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SXSW Movie Review: 'The Raid 2: Berandal'

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The Raid 2: Berandal

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Director Gareth Evans "The Raid 2: Berandal" hit SXSW with the blunt force of an aluminum baseball bat to the mouth last night.

Fans of Evans' "The Raid: Redemption" will more than enjoy seeing the sequel's extended beat downs and bloody carnage, along with the addition of new badass characters such as "Bat Man" and "Hammer Woman" who engage the movie's hero, Rama, in a spectacularly choreographed must-see hallway battle that rivals the hallway fight scene in the Korean version of "Old Boy."

However, although the visuals have improved over the first movie (thanks in large part to the movie being shot on RED Scarlet-X and RED Epic cameras), the plot and storyline are convoluted in this sequel.

Leading man Iko Uwais is a great physical actor who excels at martial arts action fight sequences, but giving him more dialogue in the sequel was also not a great idea.

In fact, if there's one major flaw with "The Raid 2," it's Evans proclivity for having too many talking heads scenes with an assortment of tough guy mobster characters rambling on ad nauseum trying to explain their motives and agendas.

Unfortunately, as slick and cool as these mobsters appear in "The Raid 2," no amount of swirling camera movements, atmospheric lighting and colorful set design can cover up the painfully obvious fact that we aren't watching Robert DeNiro, Joe Pesci or Ray Liotta chewing up that scenery with great dialogue.

Nevertheless, Evans does pay homage to the works of auteurs such as Martin Scorsese, Quentin Tarantino, Nicholas Winding Refn and Takeshi Kitano, not to mention Francis Ford Coppola's "The Godfather" trilogy.

If "The Raid" was Evans' equivalent of "Mean Streets" than "The Raid 2" is his "Goodfellas" complete with plenty of virtuoso cinematic flourishes and epic fight sequences that will satisfy most fans of the genre.

"The Raid 2" opens in theaters on March 28.

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