Tuesday, April 15, 2014

My eyes are wide open, sir.

I love movie henchmen. Not the second-in-command guys, no. They're too important, as the actually get to speak and maybe even land a punch or two. I'm talking about the random assortment of peripheral guys. Slicked-back hair, ill-fitting-suit wearing anonymous a-holes, only capable of grunting and/or screaming. Those guys.

When given a gun, these guys are good for destroying the walls and furniture near the good-guy, but without? Well...I'm pretty sure they die. For real.

I unequivocally loved The Raid: Redemption [review]. I have routinely told anyone that will listen, it's the best action movie ever made. Easily. And I don't say black-and-white shit like that, either. When they announced that they'd be making another one, I was f--king terrified. But excited. Short of one of the actors entering the theater and stabbing me in the balls mid-screening, then kneeing me in the face, there was simply no way anything cold top the unrelenting greatness of the first one. Well, about that...

The Raid 2 is epic. There's no other way to describe it. While the first one had about ten minutes of story, this f--king monster probably has ten times that (it's 150 minutes long!). For a minute that concerned me, but anytime things got too talky, all Hell would break loose with the best fight scene I had ever witnessed. Then an even better one. Then another one. Oh, yeah...then the best one ever. People (rightfully so, I guess) jizz all over themselves at the action in the Marvel movies, but at the end of the day, it's a lot of CGI silliness compared to the intense f--king brutality in any given five minutes of The Raid 2. Sure, boundless praise like this is going to ultimately disappoint some of you, and I'll apologize right now for that. But when I see a guy kicked three-quarters out of a car window, only to scrape the top of head on the ground moments before smashing into an open car door at seventy miles an hour? I get giddy.

Ash has his boomstick. Rama has a broomstick. I'm taking Rama.
During some of the longer stretches of plot, I might have said something different, but in all honesty, you need a story. If not, you get transforming robots with testicles and me giving as few f--ks as possible. The Raid 2 picks up two hours after the events of the first flick with our main man/super cop Rama ready to bring down some low-level gangsters. Turns out, his commanding officer has bigger plans and suggests (forces?) Rama go undercover and infiltrate one of the larger criminal families around. Why settle for some small fish, you know? It's all kind of typical, until a two month assignment (in a shithole of a prison) ends up seeing Rama locked up for two years. He gets locked away so long, you assume he'd come out resenting the cops that left him in there to rot, right? Actually, there's a moment when he grills a fellow officer (um, literally), but outside of that he remains an intensely determined good guy. Though he probably kills about a hundred guys, mostly of the anonymous hench variety, which may suggest otherwise.

I don't want to discount the plot, but if you see this flick, it's not going to be the story you'll remember the next day. It's going to be that guy who got his face blown off by a shotgun. Or the sexy lady that annihilates an entire subway car full of goons wielding only hammers. Or maybe it'll be her brother and the countless savage aluminum bat beatings he dishes out. But most of all, it's going to be Rama, played by the seemingly immortal Iko Uwais.

He does well enough in the serious scenes, sure, but holy shit can this guy kick heaps of ass. Not only does he unleash Hell with pure strength and insane speed, but I'm telling you, he's also into some nasty shit. You're not just going to get kicked into a wall, nope. You're going to get kicked into the corner of a wall (a concrete wall at that). And oh, you'll get stabbed, too. Trust me. But he'll turn the knife after he does it, to make sure you bleed the f--k out. It's undoubtedly savage and grisly, but it's also compelling and oddly beautiful. Meaning? I can't wait for what's next from writer/director Gareth Evans.

But until then, we'll have to settle for the decidedly less compelling and the impossibly ugly Yays and Boos. They got the first movie off, so hopefully they'll bring it this time. Hopefully you enjoy an idiot talking about fight scenes...

  • The opening title screen is brilliant. Yeah, it's this kind of party.
  • It makes no sense...but the opening fight scene is eerily reminiscent of that classic moment in Jurassic Park. Just replace a glass of water with bathroom stall lock, and T-Rex with two dozen dirty Asian inmates and it's pretty much the same thing. Oh, and both involve someone dying on the crapper.
  • Two words: Mud battle.
  • The guy above, Hobo Machete Guy? This motherf--ker is a maniac. Even if he looks like the RZA's long-lost, unfortunately homeless, Indonesian cousin.
  • Machete Guy kicks all kinds of ass in the street, but wait till you see him tear up the dance floor. I'm pretty sure he punches this one guy in the head ten times. In two seconds.
  • Okay, Rama punches a guy as hard as he can into a concrete wall, right? Seems adequate. Oh, hold on. He's now dragging his face down that wall. (yay!)
  • There's this fantastic moment when the badass assistant Eka, has some words of wisdom in his last breath. It's a mash-up of the end of No Country with some Star Wars goodness. Basically, evil will never go away, so all we can do is wipe them out. All of them.
  • Julie Estelle, or as I will forever know her as, One-Eyed Hammer Girl. This woman is unbelievable. Oh, that movie relay wants to champion Sigourney Weaver's Ripley? Well, ol' Hammer Girl might have something to say about that. (okay, not really, but this chick is BADASS)
  • As is her brother, Baseball Bat Guy. Hitting baseballs into people's faces is arguably what my own personal heaven consists of, but asking for the balls back? Something even more magical.
  • There's a fight scene in a car. During a chase scene. Read that again. And as intense and brutal as it is, it's one of the most technically impressive things I have ever seen. Remember that highway scene from the second Matrix? This shit is better. While it may not have floating albino twins, it does have someone getting shot in the face thirty times.
  • And finally, the kitchen finale. Other than the fact that I grabbed most of my limbs and turned away from the screen with a f-----------ckkkkkkkk, I still loved every minute of the climactic battle. And trust me, there are plenty of minutes to choose from.

    • Dude, I almost got emotional during this one. It might have been the lone tender moment, but damn it if I didn't connect with Rama quietly listening to his son on the phone. I came for ripping hearts out, not touching them.
    • Yay! A sex scene. Wait, nevermind. That chick's dick is way bigger than mine.
    • Compound fractures. Good God...
    • Fresh out of jail, and you gotta strip down in front of an old man? Not cool.
    • It turns out my personal tolerance for consecutive throats slit is four. We're one over, guys.
    • Uco (Arifin Putra), the boss' impatient and ruthless son. Not only are you a gigantic murderous dick, but you really ruined that sexy karaoke jam, mate.
    • Baseball Bat Guy likes to drag his bat around. While it's cool as f--k to look at, the sound made me cringe almost as much as people who scrape the fork with their teeth. *shudder*
    • Wait, an English part? Could we have done this the whole time?
    • Henchmen. Even though I totally love it, I don't think any of these dudes are ever, ever given a gun. Awesome? Thoroughly. Fair? No f--king way.
    • And finally, the story (to a degree). Everyone in this film has a reason to kill and maim as many people as they do. That's not what concerns me. What is troubling, is we get to see and hear those reasons. For every single character.
    My wife and I were watching CBS Sunday Morning, um, on Sunday, and they had this feature on people who do stunt work. It was an interesting segment on the nameless people that make movies and TV shows infinitely more entertaining and exciting (you can check it out here). Turns out, in America at least, those guys don't really die. In the segment, they focus on a stuntman named Sam Hargrave, who just so happens to be Chris Evans stunt man in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. The stunt coordinator discusses how this four-minute sequence took them four months to plan. 

    If that math holds up, I'm pretty sure The Raid 2 started filming innnn...[calculator noises]...1974.


    1. Fucking brilliant! This post is hilarious, insightful and awesome. I haven't even seen the first one :eek:

      1. I don't know how you feel about action/martial arts flicks...but these two movies have to be right at the top. All time.

        Ask yourself, Do I like seeing people get their asses handed to them in the most brutally clear way ever put to film? If you answered anything other than a hard 'no' do yourself a favor and check out this first flick asap.

      2. Who doesn't like that?

    2. So jealous I haven't seen his yet.

    3. I still didn't even see the first one! I may do a double feature out of those soon :)

      1. As long as you can handle people actually dying on screen, I say go for it. Wherever the Hell these are filmed, they have little regard for people's safety.

        It's truly a magical place.

    4. I heard the final fight of The Raid 2 took 6 weeks of planning and 10 days of shooting. I don't know what that says about American superhero movies...

      1. Ivan (?),

        I'm not sure what it says about American superhero movies, but it seems to say that these guys can do a lot more, with a lot less.

        Regardless, that final scene is absolutely ridiculous...in the best possible way.