HTS Moderator , Reviewer
Title: The Raid 2
HTS Overall Score:83
A sequel is almost never as good as its predecessor. That is just a stereotype of film making as most of the creative ideas have gone into the creation of the first movie. So to make up for it, most sequels have to amp up everything, the action, the language, the comedy, you name it, in an effort to outdo the first one. Very rarely do you see a film that not only is better than its predecessor, but by a very large margin in what I like to call “Godfather II syndrome”. I really liked Gareth Evan’s “The Raid” a few years ago. It was a great little action movie that was self-contained inside of a tall building with minimal sets and just non-stop action. While it was hailed as the greatest action movie of the year by many, I felt it was a bit underwhelming. Sure, the action was crazy, the stunts were unbelievable and I really ended up enjoying it a lot, but I just felt a little underwhelmed compared to the hype machine behind it. When I heard the non-stop gushing by fans when “The Raid 2” hit limited theatrical release, I wrote it off as more fan hype that would surely let me down. I was literally FLOORED when I started watching “The Raid 2”, as it takes what made the first one good and just expanded on it. It’s like Gareth Evans decided to take “The Raid”, mix it with a huge dash of “Kill Bill” and heavy doses of “Infernal Affairs/The Departed” and what poured out was simply amazing. I remember during the first act I was well prepared to give the film a 4/5 rating, it was a lot of fun. By the second act I had pushed it to 4.5/5 and thought it couldn’t get any better. When the third act of destruction rolled around I had to literally keep my chin off of the floor and had upgraded it to a very firm 5/5. As action movies come, especially Asian martial arts action movies, this is about as good as it gets.
If you haven’t seen Peter Rygiel’s review of “The Raid” you should check it out in our database, as it covers much of the backstory of our hero Rama. Rama (Iko Uwais) is back in deep with an even worse assignment than raiding a gangster’s hideout. His brother from the first movie has been murdered by a gangster by the name of Bejo (Alex Abbad), an up and coming crime figure in Indonesia and now Rama wants revenge. He’s about to get that revenge in the form of a special undercover unit which assigns him to get in deep with the local Indonesian mafia, ruled by a kingpin named Bangun (Tio Pakusodewo) and his corrupt son Uco (Arifan Putra). There he is to get close and find out the dirty cops that have been supplying these gangsters with aid and protection all these years. Basically an external mole hunt. Rama thinks he’s about to go in for a few months and find out who’s causing the problems, but life doesn’t happen that way, as he’s sentenced to 3 years in prison. In prison he’s able to befriend Uco and ingratiates himself with the boy. Once out he’s now firmly in with the Indonesian mob, where he takes a job as Uco’s bodyguard.
This is where things get dicey. Once inside Rama has to do things that he’s not proud of. Collect debts, take out rival gang members, the whole nine yards. After a time he wants out, but his superiors refuse to pull him out and it comes down to Rama’s wits and training to keep him alive. As Rama wants out, Ico wants to get in deeper and resents his father for not handing him more responsibility in the mob. Teaming up with Bejo, the two stage a coup de tat and take over his father’s organization, but mobsters are trick and Bejo has his own machinations that are going on behind the scene. This leaves Rama with no choice but to end this once and for all. He knows he’s never getting out of the sting operation unless there are no more criminals to watch over, so he must reign unholy terror down upon Bejo, Uco and every dirty cop in his way to finish this once and for all.
“The Raid 2” does what very sequels do and that is outclass the original with style. Instead of being content with another action movie that is there to showcase great martial arts, Gareth Evans crafts a story that teems with intelligence as well as incredible action scenes and poetry painted in blood. The gangster plotline is beautiful, pitting Rama against foes that are just as clever himself and if he’s ever caught can expect no help from the outside. He finds himself caught in the crosshairs as his superiors force him to stay in a torturous situation in order to get intel and living in fear of the gangsters he’s supposedly “friends” with. The story isn’t just a copycat of other undercover assignment stories, but rather revels in the unique experiences and personalities of the Indonesian culture and the mob life that dominates that area. I honestly tried to pick apart the storyline, but found that it held up VERY well under scrutiny, showing great detail and attention to all those little things found in great gangster films.
The action is beyond intense. The first movie had great martial arts fights, and the action was good, but this one just took the first one as a template and moved on to bigger and better things with enormously detailed fights both on the small and large scale. Rama mows through bad guys in ways that defies our imagination and all of my friends watching with me were all saying the same things. “oh my goodness! did he just do that!?”, “moo cow!!!!” and “OWWWWWWWWWWW that had to HURT!!!”. The adrenalize that flowed through this movie is simply legendary as I felt as if I’d been through a 2.5 hour battle myself by the time it ended. My heart was racing, my pulse was up and I was completely exhilarated. I couldn’t believe the amount of action and the pace that the film kept up. It never felt boring, never felt slow for a 2.5 hour film and didn’t just have non-stop action scenes. While there is PLENTY of bloody, over the top action, there is a lot of depth in the story to go through and it was well balanced out so that every time there was a lull an action scene was not far behind and even though there was plenty of action it didn’t feel like one long blur of mindless violence like some action movie can do.
Rama is still the same character from the first movie, but he’s matured a bit and has a bit of a harder edge to his attitude. He’s no longer the naïve police boy, and after this one he’s no longer naïve in any ways as he’s pitted against the worst of the worst. You may Yayan Ruhian, who played Mad Dog from the first film, playing a different minor character in the film. For those who’ve seen the first one, don’t worry, his action scene is worth the price of admission alone. Not only are there some oldies, but the addition to two new hit men. Hammer Girl and Baseball Bat Boy. Both of them are lethal with some more non-conventional weaponry out there and their scenes are ones you’re going to want to rewind again and again. We have the standard “boss” fight which is what I like to call the “vanity” fight. The fights up to this point were short and brutal, finishing villains in record time, but here we have that long, drawn out classic martial villain fight where the martial art of Silat is stylized and really shown off to the audience. As a whole, the movie was just an epic martial arts gangster movie and something that really took me by surprise. I knew it was going to be good, but I didn’t realize just HOW good it was going to be.
Rated R for sequences of strong bloody violence throughout, sexuality and language
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=21826[/img]“The Raid” was known for its mediocre presentation, which was a mixed result of the cheap budget and the drab color tones that was given to the movie. “The Raid 2” is a definite improvement to the first one, but it’s still going to not be a demo disc for the same reasons as the first. The film got an increased budget and it really shows, with more clarity and more set pieces that allow for better lighting. Detail is very strong, especially in the bright scenes and will not disappoint. The colors are still rather muted and drab, a distinctive stylistic choice which mirrors the first one. There is more color in “The Raid 2”, but not by a wild margin, as the film still has a lot of those grey saturated scenes. The dark scenes are the ones that suffer the most as the blacks just are a bit too drab and washed out to be a perfect 5/5. There are some scenes that have excellent blacks, but the stylistic filming choices keeps it from being a stunner. It’s still quite a decent image and won’t detract from the viewing experience at all.
[img]http://www.hometheatershack.com/gallery/file.php?n=21834[/img]The 5.1 DTS-HD MA track in both Indonesian/Bahasa and English are both quite decent; nothing to write home about, but very decent. The film has a few of the same flaws that its predecessor did, which mainly consist of a lack of immersiveness as well as some dialogue problems. Most of the time the dialogue is quite good, but sometimes the whispers get a bit TOO quiet and the voices needed a bit of boosting. LFE is solid, but nothing that’s going to blast your pants off. The added weight to the track is nice and it lends itself to the punches and kicks quite nicely, but with the car chase and some of the gun fights I had wished there was a bit more punch. The surrounds are used decently, but there is a bit of a flat element to it as well, which robs it of some of that “wow” factor. Don’t get me wrong, the track is quite capable and does its job well, but it just doesn’t go that extra mile that makes you want to shatter walls.
• Director's Commentary
• The Next Chapter: Shooting a Sequel
• Q & A with Gareth Evans, Iko Uwais, and Joe Trapanese
• Gang War Deleted Scene
• Ready for a Fight on Location
• A Violent Ballet, the Choreography
“The Raid 2” is “The Godfather II” for its genre. It took what was good about its predecessor and made it legendary. I can’t tell you how much fun I had seeing this poetry painted in blood. It has action, it has drama, it has intrigue and betrayal. Blood flows from all corners of the film and the martial arts are even more brutally realistic and to the point. While it may not be a literal “Citizen Kane” it is probably THE most impressive Asian Martial Arts film I’ve seen in a VERY VERY long time. It’s video and audio scores are noticeably better than the first film, which is much appreciated and the extras quite substantial. For fans of the first one this a MUST BUY under any circumstances. For people who love Tarantino style action in martial arts you need to at least check it out. It is THAT good.
Starring: Iko Uwais, Julie Estelle, Yayan Ruhian, Arifin Putra
Directed by: Gareth Evans
Written by: Gareth Evans
Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1 AVC
Audio: Indonesian/Bahasa DTS-HD MA 5.1, English DTS-HD MA 5.1, Spanish DD 5.1
Blu-ray Release Date: July 8th, 2014
Buy The Raid 2 Blu-ray on Amazon
Recommendation: Must Watch
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