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Saturday, January 17, 2015

Movie Talk - The Raid: Redemption and The Raid 2: Berandal

He may look short, but Mad Dog will tear you up and spit you out.

Today, I’ll be talking about a couple of martial arts movies that have been critically acclaimed.  They don’t come from China but from the land of Indonesia. In 2012, The Raid: Redemption was released. It was an Indonesian film directed by Gareth Evans. To say this movie did fine is an understatement. The movie was met with positive reviews when it was released. It did so well it even spawned a sequel which was released last year. Even Hollywood wants to remake the film using American actors, so that should tell you that the movie might be good.

I heard about how the first movie was really similar to 2012’s Dredd, so I rented it. By the way, their plots are similar, but the movies are different enough. I’m guessing it was a coincidence since they were released in the same year. I will say that I was interested in how a sequel would pan out. When The Raid 2: Berandal was released in theatres last year, I tried to see it. Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to and just decided to rent it. I remember enough about them to give an opinion. I even watched them undubbed which is something I’ve been doing with most foreign movies. With that said, let’s hit it.

The Raid: Redemption
In the movie, our hero and his Indonesian SWAT team is ordered to secretly raid a drug lord’s apartment complex. Tama, the drug lord, finds out about it and basically sets the whole complex against the team. It’s a bloody, grueling fight to the top. Our main hero and his team have to survive the many denizens of the complex and get the drug lord.

I liked this movie when I first saw it. While the story is pretty basic, it is a good one. It’s an action movie through and through. You kind of don’t know who from the team is going to make it. You don’t even know if Rama, our main hero, will make it. I thought Rama was okay as the main character. There’s a lot more going on in the story than just a raid which makes the story more interesting. I also liked the drug lord even though he really didn’t do much. The standout character for me (at least action-wise) was the drug lord’s enforcer, Mad Dog. Man, he was mixing it up!
Ouch. That's got to hurt.

The main attraction for the movie is the action. In my opinion, it’s all well done. The choreography is really good. The fights are really brutal. Folk are getting knocked into all sorts of crap and it looks like it hurts. It’s also quite bloody. There’s a scene where Mad Dog… well, let’s just say he had some problems with his neck towards the end. All of the fights in the movie are good and make the movie a kicking romp from beginning to end.

Are there any problems with the movie? I don’t have many, but I do have a major one. I’m not a big fan of really gory stuff. There are times where I can handle it and times where I can’t look at the screen. The violence did get a little unsettling at times. Mad Dog’s neck issues are just one unsettling scene. Other than that, I think this movie’s good. The story may be simple, but it’s decent. The action here makes this a movie to watch.

The Raid 2: Berandal
The next movie actually takes place a couple of hours after the end of the first one. Rama ends up being assigned under some task force that’s supposed to root out corruption in the police department. He goes deep undercover and spends two years in prison. He befriends Uco, the son of a notorious kingpin, after saving him. When he’s released from prison, he’s employed by the kingpin and serves as Uco’s bodyguard. Things heat up when Uco tries to start a gang war with another notorious gangster. Rama does all he can in order to bring them all to justice.
Hmm... they must be listening to some Miley Cyrus. That can make anyone hurt.

This was another good one in my opinion. Instead of being a straight-up action movie, it’s a crime drama sprinkled with high-octane, bloody action. The story may not be original, but it is a good one. It kept me interested until the end. It also built off things that were established in the first movie. I liked the hero in this. He had a lot to handle with being undercover and what not. I was interested in how his story played out.

I especially liked the villains here. Unlike the drug lord from the first movie, these villains had more of a reach and were more powerful. While most of them were just evil, some like Uco and his father had some interesting depth to them. I also thought Uco was a cool main villain. I also noticed that he looked a little like the late Brandon Lee. The henchmen were also pretty cool. There aren’t many movies where we see a girl in shades kill folk with twin hammers.
... yeah, I got nothing. 

Of course, this movie wouldn’t be complete without the action. The fight scenes and action scenes were really awesome. They were on par with the first movie and were probably better as well. We even get a pretty cool car chase/fight scene. While the last fight went a little long, it was still really good. The fights in the prison, the car chase scene, and the final fights are my favorite fights from the movie.

There are a couple of things that I’m not a fan of. Once again, there is the gore to consider. A lot of it is still unsettling and I think this one is gorier than the last movie.  There were some scenes I couldn’t look at. The runtime is also a little longer than usual. The total runtime is 148 minutes. While it does keep you interested, that’s pretty long even for most action movies. There was some stuff that could have been cut down a bit. Other than these things, the movie is still good and is a must-see.

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In the end, these are a couple of good action movies. I recommend them with one reservation: if you’re not a fan of really gory stuff, you may want to stay away from them… or at least see an edited version if one exists. I don’t know what the next sequel will bring, but I know it’ll be something good. As for the Hollywood remake, I don’t get it. The first movie has only been out for less than five years and Hollywood thinks it can do better. I’m not going to say that Hollywood is out of ideas, but I will say that Hollywood can be stupid most of the time. Well, I have to finish watching this one movie and I will finally be able to talk about some guy name Tony Jaa. Peace and God Bless.


NEXT TIME: ONG-BAK!

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