THE RAID 2 (2014)
The Raid was a vicious and high intensity Indonesian action thriller about a squad of cops who raid a drug dealer controlled tenement building and become trapped inside, fighting tooth and nail to get out alive. The film, which I referred to as a “Shaw Brothers movie on crack… and lot’s of it.” was brutally violent, but had a ferocious energy in it’s action scenes and became a hit and a sensation with movie fans. Director/writer Gareth Evans now returns with a sequel that finds surviving cop Rama (Iko Uwais) on a solo mission that may turn into a suicide mission as well.
The film picks up where the first one left off with Rama being asked by a clandestine police unit to go undercover in a mob family to weed out corrupt police officers, including corrupt police commissioner Reza (Roy Marten), who are hindering the efforts of bringing down mob boss Bangun (Tio Pakusadewo). This means spending two years in prison as ‘Yuda’ a small time thug, to get close to Bangun’s imprisoned son Uco (Arifin Putra) who he befriends and goes to work for upon release. Now deep undercover in Bangun’s organization Rama/Yuda get’s more then he bargained for as Uco and a sadistic gangster named Bejo (Alex Abbad) plan a power coup that not only endanger Rama’s mission, but put him in the middle of a bloody internal mob war as well.
I liked this sequel, but not quite as much as I did the previous flick. Sure the film is filled with the hyper-active, savagely violent action sequences that this series is renown for, but at 150 minutes long, these sequences of video game style violence wear you out long before it’s over…though the climactic fight between Rama and an assassin (Cecep Arif Rahman) in a kitchen is something to behold. Action scenes aside, the plot is basically a routine ‘cop under deep cover’ crime drama and without all the crazy kinetic action, the film would be rather unremarkable story wise. When it comes to the cop undercover elements, we’ve seen it all before, from the yearning for missed loved ones to the blurred lines of loyalty. But Evans keeps things moving and while it doesn’t have quite the lasting intensity as the original flick, it still has some ballistic fights filled with Evans’ furiously moving camera. He gives a lot of energy to the largely hand to hand combat scenes with a mix of dazzling choreography, dizzying camera work and over the top blood spattering. It is effective though, as stated before, it wears you down after a while. His story does give you moments to breath, though not for too long, but there are only so many smashed faces and so much spurting blood one can take before it starts to lose it’s effect. A scene in a subway car with a vicious female assassin (Julie Estelle) wielding two hammers against a squad of Japanese bodyguards is both impressive and mind-numbing at the same time. The brutality just catches up to you long before the last act. Evans does gives us quite the last act, though and despite being numb at this point to all the violence, I will admit that Rama’s infiltration of Bejo’s stronghold held some really amazing fight scenes that did manage to wake me up out of that brutality induced stupor. The previously mentioned kitchen fight is a classic and Rama’s battle with assassins Hammer Girl (Estelle) and Baseball Bat Man (Very Tri Yulisman) is not too far behind. Despite a familiar and often used plot and a little too much brutality and bloodshed, Evans overall gives us a sequel that is different, yet still delivers the action we expect…even if he goes overboard with the savagery of it all.
The cast are all good with Uwais being not only a noble and very likable hero, but an equally effective human chainsaw with his hands and feet. Putra is solid as Uco, a character that is frustrated by his father’s refusal to give him more responsibility in the organization and is so blinded by his ambition as to trust the slimy Bejo who is also effectively played with malice by Alex Abbad. Tio Pakusadewo is also good and almost likable as old fashioned mob boss Bangun who still operates within a code that many see as outdated. Roy Marten is seen briefly, but effectively as dirty police commissioner Reza. Rahman, Estelle and Yulisman make for some very eccentric and lethal assassins that provide some the film’s most vicious and impressive fight scenes. A good cast that helps give some depth to all the over the top action and keep up well with the frantic choreography.
In conclusion, I liked Gareth Evans’ sequel to his ultra violent hit, though I did feel it fell a little short due to a really long running time and being bludgeoned somewhat by all the savage and gory violence. Still, despite a routine story, there are some truly impressive fight/action sequences, including a climactic kitchen fight that is an instant classic. If you liked The Raid then you’ll surely enjoy this but, how much is up to you.