Gareth Evans and Iko Uwais jump back into the fray for more blood-pumping action, hard-R style, in The Raid 2
Forget Sly, Arnie and Willis breaking their backs without breaking a sweat in The Expendables 2; the action star of 2012 was a freshfaced unknown from Indonesia. Iko Uwais opened fire, and skulls, on a solo mission of balletic rescue-rampage through a tower block of drug cartel goons, washing away the sour aftertaste of lame franchise returners (A Good Day To Die Hard, The Bourne Legacy, Taken 3) and delivering something truly exciting in this day and age – a great action movie, through and through.
Now comes The Raid 2, reuniting star Uwais with Welsh director Gareth Evans for another shot of machete-dodging and knee-capping adrenalin. Uwais’ Jakarta cop Rama unsurprisingly attracted some attention for his crimebusting hijinks, and is forced to go undercover to fish out the real bad guys at the very bottom of the criminal underbelly. New bads with names like Hammer Girl and Baseball Bat Man – take a guess on their weapon(s) of choice – brings new opportunities for some exhilarating stuntwork. But Evans also tightens the focus on the human drama, giving some extra impetus to all that pain.
Also new on DVD and Blu-ray is Muppets Most Wanted, bringing back Kermit and co. for a Euro heist caper courtesy of frog doppelganger Constantine. Jason Segel is out, but Ricky Gervais, Ty Burrell and Tina Fey are in to fill the fleshbag quota. Calvary marks the second outing for director/star team John Michael McDonagh and Brendan Gleeson, swapping Sergeant Boyle for Father James in another Irish-set dramedy about a kindly priest facing the imminent threat of death. Documentary-maker Errol Morris sets his lens on former US Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld in The Unknown Known. And finally, the latest YA craze Divergent casts Shailene Woodley (The Descendents) as the young heroine caught between multiple factions and shaking up the very foundations of a totalitarian government, whilst also finding lurve in the shapely arms of a fellow rebel. It all sounds a bit Hunger Games, but what teen adventure doesn’t these days?
Elsewhere, Netflix UK subscribers can prepare themselves for the Battle Of The Five Armies by (re)watching the first two Hobbit movies from Middle-earth settler Peter Jackson. An Unexpected Journey takes a while to get going, but does feature some great mocap action from Andy Serkis’ original creation Gollum; The Desolation Of Smaug ups the action, adds some elves and gives us Benedict Cumberbatch acting all up himself as the titular dragon.