Immediately after the events of The Raid, Rama (Iko Uwais) finds himself drawn into an elaborate police plan, which will involve him going undercover to find and destroy those in the underworld responsible for his brother’s murder.
Back in 2012, not many people saw The Raid coming; Welshman Gareth Evans’ first major martial arts flick was a resounding hit with audiences and critics alike, but it was not the film that he actually wanted to make, not really. The Raid 2 is the film that Evans set out to make – before he scaled back the budget and brought us The Raid – and now that it’s here, it has a lot to live up to.
This time out, the story is much more personal for Rama, as he fights to save himself and uncover police corruption and collusion with the Indonesian underworld. The more complex story, which spans years, is both a welcome change to The Raid and The Raid 2’s greatest weakness. In trying to make the story bigger and wider there are times when Evans’ story almost collapses under the weight of numerous characters and multiple betrayals.
Iko Uwais has certainly grown as an actor since The Raid, and easily conveys the mood and motivations of his character. Arafin Putra brings the menace and unpredictability as Uco, Alex Abbad makes the evil Bejo just as slimy and corrupt as we could hope, and Julie Estelle and Very Tri Yulisman bring some comic relief – and tons of blood – and hench people Hammer Girl and Baseball Bat Man.
The fight scenes, as we may expect, are nothing short of breathtaking. Uwais and his opponents show off their speed, strength and skill throughout the movie, and the choreographed set pieces not only develop the characters, but also serve to remind us that Rama is truly fighting for his life here. Unlike The Raid, which took place in one building, The Raid 2 spans an entire city, so there are tons of great locations for epic and bloody fights to take place in; all of which are brutal, violent and utterly exhilarating.
It seems that Evans relished the change of setting, as the cinematography not only highlights colour – especially red – but also the scope of the battle that Rama is fighting. The car chase in particular, goes to show off the skill of Matt Flannery and Dimas Imam Subhono behind the camera, and many seamless shots give the audience the feel that we are racing along with these characters.
The Raid 2 is an incredibly worthy follow up to The Raid, and does the characters’ struggles and battles complete justice. The cinematography is gorgeous, the music soaring, and Evans’s nods to the films that inspired him are both subtle and graceful. That said, however, the sweeping scale of the film means that The Raid 2 lacks the beautiful simplicity of The Raid, and there are times when it is difficult to keep up with who has double crossed who. That said, if you like your martial arts movies epic and brutal, there is tons to love here. The Raid 3 can’t come quick enough.