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Marina Antunes [Celluloid 04.01.14] Indonesia action

Around these parts we were very excited about Gareth Evan's The Raid (review), a movie that more than delivered on the promise of awesome action, so it was a no brainer that the sequel, one that has been toted by nearly everyone who has seen it as an even greater achievement, was going to be high on the to-see list.

The Raid 2: Berandal picks up a mere few hours after the conclusion of the first movie. Rama is recruited into a secretive arm of the police and charged with infiltrating a gang and digging up recon on dirty cops. He performs his job ridiculously well and after a two year stint in prison, he pretty much guarantees himself a job as a bodyguard/minder for the son of one of Jakarta's controlling forces. Over the next two hours, The Raid 2 unfolds in typical organized crime fashion: an ungrateful son plots with an enemy to overthrow his father and take over control of the syndicate. It's a pretty bare bones story with just enough emotional pull to keep the audience interested but let's be honest, no one's here for story. It's all about the action and oh boy, there's action.

Lots of it.

The Raid 2 follows a formula of 5 minutes of talking followed by 15 of non stop action. Most of the time Rama is in the middle of things but once in a while, someone else gets a shot, the highlights being baseball dude (who feels like an homage to The Warriors but without the makeup) and two hammer girl (undoubtedly a nod at Oldboy - up the ante!). But as cool as these scenes are, hammer girl on a train is by far the highpoint, it's all about Rama and how many guys he can take down single handed. For the record, that number is: a lot. More than I could count and defeinitely enough to keep the guys at Movie Body Counts busy for a few weeks.

The final sequence sees Rama at the centre of what feels like a thirty minute long sequence that involves a car chase, a hallway battle, and a kitchen faceoff before finally arriving at the real target and having to face off against a couple of more guys. It's ridiculous and hugely entertaining to watch but man, it's also really exhausting.

I didn't believe in too much of a good thing but The Raid 2 has certainly made me reconsider. It's not only possible - Evans' movie is proof of it. I hate to knock a movie that is so gleefully aware of what it is and sets out to fulfill that promise and then delivers like gangbusters but the truth is that after 90 minutes, the action sequences start to blur together. It's not like they look bad, one thing (among many; other highlights are the excellent score and the gorgeous cinematography) that Evans and his team has mastered is the choreography, editing and delivery of a stupendously awesome fight sequence that doesn't rely on heavy cutting to generate tension. There are a number of unforgettable sequences in The Raid 2 but after a while, the bone crunching, face frying and brutal killing gets repetitive and frankly, a little boring. This is particularly true in the second act which crawls along despite the action sequences though thankfully, the payoff, that half hour final sequence, rebounds nicely to end the movie on a high note.

The Raid 2 is the Godfather of action movies, the measure by which all action movies are measured from now until eternity - or at least until Evans returns with The Raid 3 to blow our minds into oblivion. I'm not sure even Evans can top this but if he's willing to try, I'm more than willing to watch; even if it numbs and reduces me into a pile of goo. Or maybe because of it. Either way, I'm in.

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