Posted in: by Robert Horton, Contributors, Film Reviews

Film Review: ‘The Raid 2’

Julie Estelle in ‘The Raid 2’

When The Raid 2 bowed at Sundance earlier this year, it triggered an instant-analysis debate along a narrow spectrum. Was it the greatest action movie ever made, or merely the most violent? Considering the film’s target audience, that’s a win/win argument. Gareth Evans’ sequel to his culty 2011 The Raid: Redemption, which was set primarily within a Jakarta high-rise, considerably widens the canvas this time out. Returning hero Rama (Iko Uwais) has survived that adventure only to be tapped for an undercover operation as unlikely as it is brutal. He’s spent two years in jail earning the trust of an Indonesian gangster’s son (Arifin Putra), the better to infiltrate the gang when he gets out. The aim is to gain information about police corruption and smash the syndicate, but Evans seems less interested in the intricacies of storytelling than he is in devising one flabbergasting action sequence after another.

This he does, with utter confidence, for two and one-half hours. This is far too long by ordinary standards, but not too long if you a) have an appetite for unbridled mayhem, or b) curiosity about the spectacle of a director playing can-you-top-this with himself.

Continue reading at Seattle Weekly

Posted in: Blu-ray, by Sean Axmaker, Contributors, DVD, Film Reviews

Blu-ray / DVD: ‘The Raid: Redemption’ – Extreme Action with a Brutal Edge

The Raid: Redemption (Sony) – Set almost entirely in an apartment building in the slums of Jakarta, this extreme action film from Indonesia already has a reputation as one of the fiercest, most brutal crime thrillers around.

It’s a well-earned reputation.

Directed by Gareth Huw Evans, a Brit (actually Welsh) in Asia, and starring martial arts professionals in the lead roles, this is a meeting of Western and Eastern action cinema, a savage portrait of cops and crooks in a culture of criminal Darwinism built on a ruthlessly simple plot and a fiercely stripped-down style.

A strike force is sent in to an apartment building populated by criminals and protected by the kind of arrogant underworld kingpin that populate such movies. When the cops enter, the kingpin offers a reward to any inhabitant who takes out the intruders. The body count is epic. The action is assaulting. Survival in this film is as much a matter of endurance as skill: these guys take beating after beating and get back up for the next round.  You may wince so hard that you end up with sympathy bruises.

The Raid: Redemption has the choreography of the grittiest gangster thrillers from the Hong Kong action heyday of the nineties and the whiplash moves of Sammo Hung (in his prime) and Tony Jaa, but it ups the ante on the brutality and culture of corruption. Stars Iko Uwais (our upstanding hero, who has a pregnant wife at home but won’t give up on his comrades), Joe Taslim (the stalwart team leader), and Yayan Ruhian (the berserker building enforcer, appropriately named Mad Dog) are all martial arts professionals and serve as fight choreographers on the film, giving it an impressive variety of moves.

Continue reading at Videodrone