In 2012 Gareth Evans Indonesian martial-arts display The Raid captivated audiences with its relentless display of carefully crafted martial arts. The film delivered the goods that action fans were looking for, providing some of the most memorable action scenes crafted in recent memory.
With the sequel, The Raid 2, Evans returns with a much bigger film in almost every way. If anything, it’s a more expanded version of the first. While the first breezed by with a basic storyline that allowed the action to do most of the talking, The Raid 2 incorporates a much deeper story to go along with all the action.
Things pick up right where the first left off, where rookie cop Rama (Iko Uwais) is now offered a chance to go undercover in order to bring down a Jakarta crime family that is run by a boss named Bangun (Tio Pakusadewo). In order to get close to Bangun, Rama has to be thrown in prison in order to get in the good graces of Bangun’s son Uco (Arifin Putra). Rama is a bit over his head in this world, but as we know by now, he has a supreme advantage in combat, and that’s exactly what the film sets out to establish.
The Raid 2 has a deeper storyline, but don’t be fooled. This is a glorious action film that fully indulges in all of its delights. Clocking in at 150 minutes, it gives plenty of time to its lengthy fight scenes which all the same intensity of the first and some. Evans ups the anty in every which way. From the composition of the choreography of the fights, to their insane brutality. The faint of heart may want to take a few steps and realize what they are getting themselves into. There’s lots of damage done to many bodies here. I can go on and on listing how many cool sequences in the film left me picking up my jaw from the floor. Do your best to avoid knowing too much about the cool characters or sequences, as the surprise is half the fun here.
Evans does his best to create a stronger film plot wise, diving into many different territories of crime films. The story has its faults sure. The plot can get a bit muddy, and most of the bad guys have little no no development other than their supreme fighting skills. But when you’re spending 10-15 minutes at a time watching insane marital arts sequences, you just have to remind yourself to let your guard down a bit and just take it all in. When you have the master Iko Uwais doing his thing, you can easily forgive any of the films (few, and minor) shortcomings. There’s just too much that The Raid 2 gets right to nitpick.
At the SXSW screening every scene was heightened by an overly enthusiastic crowd that went nuts with every strike and kill. It surely made my viewing experience that much more fun. In a way, that’s what The Raid 2 is. A complete experience. When compared to American action films, it has no competition. It’s in a league of its own. I just hope you can find a packed theater with a bunch of friends and just take all the glorious fun in the right way. If your not shooting your fair shares of “oohs”, “ahhs”, and “ow’s”, you’re not doing it right. It’s without a doubt, one of the best action films you will ever see.