Friday, April 18, 2014

The Raid 2

Get out your hammers and baseball bats, we're reviewing The Raid 2!

After the events of The Raid, Rama (Iko Uwais) goes undercover to take down more corrupt cops, and bring Bejo (Alex Abbad) who killed his brother, to justice. But things get complicated when he becomes a bodyguard to Ucok (Arifin Putra), the son of one of the three mob bosses.

Holy crap, is this thing action packed! This has enough action for two movies! I’m talking a lot of intense, crazy, just barely over-the-top action; people getting hit in the face with hammers, one man armies going up against a literal army of guys, a gigantic muddy prison-yard battle with one guy ripping another guy’s jaw open, tons of crazy stuff. It's – well, it’s almost too much. You know that scene at the end of the movie where the hero is so completely drained from the ordeal he just went through that he can barely stand? That's how I feel about this movie. It's exhausting. Mostly in a good way.

See, it's not bad action or even generic action. It's supremely well-done! It has the same level of crazy, hyper-intense action that we saw in its predecessor, The Raid. Some of the fight scenes should be studied intensely for their fight choreography and cinematography. It's amazing how they make nearly every fight seem entertaining and exhilarating to watch. Some have upwards of 20 guys in them! And I love how the camera will whip around and follow the actors as they tumble through broken windows. It's a real work of art, like an expertly crafted ballet. The problem is that there's just SO much of it. 

The first movie was great because it had very little story, a pretty simple premise, and the remaining 90% or so was full-on, wall-to-wall action. That was it. A straight-forward action movie. Here, it's extended into a more usual fighting-movie with rival gangs, hits on people, double crossers, and the like. The story starts off and seems to be about Rama infiltrating the organization and trying to bring it down from the inside. Except then there's all this stuff in the middle about rival gangs, family business, and backstabs and there's a good hour where Rama isn't doing anything. There's a whole mini-story there with this old expert assassin that takes a good twenty minutes of the movie that, while a good action-packed story in and of itself, could have been taken out and the movie wouldn’t have suffered for it. It's a long movie, and it can get confusing when things aren't explained clearly. All these fights are good, but you could have cut out a good chunk of the movie, made that into a sequel, and kept the rest for a much leaner beast.

There was one cool woman martial artists in this. On the one hand, it's a step up from The Raid's zero female martial artists, but on the other, this is a movie with literally a hundred fighting dudes. All other women in this are secretaries, dancers, or hookers, and barely get any speaking parts. You think maaaaybe you could find a couple of other female martial artists? I mean the one lady you have is pretty awesome and her fight scenes are badass, but seriously? One hundred dudes. Maybe two hundred. They couldn’t even work out some female grunts or police officers? 

Before we stall too long on Critique Street - the action is really good. Super intense, blood everywhere. I feel like the previous entry tended to cut away just as they were getting to the gory stuff, but this one has tons of slit throats and blown-off faces. It's mostly hand-to-hand battles, but there are also shootouts and car-chases. It's a bloody intense movie. If you like that stuff, it's great. It's not wall-to-wall action like its predecessor. There's a lot more story here and it feels like a long movie. And I enjoyed watching it, but I also feel you could cut this up into 6 or 7 parts and it would make a pretty great TV show or web drama. The cinematography is really well done, even in the non-face-punching parts. 

In short: lots of action (almost too much) and a confusing story, but really good action. 

THE GOOD: Great action, bloody and intense, tons of action, great cinematography, so much action. Did I mention action? There's a lot of action.

THE BAD: Confusing story, almost too much action, pretty gory in spots, needs more female martial artists.

THE VERDICT: $$$$ Really great action movie! Go see it. Maybe watch something light afterwards like an indie movie or a romantic comedy. So much action, you guys.

MOVIES LIKE IT: The Raid, The Departed, The Town, 21 Jumpstreet, Only God Forgives

ONE-SCENE METAPHOR: The first major fight scene involves Rama fighting 15 guys in a small prison bathroom stall. It's intense and really well-shot.

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