“Well find him and kill him!”
“Sir… he’s here… he’s coming up…”
Oh yes. The Raid 2 is here. And it wants to punch you in the face with its brilliance.
A small budget Indonesian martial arts action film was quietly released back in 2011 entitled The Raid. Without much fanfare or pre-publicity, The Raid quickly generated a strong followed and appreciation as people began to sit up and notice writer and director by Gareth Evans as well as lead hero Iko Uwais. And it thoroughly deserved every accolade that came its way. A jaw dropping film that looked at the action rule book, laughed at it and promptly cut it up with a machete. The set up was simple yet effective: A big tower block, bad guys at top, cops at bottom, cops fight their way to the top. This resulted in tight corridor fights as Uwais - playing young cop Rama - fought his way through an ever increasing horde of angry criminals.
"It really isn't over yet!"
The Raid 2 picks up hours after The Raid finishes as Rama is persuaded to go undercover and infiltrate the ranks of a ruthless Jakarta crime syndicate in order to protect his family and to uncover the corruption in his own police force. If the Raid set up to tell a simple story, The Raid 2 is the Godfather 2 of action films in comparison. Soon Rama is locked up in prison for years, doing naughty things to move up the crime chain and possibly losing the humanity that made him such a likeable lead - even as he was happily stabbing people. What follows is a sprawling epic of multiple characters, multiple plots and multiple fights as various factions fight to get to the top. In the middle of all of it Rama has to fight… a lot.
And fighting is really why everyone will go see The Raid 2. Indeed, if there is a film released this year (or in fact the next 5 years) that makes you go ‘ah’, ‘oh’, ’wow’, ’cor’, ’S**t!’ as much as the Raid 2 then I will happily let you roundhouse kick me in the face. The wince factor is turned up to 11 as action scenes take place that are so creative and brilliant that you haven’t even dreamed that something as impressive as this could make its way onto cinema screens. Just as you think that they can’t do any more, The Raid 2 throws in a fight scene - in a car - during a chase sequence. Or maybe the baseball bat swinging (and a very good shot with a baseball) assassin, along with his dual hammer wielding sister will be the bit that impress you. If not, perhaps the extensive fight sequence in a kitchen between two master fighters that involves every kitchen utensil you can imagine will get the blood pumping… or maybe the humungous prison sequence in a pit of mud, or the nightclub fight, or the warehouse brawl or the… well - you get the idea.
"new cult classic status confirmed"
This is by far a one trick pony though. Expanding out to a city allows Evan’s to create some stunning shots in beautiful juxtaposition to the hyper violence. A stunning snow scene that is suddenly impacted by violence, the slow motion shots of mud sloshing into the air as bodies fall into it, a slow linger on a baseball bat before it gets to work hurting people… The Raid 2 isn’t just a fantastic action film, it looks great too. Evans finds the beauty and poetry in amongst the bone cracking, and The Raid 2 is a richer film because of it.
One gripe would be that The Raid 2 does end up feeling rather long. The first Raid came in at just over a tight hour and a half, whereas Raid 2 comes up at a good 40 minutes longer. Much of that time is given to a subplot involving a character not overly important to the story and to talky scenes about gangster politics. Whilst not bad, they do occasionally sap the high energy that the rest of the film creates. Not a criticism as such, but when the pace is so dynamic, any slow down is noticeable.
The problem is, however, that watching The Raid 2 will damage you. You wont watch a generic Hollywood action film in the same way again. Watching Stallone, Willis, and the rest of the geriaction collective slowly amble their way around CGI sets quipping worse and worse one-liners as they lazily dispatch mindless goons with a gun in the one hand and a fat pay check in the other, wont fulfil that deep emptiness that The Raid 2 leaves you with. The desire to be entertained in the same way again will be big, and it’s a desire that I expect will only be filled by The Raid 3…
If you’ve not seen The Raid or the The Raid 2, I envy the first time marvel and experience you will have. Just promise that you won’t try it at home…
Out of a potential 5 you have to go with a Darkmatters:
(5 - The Raid 2 is full five stars of crime action excellence)
Awesomeness ööööö – crunching violence that looks superb!
Laughs öööö – lots of dark comic fun
Horror öö – limited grimness
Babes ööö – Mélanie Thierry is smokin hot
Spiritual Enlightenment ööö - life might just mean something after all...
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