More often than not the first film in a series is usually the best. There are some notable exceptions: The Godfather Part II, The Road Warrior, The Dark Knight and The Empire Strikes Back to name just a few. But I want to give a shout out to a bunch of sequels that I dont think get enough credit.
Danny Glover. Gary Busey. Bill Paxton. Need I go on? Oh, ok then. You get some classic action tropes in this one: over the top racial stereotypes, huge piles of cocaine, loads of violence, an old aged pensioner using bad language, obligatory booby shot and f-bombs going off all over the place . I honestly think I've seen this as many times as the original. I love all the practical and optical effects in this, so much more enjoyable than the weightlessness we get with cgi most of the time. I particularly love the Predator jumping down in to water in the darkened alley to confront King Willy and the way we see him materialize in the puddle.
Die Hard 2
Usually when people rank this Die Hard sequel it never gets higher than third place, and even though Die Hard With A Vengeance is great, I have a real soft spot for this movie. I like the feel of the passing of time with this movie. It is totally believable that it is 12 months since Nakatomi, John has a bit of fame because of that and he and Holly are now a happy couple. It feels very natural. The action is really well directed and it's really not noticeable that this was Renny Harlin's big action movie debut. A few of my favourite sequences are the fight in the baggage conveyor room, the snow ski chase and the sequence with McClaine trapped in the plane cockpit.
Beverly Hills Cop 2
Even thinking about the opening of this movie gives me goosebumps. Paramount stars skim across the water, the music builds, jewel heist and bang! Eddie Murphy and a Ferrari. This movie couldn't be anymore 80's if it tried. A Jerry Bruckheimer/Don Simpson produced, Tony Scott directed and starring Eddie Murphy at the height of his powers, action comedy. More comedic than its predecessor and definitely more stylized but that's what you get with a Tony Scott movie. Brigitte Nielsen makes a memorable villain and it just hits all the sweet spots for me. I love it.
Beneath The Planet Of The Apes
I like this movie because it's mental. Straight from the off it's crazier than the original with Charlton Heston vanishing into thin air and although we get a bit of a retread with a crashed spaceship and a wandering astronaut being captured and escaping it really takes a turn when he heads for the Forbidden Zone. All the apocalyptic ravaged subway sets are great (I miss matte painted backgrounds) and then we meet the mutants who wear human masks with telepathic abilities who have been communicating with our lead character who happen to be worshipping a nuclear bomb. Like I said, mental.
Gremlins 2: The New Batch
Similar to Beneath The Planet of the Apes, I love this movie because it's mental. I still have vivid memories of going to see it at the cinema and it blowing me away with how crazy it was. Where the original was genuinely scary (well for me anyway), this was intended by director Joe Dante to play more like a cartoon and it does just that. All the different types of Gremlins were so cool: electric, spider, bat, vegetable, talk show host. Throw in Christopher Lee, a Hulk Hogan cameo and Slayer's Angel of Death on the soundtrack and you can't go wrong.
For A Few Dollars More
Although not a sequel in story terms, it's the second entry in what became the Dollars/Man With No Name Trilogy so I'm throwing it in here. Not as raw as A Fistful Of Dollars and not as epic (at least in running time) as both The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and Once Upon A Time In The West, this is the most accessible of Sergio Leone's Westerns. The addition of Lee Van Cleef to the team, that carries over from Fistful, is a masterstroke and his character of Colonel Mortimer has to be one of the coolest in any western. Just check out his scene with Clint's hat. Throw in another stunning climax orchestrated brilliantly by both Leone and Ennio Morricone and you have one of my favourite Westerns ever.
Quantum Of Solace
You didn't really expect an article without some sort of Bond reference did you? Quantum is for me the only true sequel in the franchise. It begins minutes after the end of Casino Royale and starts with one of my favourite car chases ever. There is a rooftop chase that ends with Bond and the bad guy hanging upside down on ropes that's super cool. All the action throughout this movie is solid and well done even if it suffers a bit from overly kinetic super fast editing that was all the rage at the time. We also have a criminally underrated Bond girl who is also on her own revenge mission and doesn't succumb to Bonds charms. It also offers a perfect conclusion to the Vesper Lynd storyline.
These are just a handful of my personal favourites, I'd love to hear what yours are in the comments section.