Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Side By Side: Two Action Sequels

Today is going to be a slightly different version of Side By Side; where I take a look at two action films that are in theaters today. One of these is great and the other is better. One of these films is a big budget blockbuster that's kicking ass at the box office. The other, only cost 4.5 million to make and made about half it's budget back, so far. In one, they speak Indonesian. In the other they speak AMERICAN! Have you figured out the two films I'm painfully hinting at? Yeah, I'm talking about Captain America: Winter Soldier and The Raid 2: Berandal. 

Both of these films are great for their own reasons. However, Raid 2 is simply more compelling and action packed. Go ahead! Call me an elitist for picking the small budget foreign film. But, I gave Captain America a fair shot and I enjoyed it, just not as much as Raid 2. Which is, one of the most brutally violent films I've seen in a long time. Raid 2 wears it's R rating as proudly as Captain America wears the stars and stripes. Bones break with violent snaps, faces are pummeled beyond recognition, and throats are cut. All of which makes the PG-13 bloodless Captain America seem tame in comparison. Where guns pop, bullets fly, and people dance to their death like their in a Sergio Leone flick.

Stylistically, each one has a style that is befitting of each films tone. Any fan of Community would know the Russo Brothers know their troupes very well and they use them very precisely in Captain America. Which makes for a somewhat visually predictable and unimpressive film. On the other side of the world Gareth Evans is throwing the camera through walls, turning it upside down and sideways. This off the wall approach enhances the violence and makes it stronger. When people aren't fighting, the frames have a meditative and well balanced quality. Which creates a place for the audience to rest between scenes; while keeping them on the edge of their seats.

The true advantage Captain America over The Raid 2, is it's more family friendly. There are as many off screen deaths as there are laughs. Some big laughs and some mere chuckles. The biggest laugh in The Raid 2, involves a gigantic strap-on. Captain America has 95% less subtitles and blood. Occasionally, a character might get a bloody nose or a bullet wound might bleed. But, most of the time the characters bounce back. It's really like comparing Tom and Jerry to Itchy and Scratchy. But, if you love action and can tolerate subtitles then you must get to the theaters and see The Raid 2!

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