Release Date: March 28, 2014 (Limited)
Director: Gareth Evans
MPAA Rating: R
Film Pulse Score: 10/10
[This is a repost of our review from Sundance 2014. The Raid 2 hits select cities this Friday.]
When Gareth Evans’ The Raid was first unleashed into the world in 2011, I stated that it was the best action film to be released in decades and one of the best ever made. Now, just two years later we have The Raid 2, a movie that had some seemingly insurmountable shoes to fill. Evans apparently knew he had to up the ante, because everything in this sequel is bigger and better. While the first entry was isolated and pure viscera, The Raid 2 opens this brutal world up to larger set pieces and a much broader storyline. This is the perfect action movie and should be set as a blueprint for any director looking to make one of their own.
The film begins directly after the events of the first film, with Rama (Iko Uwais) being recruited in a special ops police force that go after corrupt officers and officials. In order to get in with the right people, Rama goes undercover as a prisoner and befriends the son of a prominent mob boss. As rival families wage war against one another, Rama gets stuck in the middle and must fight for survival.
While the storyline in The Raid 2 is certainly more epic in scope, the highlight is obviously the pure bat-shit insane action sequences. If you thought the set pieces in The Raid couldn’t be outdone, wait till you get a load of this. The violence is ten times more brutal, with intense and shocking moments occurring every few seconds. Where the first film contained a few overly violent images, this one has almost too many to count, which isn’t a bad thing. From an amazingly shot prison fight involving hundreds of inmates battling it out in the mud, to one of the most insanely awesome car chases I’ve ever seen, this movie takes action to a new level.
Ultra violent and crazy action wouldn’t be anything without solid choreography, camerawork, and directing however, and thankfully The Raid 2 excels in all of the above. Evans brings back the kinetic camerawork of the previous film, with some downright amazing shots capturing every punch, slice, and bone break with ease and grace. One of the several incredible shots done during the car chase involves a direct overview of a fight in a car, where it appeared that the top of the car was removed. It looked amazing and was something I’ve never seen before.
The fight choreography is once again top notch, with so many moves and long takes that it feels like if you blink you’ll miss something big. If this happens though, it’s not a big deal because there are so many big moves in this film that it’s okay to miss a couple. The fights are complex and long and brutal- just what you want from a martial arts flick.
The level of violence in The Raid 2 is certainly something that will be discussed, and it will be surprising if director Evans doesn’t have to make any cuts. It’s like a ballet of carnage, with blood spraying in all directions. One of the new characters, Hammer Girl, is every bit as brutal as her name implies. A scene involving her killing a large group of thugs on a train car is exciting and one of the most gruesome things I’ve seen in a long time.
The Raid 2 is an action masterpiece. Gareth Evan’s has brought the same amount of crazy over the top action to this sequel with the addition of an entertaining and complex crime drama. It will shock, disgust, and excite you all at once, and part 3 can’t come to us soon enough.