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Tuesday, 12 August 2014

THE RAID 2: UK Blu-Ray Review

Welcome Back,

Yesterday, Monday 11th August, the ultra-violent film THE RAID 2: BERANDAL was finally released onto UK DVD and Blu-Ray, fully uncut and uncensored. We are the first country in the world, outside of Indonesia, to see the film fully intact. Even the normally open-minded Americans had the film cut by the MPAA to remove scenes of violence that they felt went too far!

For those of you who want to read more about the film itself, please click  here  for my review of it. This new article, is really just a small update, about the UK Blu-Ray.

Arriving completely uncut, this is an excellent release of a controversial martial-arts action flick. It's also one of the very few films, that is a genuinely better film than the original. Courtesy of Entertainment One, this Region B-locked Blu-Ray is a single, 50gb Blu-Ray disc, filled to bursting with worthwhile extras.

Picture-wise, the film is presented in a beautiful-looking image, with a variable bit-rate. With the rate being between 15mb and 34mb per second, the averaging-out to around 19mb per second, makes this a lovely transfer, of a sometimes problematic film, due to the numerous and highly-speedy editing in the film, and the speed of many of the actual fights by the lead cast. You will definitely be using your Blu-Ray player's frame-by-frame function throughout this film, especially during the three major fight sequences: the opening prison yard fight, the subway fight between Hammer Girl and Baseball Bat Boy, and the final kitchen fight - one of the longest and toughest fight scenes I've ever watched, that rival anything Jackie Chan or Bruce Lee ever pulled-off. The Prison Yard sequence alone, at about 20 minutes into the film, is certainly an impressive AV scene worthy of showcasing a Blu-Ray off with! Not since AVATAR on Blu-Ray has a film looked so amazing at home!

Audio-wise, we have just two tracks: the original Indonesian 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio track, with accompanying (removable) English Subtitles, and a newly-created English 5.1 DTS Dub. I only watched the film with the Indonesian soundtrack playing, and it's as good as you would hope. Admittedly, unless you play this very loud, or with a professional or high-end sound-system, it's not as "bone-crunching" as when it played in theatres, but it more than does the job. (In cinemas, you really heard and felt every punch and kick, to the point that you heard bones crack!) There's certainly no faults with it, and the subtitles also appear well-written, accurate and seem error-free.

There's an audio commentary from Gareth Evans too, but I've not had a chance to test it out yet. If his interviews in the extras are anything to go by, then it will be an enjoyable and entertaining listen, compared to the usual "dry" commentaries many films get.

If the film wasn't enough, then Entertainment One have added plenty of bonus material too. Totalling almost 90 minutes, the extras are really, really enjoyable. Starting things off, we have The Next Chapter: Shooting A Sequel (10m 44s), in which the director discusses the processes of creating, financing, and shooting a sequel to a much beloved, low-budget original.

Next up, we have Ready For A Fight: On Location (12m 57s) which features behind-the-scenes material on shooting the sequel around various parts of Indonesia, and the technical problems that that entailed.

The 4m 32s "Deleted Scene: Gang War" featurette, features a scene filmed in full, but reluctantly deleted from the final movie, due to time-constraints. As gleefully violent as most of the other action scenes in this film, it's a real shame that this was removed in the first place, but - more importantly for me - that director Gareth Evans wasn't able to reinsert it back into the film, in its rightful place in the film, for home viewing audiences. Before you watch this scene, I would recommend watching the "Fan Event Q&A" featurette, which gives you more detail on why the scene was removed.

Following on, there's one of the two best featurettes, which is a 44-minute Q&A from The Cinefamily Foundation preview of the film. Here, Evans, Iko Uwais and composer Joe Trapanese discuss the film's creation and production, as well as some fun tales of problems that occurred during the lengthy seven-month shoot. It's genuinely informative, with a couple of laugh-out-loud moments to boot, and Evans comes across as a genuinely nice man. He's extremely selfless here, and admits that just because he's the director, he is by no means the most important part of the crew. Nice to see someone being so humble for a change. Alas, Uwais and Trapanese don't really get much chance to shine here, but it's still an excellent and very informative watch.

Violent Ballet: Behind The Choreography is a 19-minute documentary, about the cast and crew and the manufacture of the various key action scenes. You will absolutely learn some great stuff here, but do NOT watch this before you've seen the film, as it gives away the game of how they did so many of the effects! Again, you will learn much here, and it's nice to see featurettes that are both entertaining and actually worth watching, rather than being simple puff-pieces. The camera tricks they employed will genuinely astound!

Lastly, the final documentary is a UK-exclusive, and is a short-and-sweet 8m 22s Fan Event: Q&A from when the film premiered earlier this year in London. It's a real shame that this is so short, because I'm sure the audience there and the fans at home would love to have learnt far more than we actually got. Still, as for the Cinefamily Q&A, you will learn some things, and be thoroughly entertained too. There's one great moment to genuinely savour during this featurette, but I won't spoil it for you. Watch it, and enjoy the surprise!

Ultimately, this is an excellent release of a great action film. The fact we have it completely uncut, is also an amazing bonus. And once you see this, then you will see why in my original review, I was so shocked! Trust me, this is hard-hitting stuff! (Just don't tell the Daily Mail about it!)

I would definitely recommend this film. Moreso, if you liked the original! For American viewers, this is a film that should be a reason for you to become multi-regional as soon as possible. Not only do you get more extras on this release, than the US version from Sony Pictures Classics, but you get to see the film without any interference from the MPAA. If only all other Blu-Ray releases were as value-for-money as this one!

Well done, to Entertainment One on this release!

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