The Raid 2
As an enthusiast of the "single guy runs into a building and wreaks havoc on all his foes" genre, I was very happy to see that The Raid 2 actually came to theaters out in suburbia. Apparently, so was a 70-year-old married couple, because they were also in the theater and didn't even leave at the first sign of a guy's leg twisting the wrong direction. I hope when I'm that old I'll still be into stuff like this.
The Raid 2 is about the same cop from The Raid Redemption, only this time, he's not merely asked to abandon his wife for the love of his job and run into a building and demolish everybody... He's asked to abandon his family for the love of his job and run into a prison to form an undercover alias to infiltrate the Indonesian mob and THEN run into a building and demolish everybody.
Sadly, the film ends up getting kind of bloated. With a 2 and 1/2 hour run time, all my dreams of 150 minutes of non-stop fighting could never be granted, and I really didn't expect them to. But the problem with the overlong story in this film is that it kind of becomes unnecessary by about 2/3rds of the way through it. It's not a brilliant crime saga with multiple, complex story lines intersecting and culminating in some cleverly edited way. He goes to prison to gain street cred, he infiltrates the mob, then he eventually punches some sense into the mob (though, to be fair, it's more of a flying, spinning uppercut while simultaneously breaking another guy's neck with his legs than it is regular punches). The story is sort of like a much more watered down Infernal Affairs (or The Departed if that makes you feel better [pushes nerd glasses up] [scowls out the window at passersby]). I could have left the theater and played the crane games in the lobby during half of the story-developing scenes and probably still understood the overall plot of the film just fine.
But if there's one thing I absolutely love about the martial arts genre more than any other genre, it's that these guys are constantly trying to one-up the competition with new cool things to do. At the very least, the one thing I expect to see when I go to a wide(ish) release martial arts film is to observe a fight that, after I watch it, will become the *new* best movie fight I've ever seen. If they can't deliver just one unbelievably amazing fight out of all their fights, then I'll be super disappointed. The Raid 2 indeed supplied a fight (that freaking intense one in the kitchen) that made me just drop my jaw and love the fact that I'm into these kinds of movies. So it met the one mandatory requirement for me to consider it worthwhile.
I saw this movie last weekend, but have been way too busy to write a review until now, and I can vividly remember all of the awesome fight scenes, and then only cloudily remember everything else. Definitely has too much bloat. But then again, most of these overseas action movies do, so it's expected. I liked Raid Redemption better because it was a more raw, consistent set of action. That movie truly felt like one long-ass epic fight. Raid 2 seemed like a sub-par crime story that also happened to have top-notch punching and kicking. The greatness of the fighting and the averageness of the story make it simmer somewhere around "above-average," I suppose. My only hope is that The Raid 3 will inevitably be about Officer Rama entering an Alabama Wal-Mart on Black Friday and beating up 600 dumb yokels by himself until he has a showdown with Store Manager Ong-Bak.
8 out of 10