Staff Pick: “The Raid 2” a blood-soaked action classic

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From the April 10, 2014 edition

You know how they say the sequels are never as good as the original? Well, one area that rule doesn’t apply? Video games.

I bring this up because last year I compared the plot of “The Raid: Redemption” to a video game — a good guy fighting through levels of bad guys. The action was insane. My only complaint was that it tended to blur together.

Well, “The Raid 2” is the “Super Mario Bros. 3” of action movies. Longer, better, more varied and just a total blast.

The sequel picks up right after the events of the first film. With supercop Ram (Iko Uwais) having defeated scores of baddies, he’s forced to go deep undercover in prison to avoid the wrath of a crime syndicate. The plot will be familiar enough to genre fans, I think you can easily enjoy this without having seen the first one.

Writer-director Gareth Evans borrows liberally from the clichés of crime action flicks, but with his star/fight choreographer Iko Uwais and cinematography by Matt Flannery and Dimas Imam Subhono, the results are jaw-dropping (and jaw-breaking).

“Raid 2” is subtitled from Indonesian and Japanese, and it is 2 1/2 hours long (though it never feels like it), so Steven Seagal fans probably need not apply. And there is a ton of brutal violence, so the art house crowd is probably out too.

If you’re in the sweet spot in between — say you love the “Kill Bill” movies? — you gotta see “The Raid 2” on the big screen.

Photo courtesy of Sony Pictures Classics