In Review: The Raid 2

by Daniel Goodwin on 10/04/2014

The Raid 2

Gareth Evans’ original, excellent one-location crime battle ballet was never going to be an easy one to follow. But rather than taking the Die Hard route of re-housing the carnage in a different location, for the sequel Evans wisely expands The Raid’s Indonesian underworld, presenting characters only previously name-checked in the first film and hurling protagonist Rama (Iko Uwais) into a more complex narrative with greater, elaborate duress.

Set two hours after its predecessor, skull-pulping super cop Rama infiltrates a crime unit by posing as an inmate in a prison where the son of a mob boss (Ucok played by Arifin Putra) is doing time. Rama befriends Ucok and following his release two years later, is given a role in his father’s organisation. Whilst gathering evidence Rama links crime head Bangun (Tio Pakusodewo) to a rival underworld leader in an attempt to sink the two organizations as Bangun’s son crumbles under the frustration at not being able to rise in power through the syndicate.

Director Evans presents a profound visual dexterity, crafting spectacular action and fight sequences while retaining an elegance absent from most mainstream genre pictures. Rural scenes under charcoal skies are reminiscent of muted English countrysides and compliment the grubby urban browns of the inner city segments. Evans also incorporates rugged, handheld camerawork that, along with the tone, differs from the slickness of the first film and is clearly inspired by directors Takashi Miike, Takashi Kitano and Chan Wook Park.

Despite its ambitious scope, the plot is teeming with underdeveloped characters that slightly stall the story, while some of the slower dialogue-led scenes feel slammed in to bridge gaps between action sequences. But there is so much passion and energy behind the execution; the film’s set pieces are breathtakingly visceral with lashings of exaggerated punch-ups and gun fights. Performances are solid all round and even though the story feels fragmented, its emphasis on family drama counteracts the bloodshed with a welcome, non-maudlin sentimentality.

The Raid 2 is ambitious and a masterful, technical achievement that will hopefully make an impact on the UK box office, shaking Asian cinema loose from its art house associations and leaving these films ready to be embraced by mainstream audiences.

Daniel has awarded The Raid 2 four Torches of Truth 


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