More of the action you loved and more of the plot you tolerated in this sequel to the cult action film The Raid.
The Raid 2 (2014) is an Indonesian action crime flick directed and written by Gareth Evans. It stars Iko Uwais as Rama, the martial arts cop of The Raid as he deals with the consequences of the first film. After getting approached by police watchdog Bunawar (Cok Simbara) to go undercover in the Bangun crime family, Rama gets submerged more and more into the seedy gangster world of Jakarta as a gang war with the Goto family looms on the horizon.
What was a simple, straightforward story in The Raid: Redemption has now been blown out into a 150 minute crime epic with a massive cast and multiple subplots. Did it need to? Hell no. But considering the change in scale, its turned out surprisingly well. There’s some interesting characters, effective moments and an overall cohesive narrative – even though it sometimes feels like the plot is being bent out of shape to have a new action scene every 20 minutes. While Iko Uwais is little more than a badass undercover cop cut-out, many of the other characters fare much better – from Arifin Putra’s easily-despicable mob boss son to Cecep Arif Rahman’s unnamed assassin, much of the cast fares surprisingly well all things considered. Aside from missing a satisfying payoff and a few subplots that go nowhere, the writing and plotting concocted by Evans has emerged relatively unscathed by the growth period between this and the original.
But lets be honest here. No one watching The Raid gives a rats ass about the story. The only reason these films are revered are for one element alone: the action. And sweet christmas, this is bloody, brutal and ballistic balls-to-the-walls violent joy. Shot exceptionally well so that every stabbed neck and broken bone has full impact, Gareth Evans proves that the action in Redemption was no fluke as one brilliantly kinetic fight sequence after another takes the audience’s breath away again and again. From a massive 5 minute prison brawl to a mindbogglingly shot car chase, every scene hits with the brutal efficiency and violence of a semi truck. The choreography and cinematography is consistently impressive, and each scene is paced out well over the run time of the film so scarcely 20-30 minutes go past without the adrenaline kicking in at least once. Its damn impressive, and is the main (or even sole) reason The Raid 2 is worth seeing.
The film may be over-reaching, the lead protagonist may be bland and the plot may often feel like an arbitrary way to string together action sequences, but The Raid 2 still hits you in the gut as visceral action film-making should. Story faults aside, anyone looking to oogle at amazing choreography and cinematography for a couple of hours should definitely seek out this modern action cult classic.
General Audiences: Highly Recommended
Film Buffs: Recommended
Blockbusters: Highly Recommended