Director: Gareth Evans
Screenplay: Gareth Evans
Starring: Iko Uwais, Yayan Ruhian, Arifin Putra
Producers: Nate Bolotin, Ario Sagantoro, Aram Tertzakian
Running Time: 150 min
BBFC Certificate: 18
I don't often write reviews of cinema releases, but I wrote a brief review on Facebook which turned into a longer review on Letterboxd and it became long enough for me to justify posting it here. I wrote it quite quickly not long after watching it, so it's probably not my finest piece of writing, but it gets my feelings across for this highly anticipated title.
I was so excited to see this after loving the first film and salivating over the trailers and mounting buzz surrounding its sequel. Whilst many have been craving the films leading up to the next Avengers instalment or discovering what's next for Spiderman or the X-Men, I've only had one sequel on my mind over the last year or two and that was The Raid 2. Luckily it didn't disappoint.
As a full film 'package' if you will, it's not quite as perfectly formed as The Raid. A very different beast from it's predecessor, The Raid 2 swaps an ultra-minimal narrative for a relatively epic drama seeing Rama infiltrate a criminal underworld of feuding gangs and a dangerously strained mob boss father and son relationship. Gareth Evans' script unfortunately isn't strong enough to make this a particularly original or enthralling story, but he's aware enough of his audience and strengths as a director to never dwell on sentiment or over complicate the strands. Instead the narrative is used largely just to add drama to the fight scenes - functional perhaps, but effectively so. The film admittedly feels a little long and there was one side thread about an assassin's private life which felt unnecessary, but generally there's enough to the plot to hold your interest and the action is paced perfectly throughout, keeping fans of the first film from getting fidgety.
And speaking of the action, this of course is where the film truly excels. Mixing hand to hand combat with gunplay, a hell of a lot of knifing, and bludgeonings from a mixture of blunt objects and household implements, the fight scenes are breathtakingly presented and stupendously violent. The choreography is wonderfully varied (as are the settings of each fight) and incredibly visceral. You really feel every strike and slash. We're not enjoying the graceful ballet of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon here, we're watching people try their hardest to kill each other and we see the blood in full flow. Plus there's an awesome car chase thrown in for good measure and I love a good car chase...
As a 'crime saga' it ain't The Godfather, but as an action film The Raid 2 is staggeringly good and up there with the best. Evans boldly expands the scope, but never loses focus on what works best, delivering another no nonsense action classic. And my God is it violent. I'll never look at hammers the same way again.