Film Review: The Raid 2

by Gordon Elgart on April 7, 2014

The action stuff works so incredibly well, you’ll want a fan edit removing everything else.

Iko Uwais fights his way through a building ... again.

Iko Uwais fights his way through a building … again.

Gareth Evans knows how to shoot an action scene. This is a high compliment coming from me, because it’s so rare. He knows not to do too many quick cuts, he knows where to put the cameras, and he knows to show the performers doing the stunts. The way he designs action sequences to make brutal physical violence seem both balletic and funny is beyond what anyone else is doing in cinema these days.  The action stuff is so good and so fun, it’s a shame it has to be inside of a story, because the story itself drags down the final product.

The Raid 2 starts right after The Raid: Redemption has finished. We see the direct aftermath of that movie, as some characters get dispatched quite quickly, and others live on to fight in the sequel. Our hero, Rama, gets sent on an undercover mission to infiltrate a gang and bring them down from the inside but there are other gangs and backstabbing and everyone wants to control the city and I really didn’t follow all of it except that Rama is gonna need to kill everyone eventually. Y’know, the usual. There’s no twist you won’t see coming if you’re a fan of action films. To spend any time discussing the “I’ve seen this before” plot would be as wasteful as watching these scenes was.

Consider these action beats instead:

  • A man gets attacked by a gang while inside of a bathroom stall, and fights them off
  • Dozens of men are killed in a giant muddy prison riot
  • A villain shows entirely new ways to kill with a baseball bat
  • A villain shows entirely new ways to kill with a couple of hammers
  • A character (played by the same actor who was Mad Dog in the first Raid film) fights several attackers in a multi-level  nightclub, and the battle spills out into snowy streets

And many, many more. And that’s just the first half of the movie! Later, we’ll be treated to the most fantastic car chase sequence you’ve seen in years, and of course what martial arts film wouldn’t end with our hero trying to battle his way through a building full of attackers? This is spectacular stuff, and if your audience isn’t whooping with delight by the time it’s done, you’ve seen this in the wrong audience. I highly recommend the theatrical experience for this one, as the shared moments of shrieking wonder are worth the effort.

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The Raid 2 is playing now in limited Bay Area theaters, including AMC Metreon and The Shattuck Cinemas, and opens in additional theaters on Friday, April 11.

 

 

 

Gordon Elgart

A music nerd who probably uses that term too much. I have a deep love for bombastic, quirky and dynamic music.

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