As previously mentioned, I have been very excited for the release of the sequel to the action film masterpiece The Raid Redemption. This weekend, I saw The Raid 2: Berandal and went to great lengths to make sure I would be able to. The movie came out as limited release this weekend and would be released in more theaters the following week. However, my friends and I were so anxious to see this movie that we drove an hour to go to a theater that had it and we bought our tickets online to guarantee our seats (which turned out to be a brilliant idea because it was actually sold out). The excitement in the theater was palpable as everybody sat in their seats waiting for the lights to dim and for the previews to end, signaling awesomeness was going to be witnessed. I walked into that theater with ridiculously high expectations due to all the hype that surrounded this sequel, including that it was the next Terminator 2 of sequels, and if anything this movie was under-hyped. It was that good.
This movie picks up directly from where the last one left off, but this time Rama (the protagonist) gets involved in an undercover cop scheme to exploit the crimes of the mob bosses running Jakarta, Indonesia. This scheme involves him going to jail and becoming friends with one of the bosses’ sons and ultimately joining the mob while maintaining his undercover identity. However, things go sour due to miscommunication and suspicious activity from the cop who hired him for this job and from activities going on between the different mobs. The Raid 2: Berandal had much more story and plot in comparison to the movie that preceded it and it was a wonderful change. The first movie was very simple: cops fight their way up the tower and fight the mob boss. This one has much more complicated story compared to the first movie but at the same time it wasn’t too overwhelming.
This movie being an action/martial arts film, it is known that walking in there is going to be some level of violence. However, this movie does have a lot of violence and some gore, so just as a warning for those who don’t like those types of movies. First off, I would like to say that the cinematography of this film is much better than that of the first movie and is absolutely breath taking. The more cinematic, landscape-type shots were very placid and calm in contrast to the more fast paced parts of the film. The camera work for the fight scenes is mind blowing in how I still don’t understand how they were able to film everything so perfectly. One scene had a car chase and a fight happening in one of the cars, and the way the camera weaves through the different parts of the car was so smoothly done. In addition, their ability to capture the different angles of the hand to hand combat was beautiful. The fight choreography was done in such a manner that the moves went together and flowed almost like a ballet, but more violent.
I truly believe that this movie is revolutionary when it comes into terms of action films and the approach to how it is filmed. It is a testament to how such a quality film can be made without a large budget or fancy, expensive special effects. However, one thing that is disheartening is that American filmmakers want to make The Raid franchise but with American actors. I believe that a film like this shouldn’t be remade to fit a more mainstream audience, it should just be remembered by how it is and how it was originally intended to be seen. This movie will inspire aspiring directors and filmmakers and one day they will remix The Raid franchise into something new and different for the future generations. I highly recommend this film to any action movie fan and especially if you are into martial arts/hand to hand combat. You can count me in to watching this movie again in theaters when it is released to all theaters.
In the last post of this series we discussed the evolution of the rap from the 1980’s to the first part of the 1990’s. This period was widely known for the subgenre of hip-hop/rap called gangsta rap, which talked about the struggles of the inner city and was much harder than previous styles. We talked about the works and influence of artists like N.W.A., Dr. Dre, and the Wu-Tang Clan. This post will be dedicated to two of the rap giants during the 1990’s, 2Pac and The Notorious B.I.G, while exploring the West vs. East rivalry.
Tupac Amaru Shakur often heralded as one, if not the greatest rapper of all time, rose to fame during the early 1990’s . His first album, 2Pacalylpse Now discussed the struggles of growing up, racism, police brutality, and urban life. This set the precedent for much of 2Pac’s subject matter for his career as he would speak on the harsh reality of the inner city and how things must change. The political voice associated with 2Pac’s works are reminiscent of those who came before him like Public Enemy. His second album though would be his breakout album as it got him national atention within the rap industry with songs like I Get A Round and Keep Ya Head Up. Keep Ya Head Up is definitely the more touching of the two as it speaks about how in recent years and in the rap game women have been pushed down. He gives insight into his childhood and what he saw growing up. More of his social commentary could be seen in the song dedicated to his mother on his third album, Me Against the World. The song Dear Mama talks about and is a heartfelt homage to his mother who worked so hard to try and raise him in a world of turmoil. This is considered one of his greatest songs and is even a work collected in the Library of Congress.
2Pac’s fourth album was All Eyez On Me and is considered his greatest production due to the medley of rap hits it gave like How Do You Want It and the famous California Love. This album was released in 1996 after he had joined Death Row Records with a bunch of other prominent West Coast rappers in 1995. This album would be one of the most influential rap albums of all time as it would inspire the next generation of artists that would come up in the 2000’s. His last album, The 7 Day Theory, was made in a relatively short time and would have massive success but unfortunately he didn’t live long enough to see it for himself. On September 7, 1996, Shakur was murdered in Las Vegas after a Mike Tyson fight as he was the victim of a shooting while he was in the passenger seat with his friend Suge Knight. On September 13th, 1996, he had died in the intensive care unit of internal bleeding from the gunshot wounds. Tupac Shakur is remembered as being one of the greatest artists of all time as he rapped about the struggles of life and the tragedies of the human condition. He also helped to bring rap and hip-hop to the mainstream public which made it more of an acceptable art form for young artists to express themselves.
The second rap giant that dominated the 1990’s was Christopher Wallace or better known as The Notorious B.I.G. or Biggie Smalls. Biggie grew up in New York City and helped to bring back rap music from the East Coast as previously the rap game was dominated by West Coast artists. He started rapping as a teenager on the streets of Brooklyn and one day he was heard by Sean Combs (now better known as P. Diddy) of Uptown Records. However, Combs would be fired from his position at Uptown and decided to start his own label called Bad Boy Records. He continued to get exposure from releasing remixes of popular songs until he was able to release his first studio album, Ready To Die, in 1994. He broke out as an artist with the song Juicy which had pop-like vocals and the album also had the synth heavy Big Poppa. Juicy told the story of him trying to make it as an artist and the struggle of growing up in Brooklyn as well as trying to adjust to his new lifestyle. It got strong, positive reviews and brought attention back to the East Coast.
Unfortunately, Biggie and 2Pac would be involved in a long lasting feud that started from a misunderstanding in 1994. 2Pac was shot and mugged while in Quad Studios. He would accuse Sean Combs and Biggie of being involved in setting it up despite them claiming to not being involved. This misunderstanding started the intense rivalry between the two artists and the two coasts of the nation. It was all about the West versus the East. Death Row Records was very vocal about how they felt about Bad Boy Records. The rivalry between the two record labels pushed their respective artists to make better music and it also spurred their fan bases to support. However with the shooting of Tupac 1996, it came to a realization that it had gone to far as Death Row was blaming the East for the incident. Biggie was very open about how Tupac’s loss was a tragedy and remembered the times when they were friends before the 1994 incident. However, Biggie while visiting California to support his new album Life After Death was murdered on March 9, 1997. The murders of Tupac and Biggie are still unsolved and there is still controversy about what just might have happened. Christopher Wallace is considered one of the greatest rappers ever and will forever be known as the King of New York as far as rap.