The Raid: The Defining Action Trilogy of the Decade

Very few action films come along that seldom live in the memory of the cinema and film spectator, there are some that captivate us with extraordinary sequences, some that have great antagonistic face offs, and others that remain immortal, The Raid may just tick all those boxes.

the-raid-posterBack in 2011 Welsh director Gareth Huw Evans released an action film with a similar structure to that of Die Hard, we do not think of it at all as plagiarism but rather taking that inspiration and amplifying it to the superlative maximum. Perfect choreographed fight scenes kept us glued to the screen while at the same time driving a plot in a frenetic and organized direction, the actors themselves were tremendously dedicated to their craft, which very rarely Hollywood actors do in terms of action sequences, the Indonesian production of The Raid allowed Evans to have total control which he executed brilliantly.

Films like Die Hard, Face/Off & Hard Boiled all shared one thing in common in terms of how genres of action should be made, it’s that their chosen plot was very well balanced with action sequences and character development; this is what Evans has shown superbly and in even more greater detail in The Raid 2.

the-raid-2-posterWith almost an hour longer than its predecessor, the sequel takes place moments after the events of the first, with a much wider expansive world, plenty more characters that can fight, shed blood, cause destruction which produces sequences that make almost any modern action film seem like child’s play.

Gareth Evans took what he learned from his first masterpiece and cranked the volume to a level that will make heads implode, and that’s what you get when you witness an action film of such sheer magnitude.

The-Raid-2-3-Connections-StoryThe plot flows even more smoother and with even more detailed action than ever before, you just wonder what he has in store for the 3rd and perhaps final part of this blockbuster trilogy, with Tony Jaa rumoured to be included, filming and development will not begin till 2018 or 2019 according to Gareth Evans.

the-raid-2-gareth-evansWhat these two films did so vividly is attention to exponential detail in terms of action and characters, Gareth Evans trusted his cast so much that they definitely showed their loyalty, the result is on the screen, both films already looking to become instant classics, but with the third looming over the horizon and waiting to be released you just wonder if The Raid trilogy will be a significant benchmark in the rebirth genre of action filmmaking.

5 Underrated Films You Must Watch

Below is a list of films you may or may not have watched that some people including myself have deemed them to be underrated but are equally watchable and brilliant.

1. Interstate 60 (2002)

600A majestic film that has to do with existence and our purpose in the world, you may recognize certain stars in this film including Gary Oldman playing the “genie” guidance role, A fascinating and thought provoking film that is recommended for repeat viewing, the music throughout accompanies the movie perfectly and the flow is also brilliant as well as inspiring, highly recommended.

2. The Party (1968)

the20partyOne of the funniest films ever made, hilarity ensues when Peter Sellers playing a famous Indian actor gets invited by accident to a lavish Hollywood party, the pace of the film is terrific and you cannot help but laugh at the limited but outstanding scenarios in one space, make the comedies of nowadays seem small in comparison to this film, and if there was a remake it wouldn’t come close, an extraordinarily funny feature.

3. Equilibrium (2002)

equilibrium-2Christian Bale stars in what is perhaps one of the most action filled and carefully planned films of all time. Kurt Wimmer’s film set in the distant future where all forms of feeling are illegal, Christian Bale who is a man in charge of enforcing the law rises to overthrow the system in absolutely spectacular fashion. The gunfight scenes are some of the greatest since “The Matrix”, one to see purely for the combat and “1984” style plot.

4. Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (2005)

Basic CMYKAn ultra-cool mystery crime caper starring Val Kilmer & Robert Downey Jr in what I believe is the movie that helped relaunch his career, fantastically written by Shane Black who also directed and wrote the new Iron Man film, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang is a modern noir which brings mutually together a private eye, a struggling actress, and a thief imitating an actor. Smart as well as funny, it is an entertaining film purely to watch for the chemistry of Kilmer and Downey Jr as well as for the performances, slick, clever & well-acted.

5. What Dreams May Come (1998)

what-dreams-may-comeA deeply engrossing and vision of a film it tells the story of Robin Williams who dies in a car accident (shown in trailer) link here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RmZ-FuBThuQ

Not aware that he is dead his vision of the afterlife is that of his wife paintings, the film shows the undying bond between a man and his wife and how an individual envisions the afterlife. Extremely visionary to say the least, Robin Williams gives a great performance and the scenery depicted in the film is certainly not too bad either, a must watch.

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Die Hard,Harder,Hardest Where it went wrong for the Die Hard Franchise and how it can be improved

First of all I wish to state that I do not hate the Die Hard franchise I consider them to be a worthy action series but with the ever changing landscape of friendly action films from Hollywood what was once hailed one of the most action packed and gritty action films has become a shortened down version in terms of duration and content.

With the first Die Hard we witnessed John McClane in a fantastic action packed film for the ages that in a way worked like a video game, going up a different floor where the bad guys become more in quantity and strength, tougher to defeat before the semi-final boss fight on the roof and the intense finale of Hans Gruber’s demise in the end.

die_hard_ver2I can honestly say the first Die Hard film rates as one of my all-time favourite action films, not only did it have the explosions and the ultimate hero but it had a plot that drove it towards that. With a strong rating of 18 (Rated R) it lived up to that but it was fantastically entertaining and gritty, the best in the series.

Commencing from that, the second instalment Die Hard 2 also a strong 15 rating this too was equally entertaining and had some worthy bad guys’ as well. This like the first film was also set around Christmas time and spared no punches at the action including a blockbuster finale sequence at the end with McClane vs The Villains plane, proving again he’s a one man army.

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The third film in the series I found out to be the most modern action of the bunch and also pitting McClane with a fantastic villain in Simon Gruber played by the brilliant Jeremy Irons, and if that wasn’t enough McClane had a partner to work with in this Samuel L. Jackson, having previously worked together on Pulp Fiction, they were put together as a team in order to track down Simon who had put bombs around New York and the one man with the goal of stopping him was once again McClane, this was also a great film of the series and very stylishly made.

die-hard-with-a-vengeance-original Twelve years later was quite a long time to wait for a Die Hard film and this is where the series took a slight turn, Die Hard 4 or Live Free or Die Hard or Die Hard 4.0 whichever way you wish to see it, was quite entertaining but with a rating of 12A (PG-13) it did not have the violence or bad language (e.g Yippee ki-yay, motherfu…!) it had John McClane pitted in the modern era now where the bad guys weapon was a means of manipulation of technology, this was a fun film to watch but it had lacked the rawness of the previous three and set up what the series would look like in years to come with future releases.

live-free-or-die-hard-posterWhich bring us to the latest film of the action franchise Die Hard 5 (A Good Day to Die Hard) which introduces us to McClane’s son and them teaming up together, the film had been given a 12A rating but the action was still present, it may have seemed over the top in most instances, but it just shows the comparison if you compare the latest Die Hard to the first one, this is also the shortest film in the series at a mere 98 minutes, whereas the previous ones had gone just over the two hour mark.

A_Good_Day_to_Die_Hard_30With the next film out most probably next year it is hard to see how it will live up to the standards of the first three films, the last two films heralded a new era for the Die Hard franchise, but one thing that is common is the protagonist John McClane he still remains the only great thing about this franchise, with the emergence of a safe Hollywood action era we wonder when the next time will be when will see a gritty all out action frenzy version of Die Hard as witnessed in the first three going over a little on the fourth instalment.

I highly doubt that Hollywood would produce a Die Hard with a rating of over 15 (PG-13)  but the focus should be more on the villains and what a massive threat they can offer to the indestructible McClane rather than the most over the top action sequence.

We can allow the first three films this because they were unpredictable and truly applied a well-balanced formula of a brilliantly driven action plot film, we await what Die Hard 6: Die Hardest will bring, and a note to the director, study the first three films of the series carefully and bring back the true action nature of what makes the Die Hard franchise rightly something to behold, and to anyone who hasn’t seen any of the films I highly recommend seeing them and comparing the jump of style between the 3rd one and beyond. Let’s hope the 6th film in the series will bring back the rawness of the first three, as for John McClane there can be no wrong as he finds creative new ways to destroy the bad guys and with his notable and iconic catchphrase too.

 

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Christopher Nolan The Master of the Modern Film Noir

There are few film directors today that have defined a decade of filmmaking, films which ignite debates and where moments are repeated by both word and image, Christopher Nolan has showcased in his own idealistic style why he is important to the film industry, and why he is vital in the survival of how films are made and how they become eternal through time.

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His first full feature length film Memento intertwines mystery and suspense, what Nolan chooses to do with it? – Have the film go non-chronological of course, he isn’t your conventional film director, he is what an author would be if a book was written while been filmed at the same time.

Contributing to screenplays as well as his directorial prowess, Memento gives the audience and the individual spectator a chance to participate in the film and solve the case as well as the protagonist Leonard played by Guy Pearce in the film, a character lost and confused while he tries and finds out who murdered his wife. Memento showcases the very best of Early Nolan and does it on a heavyweight scale even though the budget was under nine million dollars. The film takes us on a gripping journey in which we try and solve but Nolan being Nolan don’t expect an easy ending for a twist is always around the corner with this influential director.

Just two years after Memento was released Nolan follows up with another mystery starring Al Pacino & Robin Williams, an unconventional cast Nolan makes the most of it and delivers a great thriller based on the remake of the same name Insomnia.

A detective thriller set on a slightly bigger scale remade into a Nolan style, it has its moments of Nolanism with its twist and turns and brilliant still camerawork, Nolan manages to pull off a great remake of the same name of the 1997 Norwegian thriller while using two great actors side by side of Pacino and Williams.

For three years the director remained absent in Hollywood, he had picked up a project to reboot, a superhero series, a series that had been made well before in the past with Burton at the helm but Nolan wanted to offer his touch to it and deliver a momentous superhero trilogy that would remain untouched and locked in the memory as one of the finest superhero trilogies ever made.

2005 the year and so it had begun, Batman Begins showed what Nolan had in store for us, offering his noir and mysterious touch in his previous features, although it had made the least money out of the three films in the trilogy it had paved the way of something big to come, something much much bigger.

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People were sceptical at first that another Batman film was in the works but Nolan had shown us on screen that this trilogy was his, that he would own these films with his cemented directorial style, encompassing drama, action, suspense and mystery, The film had portrayed Batman as a detective who showed justice while knowing various martial arts techniques, Gotham was dark and gritty and the cast was perfectly picked to deliver a first class first part of a trilogy that would start something great prodigious.

After this The Prestige followed Nolan’s directorial feature timeline, a film that showed magicians at war, both Christian Bale and Hugh Jackman were brilliant in the roles as deceiving and mysterious individuals and this film came with plenty of twists and turns, Michael Caine also remained a loyal counterpart in his second appearance of five to come in Nolans later films.

Just when we thought the art of magic was an easy going occupation Nolan showed us all the darker and clandestine elements of it, set in London in the 19th century it shows the hunt and execution of the ultimate illusion and our hunt for the ultimate discovery in a film that would challenge us in its deception and enigmatic dexterity.

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One of Nolan’s very strong efforts and his oldest films in terms of its established timeline, Nolan had shown us a London in the 1900’s a very different one at that and with magicians at the epicentre of it he had delivered a durable, brilliant mystery while incorporating factual settings and Nolan being Nolan again challenges the audience to discuss the film in more detail, and to come up with their own conclusions and explanations. (It’s just what he does!)

After a two year break from directing, in that time since The Prestige Nolan had been working on a film that would launch him into the stratosphere and establish him and this film as a monumental achievement in terms of both comic book to film and how superheroes films were to be made today.

The Dark Knight which was Nolan’s fifth feature film paved the way, the film had become an instant game changer in terms of how comic books would be made into films, it had featured a great mystery within the film and a brilliant but dangerous cat and mouse (Bat & Joker) game with The Joker & The Batman, never before had such a film drifted so much attention away from the protagonist. Heath Ledger’s portrayal easily challenges Nicholson’s but bearing in mind these films were made at different periods and different styles but also a different approach to the character.

Nolans Dark Knight resembled a graphic novel and a mysterious one at that, it had participated the audience and challenged responses and debates about the film, it had become a film that you could never tire from, and Nolan had put his stamp down in his own directorial heavyweight style, the directorial brilliance of this film had enhanced the characters in every sense making them stand out of the screen especially the manipulative, sadistic Joker.

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When a director transforms an actor into an unrecognizable one that’s when you know he had performed his duty, and in this case there is absolute no exception. A momentous and astonishing comic book feature that would bring and set up a brilliant finale to a great trilogy but the second in the trilogy still remains the greatest superhero film of all time.

Inception which challenged the full idea of the origins of dreams as well as the subconscious mind was Nolan’s heist film in a way but in the case of Nolan it was an enriching and perplexing experience in the greater sense that made for repeat viewing.

A great cast as always in the case of Nolan films this film had mastered the idea of searching within your dreams and taking control of them, manipulating them to your advantage and gain. Sure we had seen films made from dreams in the past but not in the great and magnitude of a scale, Nolan had a massive budget to work with but he used it well and again he had challenged the audience with a brilliant ending that would spark again a debate amongst people, its Nolan loves to do, leave it to the audience to decide what happened.

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Inception was a mystery pushed to the full, a mystery on a brilliantly large scale that showed us an imaginative and wondrous world created from our minds or in this case Nolan’s mind. Lucid dreaming plays an important part in this film which is the ability to control your own dreams as you become aware in them, the feature had questioned our own ability in dreams and had made us research the origins of them, what truly makes us project these realistic illusions and portrayals of our minds and what would they look like on the big screen, Nolan had shown us an epic mystery feature that would again challenge our ability to handle yet another fantastic Nolan feature.

The time had become to experience a finale with the Batman trilogy being the first of Nolan’s creation, he had made fantastic films in between and he would set up a great finale featuring one of the darkest comic book heroes.

The Dark Knight Rises which came out in 2012 saw the end of the Batman franchise or the Batman reboot, Nolan knows great casting and in this film he had cast Tom Hardy as Bane shown in his previous film Inception, but Tom Hardy had been transformed into a brilliant and clever monster.

This would be regarded as the blockbuster Nolan film and Hollywood had now taken attention of his true directorial power, this film featured a large scale explosion as seen on the trailer but not seen in previous Nolan films, the only thing I would remember is the car chase scene in The Dark Knight, but in my opinion The Dark Knight Rises had been a fitting finale incorporating Nolan’s idealistic and brilliant directorial touches, he had created a brilliant trilogy that would remain immortal and untouched until someone decides to reboot Batman yet again, which I don’t see happening for a while.

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Christopher Nolan’s next feature film will come in a years’ time out in 2014, Interstellar which is an examination of scientist Kip Thorne’s theories of gravity fields, as well as other numerous theories that Einstein couldn’t prove, but before all that we would all witness how he approaches Man of Steel  as a writer and producer we will certainly see shades of Nolan but not being a director in this film we can’t help but feel the inspiration that will emerge from him within this film.

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Christopher Nolan has remained an influential figure in the master class of filmmaking and his films are proof of that, he has created an outstanding feel to his films, ones that intrigue and challenge us, no doubt in my mind that he is one of the best directors in the world right now and we cannot wait to see what vivid, dazzling and magnificent films he has in store for us next, In just fifteen years he has become a name in Hollywood that most directors both established and up and coming seek to aspire too, a glorious filmmaker, writer and storyteller.

“But I have been interested in dreams, really since I was a kid. I have always been fascinated by the idea that your mind, when you are asleep, can create a world in a dream and you perceive it as though it really existed…”

-Christopher Nolan