The sequel to the action movie classic The Raid is now in cinemas. Harry Guerin finds out whether it lives up to the original.
So many to convert, so little time - in hushed tones, and with the wide eyes of long gone birthdays, some of us have decided that it's our calling in life to spread the word about Gareth Evans' The Raid, the greatest action film of the past two decades.
Two years on from The Raid's release, goose bumps and giddiness still ensue when watching it again (and again), and the jealousy of new arrivals to its genius isn't getting any easier to deal with.
Now, while you can't improve on beat-'em-and-shoot-'em-up perfection, you can equal it. But sadly, The Raid 2 will not inspire the same devotion.
Picking up where the carnage in the first film left off, we find cop-turned-one-man-army Rama (Iko Uwais) receiving an offer he can't refuse: to go undercover in a bid to root out the high-up crooked police and the Mr Bigs of the Jakarta underworld.
To make his new identity foolproof, Rama must first serve a prison sentence. He's told it will only be for a few months; two years later he's still there.
Along with its genre-redefining fight sequences, The Raid worked so well because of the hell-in-a-tower-block tightness of its plot. Here, Evans tries to show he can do drama just as well as dust-ups, but The Raid 2's expanded universe and Godfather-meets-grindhouse aspirations are problematic.
This film is a lot longer and bloodier than the original, and the extra time and claret do not result in more tension. As with The Raid, the action sequences - jail, motorway, kitchen - are superbly realised, but there's also the feeling that if Evans had cut the duration and included more talking and less thumping he may have made an edgier, smarter film. Of course, it's still far better than 95% of Hollywood's tough-nut offerings - just don't be surprised if you look at your watch on more than one occasion.
As for Part Three, Evans should heed his own last line of dialogue here.