THE RAID 2
Review by Gordon Justesen
Uwais, Arifin Putra, Oka Antara, Tio Pakusadewo, Alex Abbad, Julie Estelle,
Ryuhei Matsuda, Kenchi Endo, Kazuki Kitamura
Director: Gareth Evans
Audio: DTS HD 5.1
Video: Anamorphic Widescreen 2.40:1
Features: See Review
Length 150 Minutes
Release Date: July 8, 2014
2012‘s The Raid: Redemption was one of the most ferociously mind blowing action movies to ever surface on the screen. Fast paced, claustrophobic and loaded with fight sequences hard-hitting enough to make the viewer feel bruised, it served as a true representation of every thing action movie fans love about this genre. Little did we know that director Gareth Evans would serve up a sequel that would do the unthinkable and surpass an already remarkable predecessor.
The Raid 2 has already been hailed by many as the action movie sequel equivalent to The Godfather Part II, which I can tell you it most certainly is! What makes this movie so unique in terms of a sequel is that it does something you’d hardly expect to see in this genre. Instead of repeating or doing a variation on the same plot (aka, the easy way out), we get a follow up that makes us realize the previous film was just a springboard for something a whole lot bigger both in scope and execution.
The movie picks up several hours after the events of the first movie, with cop Rama (Iko Uwais) having made it out alive after nearly single handedly taken down a high rise apartment complex full of criminals, compliments of some heavy duty martial arts combat. Winding up in his possession is some recorded evidence, which directly kicks the sequel into full motion. Rama is immediately confronted by a member of a secret internal affairs unit who asks for his help in taking down both a major criminal organization and the corrupt cops who are tied in with them.
To do this, he will have to go deep undercover, be placed in prison, gain the confidence of inmate Uco (Arifin Putra), the son of a major drug lord. Once that is done, and when released, he will be placed in the center of the organization. And from this point, I could say all hell is about to break loose...but that would be a gross understatement.
Upon watching the first movie, which is confined to a single setting, I would have never imagined seeing this story being elevated the way it is in this sequel, which can best be described as The Departed but with a hell of a lot more martial arts involved. And although that may not sound like the most remarkable plot scenario, The Raid 2 is the best undercover cop movie since Martin Scorsese’s 2006 masterpiece, and the fight sequences rank as some of the best ever filmed...and I do mean EVER! Not to mention, we have gone from a movie that ran a quick 90 plus minutes to a sequel that is two and a half hours, and I say that enthusiastically because the action bits fill up a good bit of the running time, and each action sequence is essential to the plot, which is rare these days.
And as much as I want to go into full detail about every single one of the action sequences, I won’t because the viewer deserves to be absolutely marveled by them just as I was when I saw the movie during its theatrical run. All that I will say is that director Gareth Evans, who also serves as the fight choreographer, knows how to film and execute action in brutally unique ways, not to mention come up with inventive weapons for his characters to use in extreme fashion. And in terms of action execution, Evans deserves the lifetime achievement award for the climax involving Rama taking down a warehouse full of thugs before making his way to the main villains, which occupies the last half hour of the movie!
But The Raid 2 also happens to be quite compelling, especially in its concluding moments. That aspect, combined with the monumentally astounding action sequences, make this movie the new standard to which all future movies of this type are measured. It currently ranks as my favorite film of this year, and it demands the full attention of action fans everywhere!
Both this movie and its predecessor are extensively well shot. This was made with the use of the RED camera, and the result is nothing short of jaw dropping on this Sony Blu-ray release! The image detail is nothing less than razor sharp, and colors and flesh tones appear in ultra superb form. Whether indoor our outdoor, the detail is always at a full hundred percent, and the set pieces for the action are presented in tremendously terrific form, as well.
The DTS HD mix accompanies the awesome action beautifully. Available in both Indonesian and dubbed English, the presentation captures every bone crunch, bits of shattered glass, gun blast, etc. in full range. Dialogue delivery and music playback are extremely well balanced, as well!
Included on this Sony Blu-ray is a great commentary with writer/director Gareth Evans which is detailed and very informative about what went into the making of the film. There’s also several featurettes, including “The Next Chapter: Shooting a Sequel”, “Ready For a Fight: On Location” and “Violent Ballet”, all of which cover extensive ground about the making of the film and what went into shooting the many complicated action scenes. Also included is a 45 minute Q&A session with Gareth Evans, actor Iko Uwais and composer Joe Trapanese. Rounding out the extras is a Deleted Scene and Theatrical Trailer.
The Raid 2 is in the rarefied group of sequels that managed to exceed of already terrific predecessors. Watching where this follow up goes could never have been predicted when watching the first movie, which is one of the joys of seeing it unfold. And the action scenes are ones for the history books!