Wednesday, April 16, 2014
Vernal Viewing: The Raid 2
As an action movie and martial arts fan, The Raid 2 left me with conflicted feelings. Somewhere, in this 140 minute running time is a 95 minute classic. Like many films today, The Raid 2 suffers from in my opinion, being too Damme long and thinking that an extended run time will equal more gravitas. From the 2.5 hour indulgence Django Unchained, the nothing much happens Hunger Games: Catching Fire, five endings Divergent to this, there's a fine line between trying to build an epic and just plain pummeling your audience with low key fluff intended to hype the ending. The last hour is fantastic, if they could have set up the film faster then moved into the final showdown(s), I think you would have had something really special.
Writer/Director Gareth Evans and team again deliver some truly awe inspiring, jaw dropping, cringe inducing, holy shit action set pieces involving cars, fisticuffs, machetes, baseball bats, hammers and more on the streets, in a muddy prison yard, a subway car and warehouses with plenty of broken limbs, maimed bodies and bloody aftermath galore. What Evans is able to capture practically is impressive, you never feel like you're watching green screen or stunt doubles or unable to tell what's happening. Many of the hand to hand sequences are done in long takes with the action clearly discernible. While elaborate choreography is on full display, I feel a lack of simple technical physical prowess is missing. Nary a high kick is thrown but there's the tired, "front kick while leaning back and yelling" for days. While we don't live in an age where high kicking specimens Scott Adkins, Michael Jai White or Jean-Claude Van Damme can headline theatrical films, I missed their acrobatic muscular grace.
Violence in film has always been a hot topic and while it may sound hypocritical that I found one movie too violent than another, I walked away from The Raid 2 thinking, that was too much and feeling a little dirty. While Lee, Van Damme and Arnold's antics inspired me to become a better and more well rounded person. Just the changing of the seasons, I suppose.