Don’t worry, there are still a couple more months for the summer blockbuster films to rule the box offices, (or maybe just a week or two when Captain America will rise to the top). But this past weekend saw the release of two action films, the gun-wielding monster Sabotage featuring Arnold Schwarzenegger and the wily Indonesian martial arts film, The Raid 2. Fans of action films should skip over Sabotage, save their friends from seeing it, and instead all head to see The Raid 2 several times.
Sabotage essentially opens with a snuff film but then has its own share of gore—as rare moments in the action. The gore appears placed as an afterthought, leftover glimpses of the carnage. In a way, the director makes the viewer uncomfortable as something dangerously morbid, like entrails hanging from the ceiling or scattered body parts near the rail road, is expected from each brutal incident that occurs. None of it adds to enjoyment of the film, it’s simply gratuitous. Schwarzenegger’s amusing machismo isn’t present here, his character is without mirth and heart. There aren’t any truly excellent action-scenes, even the car chase scene near the end seems pretty lame, giving him the opportunity to spout off one-liners.
The sequel to 2011’s The Raid: Redemption, The Raid 2: Berandal is a hyper¬-violent action film (you don’t have to see the first to appreciate the second). It is filled with a 1000 times more visceral blood, broken bones and bashed-in skulls than Sabotage. Yet none of it feels corny or additive, its either character driven or stylish, like a scene with viscous red blood flowing into footprints left in the powder white snow. Sure you’ll wince at some brutal assaults, but you’ll also cheer for the victors of the violence, like Rama/Yuda (Iko Uwais), and unique villains like “Hammer Girl” (Julie Estelle) and the baseball-bat character. These fights take place across a wide variety of venues, from a bathroom, to a muddy prison yard to the backseat of a car—each one building up to the blistering climax.
Action film fans should watch The Raid 2 several times before ever seeing Sabotage. The Raid 2 is poetic and gristly while Sabotage is just gory detritus.
Raid 2 cast and director at NYC Premiere: