving him an “oh Mick” when they catch him fishing with dynamite in the Hudson River. All is going pretty well until Sue’s ex-husband, an investigative journalist, is killed on assignment by a Pablo Escobar-style drug lord. It turns out that he caught the baron, Luis Rico, killing a man on camera and sent the film to Sue before getting killed. She’s snatched up by Rico’s henchmen and held for ransom, with them wanting the film. 

When Mick tries to exchange the film, Rico’s henchmen try to kill him, only for him to foil the attempt thanks to some helpful Japanese tourists who think he’s Clint Eastwood (they notoriously looked a lot alike). He rescues Sue from the fortified mansion with the help of a streetwise buddy, Leroy (played by the great Charles S. Dutton), and a local street gang. But Rico and his men get away and swear to kill both Mick and Sue. So, what are they going to do? They head back to Walkabout Creek in Australia to get help from his old mates, the Aboriginals, and lead the drug lord on a wild goose chase through the Outback.

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So while the first Crocodile Dundee movie featured Mick and his Aboriginal friends having quasi-mystical powers, the sequel doubles down, with them able to virtually vanish into thin air. We get a little more background on Mick this time, revealing that the Aboriginals raised him and that his family owns much of the Outback but that he’s always refused to consider it his property because he respects its original inhabitants and their rights to the land. 

The film winds up becoming more of an action film, the most significant departure from the first movie being that humour takes a backseat. So much so that it was a sticking point for some fans and critics, but the film has a nice vibe, with Dundee as fun to watch in his element as out of it. The film has more than a few classic moments, albeit none entirely on par with “You call that a knife?” One is when he uses his knife on a mohawk, and another is when he takes a dive off his apartment’s balcony with a rope and crashes into an office with a charming “g’day.” The musical score is similar to the first film and effective in an action-driven setting. Also, keep your eyes peeled for early roles from people like Stephen Root, Luis Guzman, and even Colin Quinn of SNL fame.

While people may think back on this being a less successful sequel, that’s only true critically. It was a massive blockbuster, making $109 million domestically, meaning it was the sixth highest-grossing movie of the year. It infamously opened opposite Rambo III and grossed twice as much on a $14 million budget. That said, it was still over $70 million shy of what the first movie made. Worldwide, this made close to $240 million, but that was about $90 million short of the first movie’s gross.

Nevertheless, Hogan ended 1988 as a major star, but it wasn’t to last. In 1990, he made another movie with Paramount called Almost an Angel, which only made about $6 million, essentially ending his career in the States. Within a few years, he’d be playing third fiddle with Elijah Wood and a dolphin in the Flipper movie. He’d try to resurrect Mick with Crocodile Dundee in Los Angeles, but the series had run its course and only made $40 million worldwide. Tom Green took issue even with that figure, telling the media that kids bought tickets to Crocodile Dundee and snuck in to see his movie, Freddy Got Fingered, which was hard-R, instead. After that, Hogan stuck mainly to Australian films, although he did do the Curb Your Enthusiasm-style satire, The Very Excellent Mr. Dundee (which I interviewed him for), and was the center of a hoax revolving around a Super Bowl commercial that made it look like Danny McBride was playing Mick’s now grown son in a sequel. The commercial had cameos from almost every big Australian movie star except Mel Gibson, but it was all a joke.

While Crocodile Dundee’s run as a franchise was short, it can’t be denied that the first movie is a classic, and hey, part two is pretty damn good too!