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This image released by Sony Pictures Classics shows Iko Uwais as Rama (left), in a scene from The Raid 2. (AP)
Body count out of control in ‘Raid 2’ Gallner joins Cooper in ‘American Sniper’

LOS ANGELES, March 27, (Agencies): Leaving behind the original’s grungy Jakarta tenement setting for the luxurious hangouts of Indonesia’s organized crime overlords, “The Raid 2” pumps up its production values several notches. Even so, it’s easy to imagine that one of the biggest items on the budget might be the orthopedics bill, since this orgy of broken bones and vicious badassery makes its cult predecessor look like a peevish bitch-slap. Lining up bloody showdowns like the dizzying acts of a hyper-violent ballet, Gareth Evans’ sequel invites accusations of, ahem, overkill. But the fanboys will eat it up. There’s more of pretty much everything in this sequel. That means it sacrifices some of the purity of the first movie, which had its share of weaponry but was rendered exciting and distinctive primarily by its virtuoso assaults of lethal fists and feet on flesh.

Visceral in the extreme, the bravura martial arts mayhem still takes pride of place, choreographed again by lead actor Iko Uwais and Yayan Ruhian, who also appears, though as a different character from last time. But Evans expands the hardware beyond the usual guns and knives, giving some of his assassins their own special tools. Uwais returns as police officer Rama, but his bad-seed brother, Andi (Donny Alamsyah), isn’t so lucky. He gets iced in the opening minutes in a sugarcane field by Bejo (Alex Abbad), a half-Arab gangster looking to grow his territory. Bejo tells Andi that ambition and limitation don’t mix well in the underworld. That unfortunate combination applies to more than one criminal upstart here, Bejo included.

Demonstrating that the cops are almost as ruthless as the crooks, Rama is forced to go undercover in an anti-corruption task force, with the understanding that the safety of his wife and child depend on it. He’s cornered into doing prison time to get close to Ucok (Arifin Putra), the cocky son of old-school crime boss Bangun (Tio Pakusodewo), whose syndicate co-exists peacefully with that of his Japanese counterpart, Goto (Kenichi Endo).

Dispatching
In a great kickoff to the fight action, Rama gets Ucok’s attention by single-handedly dispatching the welcome committee with little more than a steel bathroom door. While the cop initially refuses overtures to join the mob scion’s gang, he steps in when Ucok’s life is threatened. The gritty squalor of the prison is the chief visual link with the grubby aesthetic of the first movie. It’s also the setting for a massive smackdown when all hell breaks loose in the muddy courtyard after a downpour. Rama shows his resourcefulness by making creative use of a broom handle, earning Ucok’s respect and loyalty. Cut to two years later, when Rama is ushered upon his release into Bangun’s employ. Nervous about keeping his identity under wraps, he receives little help or reassurance from his police supervisor. He proves his worth to Bangun, but the cop’s safety is jeopardized when Ucok starts rocking the boat, looking for advancement from his reluctant father. His dissatisfaction becomes known beyond the organization, bringing an offer from Bejo to team up and start a war between Bangun and Goto while honing in on their territory.

If the conflict between brothers was central to “The Raid,” the divide between father and son dominates this one. The characters are surprisingly well drawn for a movie so predominantly physical, and the lead actors all make vivid impressions. Alongside the broodingly charismatic fighting machine Uwais, Putra makes Ucok’s arrogant stupidity compelling (and what he does with a karaoke microphone is certainly a new tune), while Oka Antara brings quiet gravitas to Bangun’s trusted right-hand man, who harbors a secret. Evans gives the audience a knowing wink by having Rama endure repeated batterings that would leave mere mortals in traction, not to mention some nasty blade wounds. Yet he keeps coming back, finding the stamina to snap more limbs and crush more skulls. “The Raid 2,” a Sony Picture Classics release, is rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America for “sequences of strong bloody violence throughout, sexuality and language.” Running time: 148 minutes.

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LOS ANGELES:
Fresh off the hit Sundance movie “Dear White People,” Kyle Gallner has been cast alongside Bradley Cooper in Clint Eastwood’s “American Sniper,” TheWrap has learned. Eastwood is directing the Warner Bros./Village Roadshow war drama from a script by Jason Hall. Cooper is producing through his 22nd and Indiana banner, along with Eastwood, Robert Lorenz, Andrew Lazar and Peter Morgan. Village Roadshow Pictures is co-producing as well as co-financing with Warner Bros., whose Jon Berg will oversee the project for the studio. Production starts next month in Morocco. Cooper stars as decorated Navy SEAL Chris Kyle, who is credited with the most sniper kills in US military history.

Gallner will play Winston, an Arkansas native who earns the nickname “Goat” when his first kill in Iraq is an errant goat. Jake McDorman, Luke Grimes and Cory Hardrict will play Cooper’s comrades, while Sienna Miller will play his wife. The film is also expected to co-star several real-life Navy SEALs, including Kyle’s friend Kevin “Dauber” Lacz. Gallner will soon be seen in the well-received Sundance feature “Dear White People,” which was just picked up by Lionsgate and Roadside Attractions. He recently played Lou Reed in “CBGB” and co-starred in WB/Alcon’s “Beautiful Creatures.” Upcoming films include Courteney Cox’s “Just Before I Go” and the indie movie “Zen Dog.” Gallner is repped by UTA, 3 Arts Entertainment and attorney Stewart Brookman.

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