I had no idea how fragile the human body really was until I saw The Raid 2 … honestly no idea.
Over the course of its two and a half hours though; I was thoroughly educated to say the least. Director Gareth Evans and star Iko Uwais are back after the success of their partnership on The Raid with the sequel picking up almost right where its predecessor left off. While the first film was a close-quarters combat grinder brawl fest, this sequel has in many ways expanded itself. Given the success of the first film we can only assume Evans has earned a lot more freedom in how he got to shoot this sequel. The Raid 2 boasts a broader timeline, a bigger cast, and yes, more violence, so much more violence. Some might even argue it’s too violent, but more on that later.
So the plot is as follows, not too long after the events of The Raid, Rama (Iko Uwais) having barely recovered from his earlier exploits, is approached by a squad of “trustworthy” cops to go undercover into an absolute hellhole of a prison (for four frickin’ years!) and work to befriend and earn the trust of Uco (Arifin Putra), son of the local kingpin of crime Bangun (Tio Pakusodewo). Off to a rocky start the pair eventually become bros and Rama (who now goes by Yuda) is brought to meet Bangun upon his release from prison. One very awkward strip-tease/search later and Rama is brought into the fold as an enforcer for Uco and Bangun’s crime family. From here I’ll say no more on the story though.
This is where the film truly starts to branch out and expand itself in many directions. Sub-plots are introduced with new characters getting their own back-stories ushered into place, such as a trio of crazy assassins whom I dubbed Hammer-lady, Baseball Bat-Man and Pick-Axe Guy. If those names don’t tell you all you need to know I don’t know how else to explain it to you. Then there’s Koso, the homeless looking Jason Voorhees of the film and close personal friend of the family. And let’s not forget Bejo (Alex Abbad) aka Mr. Slick, cane in hand and noisy leather gloves and shades on throughout the entire film.
Admittedly the plot loses its way for a time while trying to juggle the many characters and plot threads as Evans is weaving towards the climax of the film. While new characters get their shine, so to do the key players in our film. The father son relationship of Bangun and Uco is fleshed out in greater detail. Arifin Putra portrays Uco as an entitled spoiled brat used to getting his own way and rabid as a mad dog whenever he doesn’t. He’s sick of riding through life on his father’s coat tails and is far too eager to make a name for himself and earn his father’s trust, while Bangun just doesn’t seem to think Uco’s ready and probably never will be. It’s a Norman Vs Harry Osborn dynamic with poor Rama as their Peter Parker just caught in the middle.
But don’t worry though as this is a very minor problem. Whenever you feel the narrative waning … BAM! Action scene. The action scenes in this film are astounding and will knock you right on your ass. They’re violent, gore fuelled and strangely beautiful. There’s a particular fight scene early on in the prison yard that honestly looks like Normandy Beach distilled down into 16 metres squared. Bones are broken, heads are caved in, throats are ripped out … and that’s just that one scene! I told you about the trio of assassins, Hammer lady: She pulls two clawed hammers out of her bag on a train! I may never go to B&Q again. Baseball-Bat Man launches baseballs at fools and actually makes them roll the ball back to him or else, and Pick-Axe Man? Well Pick-Axe Man is actually very proficient martial artist, but I did give him that nickname for a reason though. Honestly, these scenes as violent as they are, are astonishingly well created. The choreography of the combat feels like you’re watching a fast paced, high stakes form of ballet – one wrong move and your heads gone. Some will probably argue that it’s too violent or gory, but honestly it’s the backbone of the film. It somehow manages to go just far enough to appeal to that base level God of War style violence that’s just immensely satisfying on an almost shameful level.
You know what you’re going to see when you buy your tickets to The Raid 2.
[easyreview title=”The Arcade Verdict” cat1title=”Story” cat1detail=”Mostly a straight forward plot that loses its way a little with sub-plot distractions, but quickly gets back on track for the last act.” cat1rating=”7″ cat2title=”Acting” cat2detail=”Iko Uwais is brilliant and believable as Rama alongside Arifin Putra as the pampered whack-job Uco.” cat2rating=”8″ cat3title=”Action” cat3detail=”If I could give it 11 stars I would. Best Action film you’ll see this year.” cat3rating=”10″ overall=”true”]