Immediately after the events of The Raid (2011), Rama is recruited to join an undercover task force. He resists, but when his brother is killed, he agrees to protect his family.
To earn the trust of Bangun, a local crime lord, Rama is sent to prison to befriend Bangun’s son, Uco, and saves his life during a prison riot. When he’s released, he’s given a position with Bangun’s organization.
Uco is desperate for his father’s respect, but when he reveals his plan for the organization, his father humiliates him. Uco murders his father, but Rama escapes and confronts him in a final battle sequence.
Welsh director Gareth Evans has shown a penchant for filming inventing martial arts action sequences, specializing in pencak silat, or Indonesian martial arts.
I didn’t like The Raid: despite several inventive action sequences, the story was bland. I had low expectations for a sequel, but the movie impressed me. Evans combined the cool creative action pieces with a compelling story. By providing us with characters we care about, the action scenes are more impressive. This is a pretty good action movie, like Bruce Lee filmed a remake of The Departed.
This is not a good movie, but it doesn’t deserve the level of scorn and invective hurled its way.
Stallone and DeNiro are aging boxers Henry “Razor” Sharp and Billy “The Kid” McDonnen. Years earlier they had two epic fights: each winning one against the other. They were set to fight in a rubber match but at the last-minute Razor dropped out, infuriating Kid.
Now in his twilight years, Razor is in need of money and promoter Dante Slate Jr. (Kevin Hart) convinces him to fight Kid one more time. This is the best thing I’ve seen Kevin Hart, but since I’ve hated most of them, this is faint praise.
Kim Bassinger is Sally, Razor’s former girlfriend who cheated on him with Kid and got pregnant. Razor has never forgiven her this indiscretion. Remember when Kim Bassinger won an Academy Award in for LA Confidential (1997)? Her career has included several high-profile roles; Vicki Vale in Batman (1989) and Bond girl Domino in Never Say Never Again (1983), but she’s never achieved the kind of success you might have expected. Her later career has consisted of a lot of supporting roles in B movies like this.
LL Cool J has a small role as the owner of a gym who initially agrees to train Kid for the match, but thinks the aging boxer is a joke.
Jon Berenthal (best known as Shane from The Walking Dead) is the adult child of Sally and Kid.
Alan Arkin is Louis “Lightning” Conlon, Razor’s longtime trainer who’s also broke. The role is a lighter version of Mickey Goldmill from the Rocky series. Arkin’s had a long and successful career (winning an Oscar in 2006 for Little Miss Sunshine). He’s a talented actor, but doesn’t get a chance to show it here.
This is the kind of movie we should expect from Sylvester Stallone. His whole career post Rocky (1976) has been a long attempt to prove he can act. He cannot; unless you expand the definition of acting to include memorizing and reciting large chunks of dialogue. He’s won four Razzie Awards for Worst Actor for a reason. Throughout his career, Stallone has played one character over and over again: Sylvester Stallone. However, at the end of the day, he’s probably had the most substantial and impressive career of any bad actor.
Robert De Niro’s resume is as impressive as anyone: The Godfather Part II (1974), The King of Comedy (1983), The Untouchables (1987) Goodfellas (1990), but in recent years he’s been in some horrible movies: Little Fockers (2010), Last Vegas (2013) The Big Wedding (2013). When given good material he’s still a capable actor: see Silver Linings Playbook (2012), but his late career has been mostly paycheck movies. The body of his work puts him serious in contention for greatest actor of all time; it hurts to see him wasting time in middling movies like this.
Despite a few cringe inducing moments like Kid having sex in the back seat of his car while his young grandson sits in the front seat, this movie mostly succeeds as light entertainment.
Elmo refuses to share his favorite blanket with Zoe. A tug-of-war ensues, and the blanket ends up in the arms of Telly Monster. In a scene out of a Marx Brothers film, his blanket winds up with Oscar the Grouch who sneezes on it and throws it in his trash can.
Elmo dives into the trash can and winds up in Grouchland, where the evil Huxley (Mandy Patinkin) steals the blanket. In order to retrieve it, Elmo has to get past the Queen of Trash (Vanessa Williams) and go to Huxley’s lair on Mount Pickanose.
The gang from Sesame Street tries to help, but are arrested by the Grouch Police.
It’s a sweet movie with a few light chuckles, perfect for a small toddler. Simple enough for them to understand everything; short enough to not lose their attention, and it involves everyone’s favorite resident of Sesame Street: Elmo.
I’m not embarrassed to admit I really liked this. A lot of children’s films are unwatchable. The Oogieloves in the Big Balloon Adventure (2012), which also featured Mandy Patinkin, was an excruciating 87 minutes I wouldn’t wish on anyone, but I watched this with my three-year old and had a great time.