The Raid 2, directed by Gareth Evans (The Raid, V/H/S/2), is a sequel to the 2011 martial arts classic The Raid. Unlike most sequels, The Raid 2 manages to exceed both its predecessor and expectations.
The film starts directly after the events portrayed in The Raid (also a great film!). As a recap, rookie police officer Rama is a part of a SWAT team sent to raid an apartment complex stronghold. After their presence is made known, the apartment complex turns into hell on earth, as the landlord offers tenants free rent for life for anyone who brings him a police body. With all the exits barricaded, Rama and his squad members’ only option is to keep working towards the top of the complex in hopes of finding a way out. Upon reaching the landlord, Rama finds out that the Police Chief is in bed with the mob, and that shutting down this complex will do nothing.
At the start of The Raid 2, Rama and the other survivors are pulled straight out of the complex to an undisclosed building, where a man informs him that in order to take out the corruption in the police force, Rama has to go undercover into the heart of the various crime mobs controlling the city. Rama’s police records are wiped clean and he is sent to prison for hospitalizing a politician’s son. After befriending Uco (Arifin Putra), the son of one of the big three crime bosses, he moles his way into the seedy underbelly of the city. Power struggles between the gangs force Rama to choose between breaking his moral code to complete his mission or blowing his cover.
The action set pieces used in this film vary between beautiful and incredibly grungy. One particular fight scene in a prison yard on a very rainy day accentuates the sheer chaos of the brawl and the brutality of the inmates.
Another scene inside of a 5-star restaurant’s kitchen is clean and pristine, mirroring the mastery of the martial arts that the fighters are showcasing.
At 2 ½ hours long, this movie definitely has some pacing issues. Already being on the longer side for a martial arts movie, some of the plot exposition is done in less than efficient ways. The fight scenes, however, are good bridges between action and plotlines.
The camerawork in The Raid 2 does not fall into the common traps of martial arts movies; shaky cam and shortcuts are non-existent in this film. In fact, some very incredible shots are taken without the use of CGI and minimal editing (steadycam from shoulder-mounted/handheld cameras, etc.)
Another instance of quality martial arts filming is a particular fight with baseball bat man, in which single takes were used to do incredibly complex and flashy combos.
Iko Uwais is actually not a trained actor; he’s a Silat martial artist first and foremost, and was actually found by Evans while the director was filming a documentary on Silat. Uwais and another actor helped choreograph all of the fight scenes in both Raid films. Given his background, Uwais actually gives a decent performance, and helps the movie flow along nicely.
All in all, The Raid 2 was a movie that had me going back to the theatre for repeat viewings, taking more friends along with me each time. I would highly recommend this action- packed film if you and your friends want a great action film that will make you audibly react to each gruesome hit.
4 out of 5 stars.