Director: Gareth Evans
Stars: Iko Uwais, Yayan Ruhian, Arifin Putra
Action has reached a new standard… And it’s bloody high!
The Raid 2 is quite simply one of the greatest action films ever made. In fact, if someone said to me that The Raid 2 is THE greatest action film ever made, I wouldn’t argue with them. It completely blows the first Raid out of the water and somewhere into the stratosphere. In fact, Gareth Evans has swung a huge bloody baseball bat and knocked The Raid into oblivion. And I loved The Raid. When most sequels come out (mostly rubbish ones) there’s usually a tagline saying, “twice as funny” or “twice as thrilling” and if The Raid 2’s tagline was something along those lines it would still be a lie, because The Raid 2 is ten times better than the first Raid in just about every way that’s possible. Better story, better directing, better characters, better writing, better action, better choreography and the list goes on… The Raid 2 is the best sequel since The Dark Knight.
It does what every good sequel (e.g. Terminator 2, The Godfather Part II) does and doesn’t simply tell the same story with a bigger budget like most sequels, but creates a brand new story which improves upon the original’s that makes it a standalone film and not just “the second one”. One of the few complaints I had for The Raid was that it had a thin plot, yet it showed positive signs of character development, which could’ve improved the film if Gareth tried to focus on that more. Here, the plot comes first and quite rightly so in my opinion. The Raid 2 is incredibly tightly plotted with rich characters who you’ll care about and thus, making the action that much more thrilling. Oh, and talking of the action.
The action in The Raid 2 is nothing short of astounding. In my opinion it beats the action sequences in the first on, thanks to the terrific and memorable set-pieces which Gareth Evans creates. These are some of the best action sequences I have ever seen on film. The directing is even stronger here, as Gareth gets more creative with where he puts the camera and how he movies it. At one point the camera follows a man as he jumps through a window and it’s immense fun to watch. Instead of tight close-ups and frenetic editing (like in most Hollywood action movies) Gareth follows the action in longer takes and it’s all the more intense for it, as we can actually see what’s going on, as well as feel the carnage. And there is a lot of carnage.
I’d go as far to say that The Raid 2 is the most violent film I’ve ever seen. It has serious balls and it isn’t afraid to show ‘em! Some serious brutality is shown pretty relentlessly and it would probably be too much for most mainstream audiences, but for hardcore lovers of the cinematic macabre, then the experience is utter bliss. You’d expect to be desensitised after 150 minutes of brutality, but you don’t! Even at the all-action finale, you still feel every brutal hit and bone breakage. People are slammed with hammers and baseball bats, whilst others have their legs twisted and throats slit. What’s more incredible is the way Gareth shoots this carnage. It’s just shot in the most hypnotic and balletic way and is even reminiscent of John Woo’s, The Killer. The choreography is also outstanding.
But amongst this incredible action is a rich plot concerning the dark life of the mafia. Rama’s gone undercover and befriended the son of a seriously powerful boss. Every scene is full of tension as you Rama could get found out at any moment. Just like in The Godfather, I found myself being sucked into the lives of these fascinating criminals. In fact, some of the best scenes in The Raid 2 feature no action at all. Whether it’s intense discussions with mafia bosses, or a tension-fuelled encounter with some prostitutes, The Raid 2 has a brilliant and tightly wound screenplay which makes its 150 minute running time fly by.
The directing throughout is nothing short of masterful. It has the look of a crime classic, and there are some of the cinematography is just breath-taking. You feel the power of these people through every shot and every shot carries meaning. There is also some brilliant use of music. One of my favourite scenes is when Rama has been shown to his apartment by the power hungry son of the mafia boss he has befriended. Rama puts on loud, sinister music and phones the police chief to reveal his anger and fear. He then puts his finger in his ear to drown out the loud music as he phones his wife for the first time and the music changes to something softer and emotionally charged. It’s a powerful moment and is masterfully executed.
The finale is simply mesmerising. It harks back to the first film as it’s basically a series of unbelievably amazing fight scenes, only this time there’s a greater weight to them as they mean so much to the plot and characters in the film. I adored the intense battle with hammer girl and baseball boy, as well as the epic kitchen fight which feels like it’s going on forever. They make the Mad Dog fight at the end of the first film look like a warm-up exercise!
The Raid 2 is far more than a sequel needs to be. It’s much bigger and much better, which is saying a lot because the first film was absolutely brilliant. It takes a gigantic dinosaur-sized poo on mainstream action films which people seem to love like, Fast Five. This is how an action film is done. It’s also full of excellently realised characters and features an intelligent screenplay. The action is the best ever committed to film and even features probably the best car chase ever. I was overwhelmed with what I saw and I can’t wait to see it again. If The Raid 3 is any improvement on this, then it will end up being the greatest action film ever. Perhaps if Evans is given a gigantic budget, he could pull off a conclusion as epic as The Dark Knight Rises. We live in hope.