By Robert Barlow
There’s always a film or two playing during the Toronto International Film Festival that creates such a buzz that no matter what other film you are waiting in line for, people just can’t stop talking about it. In 2011, one such film was director Gareth Evans’ The Raid, which ended up winning the People’s Choice Award for best Midnight Madness film at that year’s festival.
What’s most astounding about this is that the plot of The Raid is actually so simple that it can be explained in just two sentences. A bad guy – in this case a brutal crime lord – is hiding out on the 15th floor of an abandoned apartment building in Indonesia. The good guys – in this case the police – have to fight their way through an army of killers and thugs as they move up the different floors of the building.
But here’s the kicker, and I mean the real kicker. The action scenes that feature martial arts star Iko Uwais and which make up 90 percent of the film, are so inventive and awe-inspiring that they continue to elevate the film to greatness with each and every floor of the building that the police ascend. The kinetic pacing of The Raid leaves very little time for you to catch your breath as one action scene runs into another and another and another. I guarantee that you’ve never seen anything like it before. You can feel every punch, kick and impact on the screen in your seat – no 3D needed.
At the time of its release, The Raid – retitled The Raid: Redemption – was hailed by both critics and audiences as one of the best action films of all time and I certainly agreed. So, when a sequel was announced I was quite skeptical as to how Evans and Uwais were going to top their first effort. I mean, there is no possible way that a sequel could be deliver what The Raid did, right?
Well, The Raid 2: Berandal premiered at the Sundance Film Festival this January – the same day the U.S. trailer for the film hit the Internet – and reaction to both was unquestionable. The Raid 2: Berandal, which takes place two hours after the first film, appears to be one of those rare sequels which are as good – if not better than – the film that came before it. Sundance reviewers simply called it, “The best action film ever” and left it at that, not being able to put into words the mayhem and carnage that they had just witnessed.
When I first saw the trailer for The Raid 2: Berandal, which introduced the new character of Hammer Girl, played by Julie Estelle, I was hooked and immediately placed the film at the top of my must-see list for 2014. Now, as the film opens tonight at The Little Theatre, I get my chance to see all the bone-crushing action for myself. I can’t wait!
Robert Barlow is currently finishing his degree at St. John Fisher College. He left college early to write for Messenger Post newspapers, covering everything from murder trials and town government to film festivals and concerts. He is a self-professed movie geek and has attended the Toronto International Film Festival for 10 years.