As is true with much of the fan base, I stumbled across Boondock Saints in college. My fraternity regularly had 'Boondock Saints' night as part of our on-record social activities. Since my experience with the first movie generated interest in the second, I'll briefly address the appeal of the first.
The McManus brothers as regular dudes turned vigilante was an ideologically attractive premise. I loved the psychological balance between their God complex and normalcy. Smecker lent complexity and panache, Rocco lent ingenuous joie de vive. Listening to Troy's audio commentary helped me appreciate camera style and editing choices that set the look on edge. Actively addressing the question of whether or not this vigilantism is moral gave the film conversation-stimulating controversy. Guns, vendettas, and moral dichotomy... what's not to love?
And now for "All Saint's Day." The fact is, I would put the two movies in different genres. For this reason, after rolling things around a bit with friends and in my own head, I feel they are best examined separately. Boondock II took a wholly different approach, the action/thriller stance simplifying the McManus brothers and placing emphasis on the twisting and thickening plot. Such films can rarely pull off soul-searching without becoming cheesy and stilted, so I'm glad that wasn't attempted. It was nice to get some back story on how Noah ended up in prison throughout the childhood of his sons. I was a bit confused by the Rocco Epiphany after (someone's) death - the point seemed to change at least twice. Are we building an empire? Re-affirming the Saints' mission, despite necessary casualties? (probably the winner), Are Boston skyscrapers pretty? What defines masculinity, anyway? ... You kind of lost me. On the other end of the spectrum, the Chinese heroin scene was the first that told me "Yeah, I'm definitely watching Boondock Saints 2." Interaction between brothers and the brothers and Romeo were pure gold. I thought Boondock II kicked ass, pulled no punches, and rocked the action genre. New characters Eunice Bloom and Romeo were a joy, all the way. Having said that I feel that those who were attracted to the quirky, gruesome comedy of the first movie may, like Romeo and me, need "a period of adjustment."
My opinion: both movies stand on strong but completely different merits. I would see each one for different reasons.
I'll close by saying I am very grateful to everyone involved in mounting a second effort and bringing the fanship another fucktastically awesome film! I will do all I can to support it.