Saturday, April 12, 2014

The Raid 2

I've heard the term "video game" get thrown around when describing this movie, but there hasn't been that many games coming out that pulls stuff like this off so well.

Seriously! Get your crap together Video Games!

The first movie, The Raid(with the title of The Raid: Redemption, to which I still have no idea why they decided to add "Redemption" to an already well titled movie), is a movie that I feel is nothing short of a master-piece. A brutally intense action film that literally does not pull any punches in how violent and creative it can get in how they can find ways in punching people ...and kicking people...and stabbing people...and door-framing people. It was definitely a film that was made to just see a bunch of people go at it on each other and give each other fatal wounds in the most stylistic ways possible, but the movie had just enough story in it to work. There's a building with a bunch of violent drug lords in it, a SWAT team decides to raid the particular building only to find out that they were being expected and all but a few are left to survive in the ways of the Silat fighting style. It was very minimalistic in its story telling, but it had just enough characterization for it to make the audience side with the good guys and hope the few who survive make it out alive.

So, with this sequel coming out, I was more than a little stoked. A follow up to one of the best action movies to have come out in...ever? Yeah! Sign me up! Well, the movie is finally out and, yes, it's really, really good. If there was any reason that I didn't leave the theater with quite the same effect that was given to me with its predecessor, it's probably because the first movie came out when I was of a more impressionable age and I had no idea what to expect. Here, I was expecting to be just as blown away as I was by the first movie, something that I secretly expect pretty much every action movie to do, though I especially expected it here since it carries "The Raid" title. But the movie really just turns out to be just as good as the first one not by just being more of the same(like a lot of sequels might just lazily pull off), but by being a really, really good action film.

The story follows the main character from the last movie, Rama, only a couple of hours after the last movie. The events of the last movie teased that there were going to be more bad-guys to have to take care of and that's what they follow up on with this movie. These cops want Rama to go undercover to pin down these bad guys only for him to get caught up in a gang that's falling apart because of an over-his-head son who enacts Murphy's Law that eventually screws a lot of guys over. This is an over-simplification of the plot as there is a lot that goes on all at once and it can get pretty confusing at times. This was in an attempt to have the movie be more story-focused. It all definitely works, it can just be a little hard to follow as I was constantly second-guessing myself on character intentions from just about every scene(I feel like I need to see it again before I can talk about the story in detail).

However, just like with the first movie, the driving conflict is always there for the action scenes to, not just be fun to watch, but also be engaging. There are a lot of great scenes that build up to what promises to provide an intense action scene and to deliver exactly that. And it's great that the action scenes themselves are so well directed. Being an action movie that bases itself around martial arts skills, it's great that nobody decides to go the easy route by using the shaky cam as a crutch and more as a tool. All of the shots are taken so you know which guy is which, who is doing what, and which limb is getting brutally beaten by which tool. But all of these scenes also carry a sense of urgency. The camera follows all of its fights as if some guy was trying to get as close as he could to the action without getting beaten up himself, giving a sort of "you are there" feeling. There are so many things that happen in this movie that really make it feel as if all of these fights are done through quick thinking and instinct rather than something that was obviously choreographed.

I will say that the action scenes in this movie don't seem to be quite as good as the first one, at least, for the most part. A big thing that the first movie had going for was that it just thrived on one professional fighter against another one, providing some unique fight scenes that felt like a competition in skill. Most of the fights in this movie involve one of the main characters fighting off a bunch of nobody henchmen who all get taken down in just a couple of strikes. Sure, there were a lot of fights like that in the first movie, but it was interwoven with a couple of fights that was there to raise the stakes whenever they had one skilled fighter up against another one. In the second movie, all of the fights like that happen towards the end.

The kind of characters they do use for those kind of fights feel like they've been taken out of the most colorful James Bond movies where each character has their own quirk and weapons. There's a guy with a baseball bat that can strike baseballs with precise aiming, a girl that dual wields hammers, and a master martial artists with curved blades. Only being a couple of steps away from being actual super-villains gives this movie quite a creative curve over even the most out there superhero movies. And, to top it all off, there's a great car chase scene that's just an all timer.

There is really just no better way to put this. If punching and kicking is your thing, this is quite the movie to watch, much like the first one. It provides some of the most brutal action scenes for your average violent action movie fan and then some more. If it sounds like there isn't much more to this movie than just the action, well, that is kind of the case. But when it's done this well and the fight scenes are that good, it really is more than just your run of the mill action movie. This really is just one hell of a movie!