The Raid 2 – Movie Review
The Raid 2 – R
Release Date: Fri 11 Apr 2014
The story I have heard behind The Raid 2’s production is that this was the movie that writer/director Gareth Evans originally wanted to make; An epic, deep crime thriller full of gorgeously choreographed and photographed martial arts. But there wasn’t budget to do it right, and so a prequel story was written with a smaller scope and scale with the style and vision still involved. Hence 2011’s The Raid: Redemption is a much smaller genre film with good story and action. As satisfying as it was, a sequel to that movie could have been a “going through the motions” style re-hash akin to Die Hard 2 changing the setting and little else from its original.
Knowing this is important so that one understands just how much greater The Raid 2 is. It’s the movie Evans wanted to make all along, and his vision is glorious. Set in Jakarta, Indonesia, the story picks up after the events of The Raid with Rama (Iko Uwais) reporting to his supervisor about the corrupt police action that led to the events of the first film. In order to root out this corruption, Rama agrees to go into deep cover by befriending the son of a crime syndicate boss in prison. There is an uneasy peace between the two-largest crime families in Jakarta that Rama’s contact is threatening to break with his ambition and growing disdain for his own father.
The lurid details of the criminal enterprise shown through Rama’s early work as part of a debt collection force and the dynamic of native Indonesian, Chinese and Japanese syndicates are fascinating to watch. A scene where a pornography studio oversteps their set boundaries of operation by selling drugs becomes a hilarious sight-gag, followed by a tense conversation and ultimately a fabulous martial arts set-piece.
Where The Raid was a martial arts action movie at its core, the sequel is more a thriller in that you never know which scenes will be merely about the characters or exposition and which ones will explode into high-concept violence. That the movie can consistently do this while always raising the stakes for its 150-minute running time is an achievement and well worth the time and admission price. Too many American action movies of late have gone the mainstream route and accepted a PG-13 rating to try and make more money. This is an unabashedly violent movie with a great story, interesting characters and cinematic ambition. It deserves to be seen.
Hannah and I saw it in the theater had a discussion in the car: