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Killers Mo Brothers, azuki Kitamura, Oka Antara, Rin Takanashi, Luna Maya, Ray Sahetapy, Ersya Aurelia, Epy Kusnandar, Mei Kurokawa, Denden, Motoki Fukami, Tara Basro, Dimas Argobie

Killers (キラーズ, Kirazu): a serial killer who uploads his work to a ‘DeathTube‘ site inspires an everyman to go vigilante. It’s the first time in a while that I’ve seen directors harness everything down to the distributors & funders logos to add to the film’s aesthetic; and with this level of detail from the get go, the film is technically admirable – sound, editing, camerawork etc. The opening 5 minutes really set the mood, with a shocking and ultra-graphic murder: the violence slowly escalates and darkens as the runtime progresses. Unlike The Raid‘s gritty-but-styalised – and even poetic – gore, this film is just plain gritty. One killer is a savvy psychopath fit for Dexter, the other is an everyman pushed over the edge, Falling Down style. Another unique aspect is that it’s a collaborative effort from two directors (The Mo Brothers – not real brothers), filmed in two locations – Japan and Indonesia – with English spoken parts when the two leads interact; it doesn’t hinder the film’s international appeal, although something feels lost in translation story-wise. At 140 minutes it does lose feel rather long-winded and intricate for what is essentially a serial killer movie with a disjointed story and not much in the way of themes or messages. If you like your gore gory, and your films stylish this ticks both boxes – although not a lot else. The main stars of Killers are the directors, who with more focus (shorter runtime and tighter story) could pose a serious threat to Gareth Evans as the king of contemporary Indonesian action.

Score: 6/10

Killers 3 Mo Brothers, azuki Kitamura, Oka Antara, Rin Takanashi, Luna Maya, Ray Sahetapy, Ersya Aurelia, Epy Kusnandar, Mei Kurokawa, Denden, Motoki Fukami, Tara Basro, Dimas Argobie Killers 2 Mo Brothers, azuki Kitamura, Oka Antara, Rin Takanashi, Luna Maya, Ray Sahetapy, Ersya Aurelia, Epy Kusnandar, Mei Kurokawa, Denden, Motoki Fukami, Tara Basro, Dimas Argobie

The Raid 2 Berandal 01 Iko Uwais, Oka Antara, Arifin Putra, Tio Pakusadewo, Alex Abbad, Julie Estelle, Ryuhei Matsuda, Kenichi Endo, Kazuki Kitamura, Gareth Evans

The Raid 2: Berandal (aka The Raid: Thug): following on directly from events in The Raid… after his brother is murdered the rookie SWAT member goes undercover in order to flush out the city’s dirty cops. It feels like director Gareth Evans is “doing a Tarantino here, drawing from a lot of established Asian movie elements: the story is essentially Infernal Affairs; the themes feel like those of a fairly standard Japanese – notably Takashi Miikegangster flick (internal power struggles, territorial battles, OTT Violence, honour, betrayal, black humour); and the visuals feel like you’re watching a modern Korean movie – e.g. Park Chan Wook – as it’s loaded with rich imagery and patterns (like the art deco ballroom and bar, sterile kitchen, snow fight) and some cartoonishly menacing enemies (‘Hammer Girl’, and the ridiculous side-combed, cane-wielding baddie) – there’s also a shitload of nods to A Bittersweet Life, from the Car/Warehouse fight to the impeccably dressed mobsters. The action scenes remain unbelievably entertaining, expertly choreographed and jaw-droppingly inventive – although shaky cam is used a lot more in this one. You never get tired watching Iko Uwais play human pinball with dozens of henchmen, exploiting the various locations, and through most of the big fights you can’t help but grab your equivalent body part that has just been mangled on-screen and shout “fuuuuck!”, every 20 seconds. Once again, there’s a good peppering of ultra-black humour to provide a little relief from the action. At 150 minutes there’s a lot that could have been cut out and not missed – from developing minor characters through to shots of nails, water, snow – although it is rigidly punctuated with big set-pieces so you never get the chance to nod off. The Raid was a powerful, gritty, relentless and raw 90-minute virtually dialoge-free history-making fight-fest that raised the bar for all action movies – and although I can understand why Evans didn’t want to just do the same again, in ‘beefing up’ The Raid 2 he has leaned a little too heavily on other director’s works, taking the edges off – and diluting – the 90-minute, 10/10 movie that’s contained in here. Niggles aside, the film is still packed with genre-defining action, cutting edge fight-choreography, and more hard-18-rated violence than you could shake a poorly-aimed shotgun at.

Score: 8/10

The Raid 2 Berandal 02 Iko Uwais, Oka Antara, Arifin Putra, Tio Pakusadewo, Alex Abbad, Julie Estelle, Ryuhei Matsuda, Kenichi Endo, Kazuki Kitamura, Gareth EvansA546_C016_06060BThe Raid 2 Berandal 04 Iko Uwais, Oka Antara, Arifin Putra, Tio Pakusadewo, Alex Abbad, Julie Estelle, Ryuhei Matsuda, Kenichi Endo, Kazuki Kitamura, Gareth EvansThe Raid 2 Berandal 05 Iko Uwais, Oka Antara, Arifin Putra, Tio Pakusadewo, Alex Abbad, Julie Estelle, Ryuhei Matsuda, Kenichi Endo, Kazuki Kitamura, Gareth Evans