Tag Archives: Gareth Evans



When I was a kid, I loved Back to the Future and Home Alone and, when I first heard about sequels, I couldn’t believe my luck that there would be more of exactly the same. Home Alone 2, Back to the Future II, and Back to the Future III were predictable in the best way possible with virutally every scene from the first being pretty much recreated in some way in the sequels. As much as I loved the familiairity of sequels in those days, i’ve come to expect a little more. Here are three that aim a little higher than giving us more of the same. Please visit Wandering Through the Shelves to see what sequels some of our favourite bloggers love.

terminator 2

Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991)– Director james Cameron seemed to realize that Arnold Schwartzenegger, who had starred in several hits in the seven years between Terminator movies, was a tough guy to root against. As imposing a villian he was in Terminator, Arnold is just more fun as a hero in Terminator 2. With those sunglasses, that bike, that jacket and those one-liners, he brings a lot of charisma to the role of a robot. Other improvements include a tougher Sarah Connor (who Linda Hamilton is more than up to the challenge of playing), imaginative effects, and an altogether more epic approach to the story.

before sunset

Before Sunset (2004)– 1995’s Before Sunrise seems like an unlikely beginning to a franchise. It was low-budget and SO talky. I actually hated it when I first saw it. I found it to be boring and a little pretentious and it started in me a hate-on for Ethan Hawke that has lasted to this day. Nine years later, when Celine and Jesse reunite in Paris, they have matured just as the actors have and are much easier to root for. Their conversations, which seemed so trite to me in the first, are loaded with subtext in the second. They’ve spent nine year wondering what they would say to each other if they saw each other again and the weight of this moment is felt through every minute of this beautiful film.

The Raid 2 (2014)The Raid: Redemption, although awesome, was little more than a brilliantly executed bloodbath. Director Gareth Evans raises the stakes for The Raid 2 with even more carnage and well-choreographed fights but we get so much more. While the first was set almost entirely in a crackhouse with dialogue only when absolutely necessary, the second weaves a much more complex crime story with our hero going undercover in an organized crime syndicate in the middle of a turf war. Some of the best action filmmaking I’ve ever seen.

The Raid: Redemption

It was September 2011 and it was my first time at the Toronto International Film Festival.  I decided to take a chance on an Indonesian martial arts film that was then just called The Raid. It wasn’t like any of the other premiers that I had been to. It started at midnight with an energy that felt like  we were waiting for a concert – not a movie-  to start. When the film’s stars took the stage to introduce it, many audience members were more eager to see them fight than speak, with some calling for them to “kick him in the head”.

The plot of The Raid: Redemption, as it’s known now, is as simple as it gets. A Jakarta Swat team raids a high rise crack house where an untouchable drug dealer is hiding out. Things- who would have guessed-  go horribly wrong and the building’s residents kill all but a few cops, including a rookie named Rama, who will need to fight their way out with machete, axes, feet, fists, and elbows. (Everyone seems to run out of bullets quickly in this movie).

It’s not much but it’s all the story we need. The movie spends almost all its time dedicated to some of the best fight choreography I’ve seen in a long time. More importantly, director Gareth Evans knows how to shoot it. I’ve seen way too many action movies from disorganized directors who don’t known where to put the camera or editors who cut away too quickly to the point where it’s hard to tell who’s roundhousing who. Not here. Evans knows exactly what’s going on in every fight and wants us to too. It pays off. The bloodthirsty crowd at the world premiere cheered for every broken bone, every face smashed into a wall, and every throat that’s slit.

Many will be turned off by the violence. But for those with a bad case of bloodlust, first- if you get the chance to catch a Midnight Madness screening at Tiff, take it. Second, see this movie. The adrenaline will stay with you all day.