Crimson Rivers 2: Angels of the Apocalypse
(Les Rivières Pourpres 2: Les anges de l'apocalypse)

foreign films

Crimson Rivers 2: Angels of the Apocalypse (Les Rivières Pourpres 2: Les anges de l'apocalypse)
Made in: France
Language: French
Director: Olivier Dahan
Starring: Jean Reno, Benoît Magimel, Camille Natta, Christopher Lee
Year: 2004

Synopsis: Jean Reno reprises his role as police inspector Pierre Niemans, and he's sent to Lorraine, near the German border. This time he's investigating a gruesome murder that took place at a creepy monastery where it's always dark and stormy. The victim is found buried within a monastery wall, and was crucified alive.

At the same time, young police captain Reda (Benoît Magimel) is returning from a drug bust. While going back to the police station, he nearly runs over a confused guy who's dressed like Jesus (and is even named Jesus).

As Jesus is recovering in the hospital due to a gunshot wound, Reda happens across a robed monk who looks like the ghost of Christmas Future. But instead of encouraging goodwill towards all, this robed figure is more interested in killing the Jesus look-alike!

Reda intervenes before the monk can succeed, then an intense chase follows. Strangely enough, this monk is somehow well-versed in the art of parkour and seems to have superhuman strength. After leaping from rooftops and doing backflips off buildings, it's amazing how the monk's hood stays on.

Soon Reda and Niemans meet up, and are joined by Marie (Camille Natta), an expert in religious history. More grisly ritual homicides start occurring in the area, with each of the victims bearing the name of Christ's apostles. And yes, one of them was also named Judas.

All of this points to something sinister in the monastery, and is apparently masterminded by Heinrich von Garten (Christopher Lee), the German Minister of Culture and Religion. As the body count increases and the evil super-monks wreak havoc, our three heroes discover that Von Garten is after a sacred seal (the Biblical kind, not the kind you find at the aquarium) that will unleash the apocalypse.

The Good: Crimson Rivers 2, written by Luc Besson, has a pretty interesting build-up. The mystery is very compelling at first, and like the original, it's fun to watch the two seemingly unrelated mysteries converge as we anticipate the meeting between Niemans and Reda.

The action scenes are pretty creative, and there are a few intense thrills that match that of anything coming from Hollywood these days. At times there's an X-Files meets Indiana Jones sort of feel that helps give this movie some solid entertainment value.

Jean Reno, as usual, is fun to watch as well, and Christopher Lee, who must have done this film in between Star Wars prequels, plays a convincing villain.

The bad: However, Crimson Rivers 2 has some pretty serious flaws. First off, the Jesus character and his "12 disciples" was sort of a hokey device. Camille Natta's character was underused, and much of the mystery gets solved too quickly.

What bothered me most, though, were the murderous monks. They went around dressed like the Ghost of Christmas Future in broad daylight, committed murders, and we're supposed to believe that no one found their presence to be suspicious? Laughably implausible was a scene when several monks sneak into a grocery store to kill someone.

Somehow the other customers seem completely oblivious to the fact that there are about 4 or 5 guys, each dressed like the grim reaper, walking around wielding knives. And not once do those bulky robes get snagged on anything.

Who would like this movie: Crimson Rivers 2 is a straightforward crime thriller which proves that foreign films can be on par with the kinds of action movies you've seen Hollywood produce.

Unfortunately, this movie is pretty mediocre despite great effort from Jean Reno and the rest of the cast. Although entertaining overall, not enough of the story elements gel, and there are a few too many plot holes.

(2 and 1/2 out of 4 stars)

Review written by: Joe Yang

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