30 June 2014

Fight Your Guts Out


If you were to slice open my veins, I swear to God I'd bleed out cheese. When my Mum left, I suddenly lost a shit-load of weight and for the first time in my life I was actually skinny. Not because I wasn't eating by the way, but because suddenly I was responsible for whatever shit I wanted to stuff into my greedy face. As it turns out, I pretty exclusively love meat, bread and not much else. It took me a few months to realise that I'd accidentally put myself on the Atkins Diet and was probably one spoonful of mayo away from a full cardiac arrest. In a brief attempt to remain alive, I therefore decided to go for a jog which to my surprise started off quite well. In fact it was so easy that for a split second I thought that I might actually be a runner and it'd just taken me this long to try it and realise. It didn't last... by the second minute, I was basically just dragging myself along the pavement unable to breathe and using what little energy I had left to try and resist the urge to puke out my fucking lungs. Oh, and none of that is counting the time I went so long without eating fruit that my lips started to fall off and I became the first non-pirate ever to possibly catch scurvy. To reiterate, I might not be fat but I am not a fit or healthy person.
With all of this in mind, and simply on a sheer physical level, I'm sure you can understand the degree of appreciation and awe that I have for the stars of The Raid 2: Berandal. The film is a direct sequel to The Raid which, as provable by the science in my head, is the greatest fucking action film ever made. This sequel takes place only a few hours after the conclusion of its predecessor but tells a much more epic tale of corruption, betrayal and kicks to the face. This time ‘round, Rama -our hero from part one- is forced to go undercover with the mob after being given the task of digging out corrupt members of the police force. Erm, beyond that, if I'm going to be honest, I'm going to have to watch the thing again because it didn't half get complicated. I just about followed it at the time but it's been a whole day since watching and already my contemporary gnat-sized attention-span has caused most of the details to fade. I think The Raid had about five words spoken throughout the whole film and at least four of those were, “Ow! My bastarding nose”. This however is a full on fucking chatter-fest with more plot related dialogue shat out in the first minute than the last film had in its entirety.

"You've got red on you..."
However, that's not to say that there isn't still a shit load of action here because as the indulgent opening to this blog might suggest, I couldn't believe what I was seeing. People get lodged on speeding car bonnets, leap from stupidly high heights and somehow fight faster than I can think of crude words which, believe it or not, is pretty cunt-spunkingly fast. In all honesty, I'd say there's probably about as much action here as there was in the first film it's just that this then packs an extra hour of story and talking around it too. The result therefore is a complex film that breaks up the blabbering with huge action scenes and random outbursts of head-exploding violence to make sure you're paying attention. It's also amazing to think that not only are there these amazing stunts happening but then there's also the fighting. There's fist fights, knife fights, hammer fights, baseball bat fights and in one trampy looking guys case... bum fights. However not only do these people have to have the level of dedication and skill to remember the moves but they've also got to perform them so believably that it looks like they've made contact with their opponent when they actually haven't. I know that sounds obvious, but fuck you because this shit is impressive. Of course camera angles and sound effects can help that kind of thing a little but considering how many fights there are and how complex they get, it just shows the level of control over their own bodies that these people have. These men can aim a punch at each other’s face and stop within the nick of time and yet I know people who seem to struggle to hold in a fart. As an advert for the potential of the human physique, the film that these non-blond, Indonesian supermen have made is proof that Hitler and his Aryan creations were talking out of their arse.

So bearing in mind how much I love The Raid, I think the main thing to say about this sequel is that both the best and worst thing about it is in how it's so different from its predecessor. As mentioned, The Raid was a non-stop smack-fest in which the action started early on and then just never fucking ended. This one however had the cheeky bollocks to go and stick this massive sprawling story in too. Initially I was a little disappointed by this as, in my excitement to see a sequel to the first film, I'd basically geared myself up all day for a film consisting entirely of people getting proper fucked up. Obviously this still happened but the violence would pause every so often as the story was moved along by the emotions and non-violent actions of the characters... how weird… but thankfully, the disappointment didn't last long as I quickly realised three things. Firstly, I didn't mind the inclusion of a story because I was enjoying the story. Secondly, I didn't mind that it focused a lot more on the characters because I was enjoying the characters. And thirdly, the main reason that the violence and action of part one was so great was possibly because it was so unexpected. If they just repeated themselves here then the odds are that it probably wouldn't have had the same impact and really, who wants to see the same thing happen all over again? One of the biggest problems of action movies is that they do tend to just repeat the beats of their first film and to be fair, they usually end up being as boring as shit. To quote John McClane in Die Hard 2 as, for the second Christmas in a row he finds himself fighting bad guys, How can the same shit happen to the same guy twice?” Lazy screenwriting would be my guess.

When DIY goes wrong.
Anyway, so other than obviously The Raid, the other two things I'd say that this film kind of feels like is both The Godfather 2 with its sprawling story of gangsterism and well... pretty much anything by Tarantino I suppose. Or, at least whatever film Tarantino has been watching to rip off that week. There's a woman who kills people with hammers and a guy that kills people with a baseball and bat that could pretty much have come straight from a Kill Bill deleted scene. They're also cool as fuck with one of the things I really enjoyed being their lack of back story. The introduction of these demented fucknuggets and the lack of explanation really helps to build on the size of the world that the film now takes place in. In honesty, I'd say the difference between The Raid and The Raid 2: Berandal is about as drastic as the change from Alien to Aliens. Now that we've seen more of the films’ world and the bloodstained psychopaths that live there, I really can't wait to see what happens in The Raid 3.Not that I'm saying this is perfect, by the way. With the huge story, the main character Rama gets a little lost every so often and there's at least one scene that randomly runs pretty close to misogyny but it gets so much else right that these don't damage the film in the long run. Just remember that as impressive as all this is, it's also really, really violent. If you don't enjoy the idea of watching a train full of people get their guts torn out by some bitch with a couple of claw hammers then you might find this to be a pretty tough watch. Having said that, if like me you've got 'issues' then the two and a bit hours it's on for will fly by. Thanks for reading motherfuckers, and see you next blog!

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