The Raid 2 (2014)

Posted in Reviews by - May 01, 2014
The Raid 2 (2014)

Gareth Evans’ expansive, delirious and captivating sequel to The Raid: Redemption is undoubtedly one of the best fight films of modern times. Instead of simply rehashing the unique gimmicks and quirks which made the first film such a contained and vibrant masterpiece, this broadens the scope to involve an epic Godfather-style family feud at the heart of two warring crime dynasties, a young man’s lust for power, a prison drama and an undercover cop movie. The full agenda impacts on the running time – checking in at something close to two and a half hours – but the story is told with great confidence, poise and focus. And that’s before you consider all those blistering, exhausting, wince-inducing fight scenes.

Iko Uwais does a brilliant job at rising to the dramatic challenge of adding depth to Rama’s character. He has only just survived the damn tower block ordeal and now here he is being recruited by the police to snoop out more bent cops in the criminal underworld. He goes into prison undercover to befriend the young son of a crime lord (played by Arifin Putra), and two years pass until he is released, finding work as a hired heavy for the hoods. Rama is living with the emotional baggage of having to leave his wife and baby son as well as trying to avenge the death of his brother. Then there is his professional conduct which is constantly challenged as the boss’ son starts making a scurrilous bid for power, siding with the family’s Japanese rivals.

This absorbing story unfolds in a sea of absolute carnage. Evans – now free from the constraints of a tower block to take on new surroundings, characters and weapons – goes all out and creates a free flowing, wild and outrageously violent series of set pieces. The distinctive silat style still works in an aggressive contemporary setting, with Evans adapting the system to incorporate new and grisly ways of putting fresh holes into people; namely using (at various times) baseball bats, machetes, scalpels, hammers, broken glass, wine bottles and mini scythes. This is Jackie Chan meets Hostel with torturous levels of blood letting. But the fluid choreography highlights the beauty in movement and the skill of the performers.

There is a sprawling mud fight in a prison courtyard where guards and inmates pummel into each other among the mess, and Evans’ first attempt at filming a car chase which inevitably involves bodies flying through car windscreens and intricate kung fu fighting taking place on the backseats of moving vehicles. The hammers belong to Hammer Girl (Julie Estelle), a mute female assassin which is the closest nod to Tarantino in the film, whereas Iko Uwais gets to do his version of the one-man-army charge scene from Tony Jaa‘s Warrior King, where he storms a warehouse and single-handedly smashes his way through an orderly line of stuntmen, before taking on Cecep Arif Rahman in a stunning extended bout of traditional silat within the hazardous confines of a commercial kitchen. Here, blood is spilled to Shogun Assassin levels, staining the sterilised floor in probably the film’s best fight scene. But then again, there are a lot to choose from.

Everything works, from the involving narrative to the wild action sequences, and the performances are all excellent. The film cements Evans and his crew as a genuine film-making force full of fearless invention and talent. It’s an absolute jaw dropper.

AKA: BerandalThe Raid 2: Berandal

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