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THE RAID 2 (review)

raid_two_berandal_ver3THE RAID
Written and Directed by Gareth Evans

Starring Iko Uwais, Julie Estelle, Arfin Putra and Tio Pukusodewo

THE RAID 2 is the direct sequel to THE RAID: REDEMPTION, directed by Welshman, Gareth Evans.  It’s faster, freakier and more fun than the original, and I dare say, probably the single best martial arts action film to come along since, well, maybe ever. You’re probably just as surprised to read that as I was to write it, but I say it in complete seriousness. To be honest, I only made it about 2/3 of the way through THE RAID: REDEMPTION before shutting it off because I just didn’t care. Yes, the stunts and choreography are stunning, but that is about it all it has working for it. This time around, Evans spends more time on the plot and character development across the 2.5 hour running time to deliver an action-packed film with intriguing characters and an entertaining storyline.

Picking up two hours after the end of the first film, S.W.A.T officer, Rama (Iko Uwais), is faced with a rather dubious decision to infiltrate a major gang in Jakarta with the goal of uncovering corrupt police officers within that gang. Rama must leave his family and his name behind and befriend Ucok (Arfin Putra), the son of Bangun (Tio Pukusodewo), the overlord who has major control over the city’s operations. The catch? Ucok is in jail, so Rama must get himself into that jail, learning to survive the harsh reality that is life behind bars. Fast forward two years later and Rama is finally released from prison, and who other than Ucok is there to pick him up and introduce him to his father, who wants to thank him for his loyalty towards his son during his time in prison. They provide new clothes, a gorgeous penthouse suite, women and money as thanks for Rama’s loyalty over the years. Bangun even gives Rama a position in his gang so that he can have Rama near until he feels his debt has been repaid. Working as both an undercover officer and thug henchman does have its drawbacks, as Rama begins to feel conflicted between doing his job and not being found out. He must run with the gang in order to keep himself, and his wife and child, safe, but that begins to prove increasingly more difficult than expected as Rama sinks further and further into the corruption and violence of the Jakarta gang, and the ever growing ego of Ucok, who is beginning to feel less than respected by his own father.

The Raid 2 3

It’s probably redundant to say, but this is the type of action movie where every action sequence is better than the last. Beginning with a gang fight in a prison washroom to an all out prison war in the muddy courtyard that just looks exhausting, THE RAID 2 only takes short breaks in between each sequence, just the right amount of time for the audience to catch their much needed breath. Each fight scene is incredibly and beautifully choreographed to emulate the most realistic fight sequences possible, and in many cases the body shots actually do make contact. Uwais is once again a brilliant martial artist to watch on the big screen; his athleticism and skill is unmatched by any other actor you will probably see on the big screen this year. His acting is subtle, a constant stoic look dawns his face with little emotion, but just the right amount to be convincing.

Outside of these amazing fight scenes (which will surely have everyone talking), THE RAID 2 is perhaps most impressive when it manages to surprise its audience, which it does quite often.  Wether it’s the striking (and almost slightly nauseating) camera technique and movement or the unexpectedly engaging storyline, this sequel is leaps and bounds greater than the original, with edge-of-your-seat, original action (That fight inside the car??? Amazing!). And best of all, it all ends on an explosive note which makes for a great set up for yet another sequel, which means it isn’t actually ending at all.

4.5 sheep

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