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‘The Raid 2’ (Blu-ray review)

Sony

Let me start off by acknowledging that this is my first viewing of The Raid 2. I watched it right after I watched The Raid: Redemption.

I know that this is almost universally loved.

I know that.

I also went into this film not knowing a thing about it.

No, I did not see it when it was initially released in 2014, nor had I seen the original film The Raid: Redemption in 2011 until now.

By ALL accounts this film, along with its predecessor, should be extremely high on my list of films that I love. As many people have said to me when it came out “It was made for me.” and it really was.

It has everything I could have wanted in an action film. Insane amounts of beautifully choreographed fights, lots of well-blocked gunplay, and a whole lot of blood.

As an action junkie, I ask you, “Why was I so unimpressed, even bored with this film when I really liked the first film?”

I think it comes down to two things.

First, the relentless “shaky cam” that was present in the first film was turned up to 13 here. At best it was absolutely annoying and distracting that it kept taking me out of the film at its worst it was nigh unwatchable.

And second, I think of the old adage that my wife says all the time, and that is “Sometimes more is just more.” Meaning that more doesn’t necessarily make something better. A lot of times “more” diminishes that thing you originally found amazing and waters it down to the point that it is no longer cool or special. In fact, it becomes tedious.

I found myself looking at my phone, getting up to grab a drink or go to the bathroom (Special note: the fight scene that was happening when I left to go to the bathroom was still happening when I came back). Never a good sign when watching a “fast-paced, relentless onslaught of adrenaline-fueled action” or whatever people were saying about it.

I completely enjoyed The Raid: Redemption. It was grand.

It is a really well-thought-out, brilliantly executed action film. Absolutely enjoyed the hell out of it. However had I not seen Dredd first I would have probably loved it even more. Yes, I know the comparisons, I know the complaints that Dredd is just a rip-off of The Raid: Redemption and share basically the same plot, etc. For me, ironically all the criticism lobbed at Dredd is reversed for me because I saw Dredd first.

As I mentioned in my The Raid: Redemption review, 2012’s Dredd is a visually breathtaking masterpiece of a film that I thought was also spectacular and I am heartbroken it never got the sequel it deserves.

But I digress.

Back to The Raid 2 and more is not always better.

At nearly an hour longer than the original film, The Raid 2 clocks in at a staggering two and a half hours long. And boy did I feel every second of it. It’s like Gareth Evans was given carte blanche with this film based on the critical and audience hit that The Raid: Redemption was and that is where it went wrong. He didn’t know when to stop; that less is more. He took all the things that worked in the tightly told The Raid: Redemption and jammed it into The Raid 2.

The result is a bloated, overstuffed turkey of a film that when it was finally done I didn’t want anymore, and in fact I regretted what I was given.

There are truly phenomenal moments.

There are the beautifully choreographed and exquisitely filmed fight scenes you’d expect from a sequel. Unfortunately they truly go on way too long. The staccato brilliance of the first film’s shooting and editing gets mired in fight scenes that take too long in this one. I love that he doesn’t rely on edits to quicken the pace and he holds on to the fight choreography. He allows the blood ballet onscreen to perform for us. The only problem is that the performance dragged on too long and the magic of it is lost as a result.

Like I initially said, I know this film is lauded by critics and audiences alike even more than the original. People are going to love it. People are going to say I am crazy and that I don’t know what I am talking about. I have been watching Asian action cinema and American shoot ’em ups since I was a kid. From Bruce Lee to Jackie Chan to Tony Jaa, to Jet Li, and everyone in between and in the periphery.

All I am saying is that I am old.

This one wasn’t for me. Maybe I have hit that age. Who knows. Maybe I’ll give it another shot in a year or so and get back to you as to how it goes.

‘Till then, Keep watching movies.

 

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