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They are called "motion" pictures, after all, and there is no one in the world right now shooting more exciting or bruising fight sequences than Gareth Evans. From the brutal cut to the film's opening title and that ominous image of Rama in the bathroom stall, hell desperate to get in to where he is, to the absolutely insane knife fight at the film's climax, "The Raid 2" is the single best action film of any size, any language, any budget, that was released this year.
Beyond that, it is an education in how to shoot action. Money's not the object here… it's the way Evans and his amazing stunt team dive into every moment like it's the only time they're ever going to make a movie. They leave nothing untried, and when i watch their films, I hurt. Iko Uwais never looks like he's a superhero. Instead, every punch he throws seems to cost him something, and it makes the fights that much more visceral. The ambition of "The Raid 2" is perhaps its undoing on a narrative level (it's a little dense with double-crosses by the time it ends) but there is nothing anyone else did this year that got my pulse up like this did.