New To Blu: The Raid 2

The Raid 2 comes home to blu-ray today. Read our review of the film.

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10 of the Best
of 2014 (so far)
When was the last time you saw a superfluous crime epic that left your jaw gaping on the floor as bones shattered and arteries were severed right before your eyes? I bet its been a while. Well, Gareth Evans is here to give you a shocking surprise with a part two that nearly tops the original. 

Unlike most sequels, The Raid 2 is a reinvention of sorts that brings the long missing, tension loaded, crime saga genre back to the screen. It's a total departure from the first Raid movie, with a dense story line, fully realized villains, and just enough action to satiate your thirst for more ass kicking and blood. This is not a clone of the original, but more so a tale of an inherent gangland power struggle that eventually leads to all out hand to hand combat and some of the best fight choreography we've seen in years. The Raid 2 is an unabashed visual feast with dynamic pacing and some of the best scoring of 2014 so far .

Evans has a distinct eye for creating stunning visuals and ground breaking action based cinema that pulls you in with strong character development and over the top blood splattering battles. In an effort to not recreate the exact same movie again, The Raid 2 is much more focused on a congruent plot that holds off on most of the major action scenes until the final quarter of the movie. Some may have a hard time swallowing that pill. But, The Raid 2 is a completely different animal that drags main character Rama through hell and back, upping the ante, while he does battle with highly trained foes with extremely sharp weapons. On top of the perfectly blended story, the cinematography is stellar.  

"Beware bum with a blade!"
Most sequels end up floundering under the weight of a highly respected original property. Luckily for fans like myself, The Raid 2 feels brand new and just as refreshing as the first. It would be easy to understand minor complaints about the long buildup and not as much action this time, but when it finally hits that stride, The Raid 2 is almost better than the original. Gareth Evans respects his audience and offers up one of the best sequels ever made as he stays true to his own vision with a movie not only based on martial arts but one that serves as one of the best foreign crime dramas/action pieces to hit U.S. theaters in years. 

Gareth Evans' The Raid 2: Berandal is pure cinematic adrenaline, white hot and dangerous to the touch.  Of the modern Asian gangster epic, it's as fully realized and fleshed out as The Godfather while surpassing the fever pitch action intensity of John Woo's Hard BoiledTo say it exceeds it's predecessor, The Raid: Redemption is an understatement.  In fact, Redemption looks like a dress rehearsal by comparison.  Picking up where the first film leaves off, the film depicts Rama (Iko Uwais), a SWAT team member and hero of Redemption furthering his efforts to overturn the police corruption within his unit.  I was familiar with Gareth Evans after seeing his collaboration with fellow Indonesian provocateur Timo Tjahjanto for their mutual segment Safe Haven for the anthology horror film V/H/S 2, and that short segment of sheer, fever pitch intensity helped elevate V/H/S 2 as a respectable successor to it's predecessor.  To imagine something more intense than Safe Haven seemed unthinkable at the time, but The Raid 2 managed to succeed both Redemption and Safe Haven in terms of creating an afterglow one feels riding a terrifying roller coaster through an armada of fireworks.  Though I'm mostly using hyperbole to describe The Raid 2, there really hasn't been a pure, unfettered action thriller this exciting and jaw dropping in well over a decade! **

-Chris George
- ** Andrew Kotwicki