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Calculated publicity stunt, or a legitimate reaction to a brutal action flick? You decide.

Gareth Evans’ bloody – and, from what we’re hearing, bloody good – sequel The Raid 2: Berandal had its premiere Tuesday evening at the Sundance Film Festival. And if you bothered to sit through Evans’ first Raid, you know that the follow-up promises bone-crunching (literally), blood-spurting fight choreography and on-screen kills. Yet The Wrap reports that the premiere screening had to be delayed five minutes as an audience member "fell ill," causing employees of the Eccles Theater in Park City, Utah to call paramedics.

Did this guy not watch yesterday’s amazing trailer?

The story calls to mind all of those faintings at screenings of Danny Boyle’s 127 Hours, where audience members hit the ground at the moment where James Franco severed his trapped limb. Fox Searchlight never copped to the fact that plants were being placed in theaters to pass out, generating headlines. But I remain suspicious.

Maybe The Raid 2 is faint-inducing. Maybe Evans pushed the envelope so far, audience members with weak stomachs won’t be able to tolerate the on-screen violence. The Wrap said that the man was able to regain consciousness and leave the theater under his own power. But Jordan Hoffman, in his ScreenCrush review, admitted that he left the screening because of the violence. He writes:
The violence in this unrated cut is so relentless, so absolutely brutal, that I just couldn’t take anymore. The snapped bones, shattered skulls and spraying blood walked up to the line and ripped it apart with the back of a hammer. While athletically and technically impressive, the final fights in ‘The Raid 2′ are so unpleasant that I realized that if I didn’t race out of my seat, I may have vomited in the theater."

That’s rough. Evans is using the event as a way to help promote the film. Smart, smart man. While in Sundance, he told The Wrap:
See it before the MPAA has a heart attack."

Evans has to know that violence doesn’t phase the MPAA. Vicious, gory, brutal and bloody movies can surf by with an R rating, but nudity usually equates to an instant NC-17. Just ask Lars von Trier. But headlines and stories like this are only going to drive up interest in Evans’ follow up to The Raid. Just don’t be surprised by what he appears to have splattered across the screen, because the first movie was vicious enough, and sequels traditionally up the ante. Berandal will be in select theaters on March 28.
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