Synopsis: Only a short time after the first raid, Rama goes undercover with the thugs of Jakarta and plans to bring down the syndicate and uncover the corruption within his police force.
Stars: Iko Uwais, Arifin Putra, Tio Pakusadewo, Oka Antara, Julie Estelle, Ryuhei Matsuda, Kenichi Endo, Kazuki Kitamura
Director: Gareth Evans
Running Length: 150 minutes
Trailer Review: Here
TMMM Score: (9/10)
Review: In my first year of reviewing movies for this blog, one of the standout films was most definitely The Raid: Redemption. Not only was it a rip-roaring muscle knuckle of an action film, it arrived in my field of vision without any previous warning. A thrilling ride following a good cop that finds himself trying to get to the top floor of a slum building to nab a bad guy and dealing with the violent residents on his way up, The Raid: Redemption was a take no prisoners kitchen sink sorta film that was deliriously violent and over-the-top but worked like a charm.
Normally, when a sequel is coming out I try to watch the films that preceded it but I didn’t quite have the time to do that before catching The Raid 2…and originally I thought I was in trouble. The first 10-15 minutes of the sequel had me grasping at characters to try and remember how they played into the first film and who was being newly introduced. I almost gave up and left (something I’ve never done) because I wasn’t sure how I was going to make it through the rest of the movie if I had no idea who was whom.
Thankfully, I stayed and the memories came back in the midst of some of the most jaw-dropping action sequences you’re likely to see and a plot so twisty that French braid aficionados and pretzel makers should take notes.
I’ve been referring to The Raid 2 at The Godfather Part II of Indonesian gangster films and the comparison isn’t that far off. Originally intended as the first film, director Gareth Evans had to make due with a smaller budget and found that his script that became The Raid: Redemption fit more into the budgetary constraints. When that film was a hit, it was no problem finding funding for this bigger, badder, meaner, bloodier, and overall totally different sequel which kicks its way to being awfully close to the top of my list for best films so far in 2014.
Picking up almost exactly where the first film left off but introducing new threads that happened concurrently, The Raid 2 as I mentioned before is counting on the audience being familiar with the original. Though it runs an incredible and not the least bit boring 150 minutes, Evans doesn’t have time to bring you up to speed because he’s got a ton of double crosses to make, throats to slit, and various bones/joints to break as he follows honest cop Rama (action star Iko Uwais making another strong impression) who infiltrates the same crime syndicate he went after in The Raid: Redemption.
It’s a bit of The Departed as Rama gets embroiled in the crime family from within, even as the family is fending off a rival syndicate that has its own set of spies working to obliterate their enemy. With various assassins employed to get the job done (with names like Hammer Girl and Baseball Bat Man), Rama has to keep his eyes open for backstabbers even though he’s operating on his own agenda.
Evans gives as much thought to the plot as he does to staging some grandly operatic fights. From a bone crunching prison fight in a muddy open air exercise area to the final showdown in a pristine white kitchen that soon is drenched in red I’m not sure if any of the punches, kicks, chops, and snaps are ever delivered the same way twice. It’s as if everything was filmed on fast forward with the camera swinging left-right-up-down to capture it all. Several times I was so stunned that I couldn’t help but let out a guffaw at the sheer boldness of it all.
As good an action flick as anything Hollywood has produced in the last decade, The Raid 2 becomes an instant classic in my book and a must see for fans of the genre and anyone that grew up watching Bruce Lee, Steven Seagal, and Jean-Claude Van Damme pics…it’s just a gloriously exciting film as rich in action as it is in crime drama.