When I first started doing movie reviews on the Urban Industry blog one of the first films I featured was Gareth Evans’ ‘The Raid’. I was blown away by the movie’s explosive mix of action and truly spectacular martial arts displays. Needless to say when I got the chance to attend a preview screening of ‘The Raid 2’ last night, I jumped at the opportunity.
Firstly I must state ‘The Raid 2’ is an entirely beast altogether from Evans’ first instalment. Sure, it would have been easy to ‘do a Die Hard’ and transport our eponymous hero Rama (Iko Uwais) from one claustrophobic environment to another; maybe switch up the tower block from the first movie for some equally intense boxed-in action aboard a cruise ship or at a particularly savage pop-up opening in Shoreditch. Instead the Welsh director has opted for a sprawling saga set amongst the myriad of organised crime gangs that populate Jakarta. You’ve got to applaud Evans for taking this bold approach and the result is a movie that clocks in at a whopping 150min and owes more to movies like ‘The Godfather’ rather than the usual blood-spattered action fare. In comparison to the first film which delighted in its visceral thrills, you’re going to have to pay close attention to the plot with its expansive cast of characters and multi-layered approach to storytelling.
The film opens literally moments after the first film concluded and I suppose I was lulled into a sense that it would also pick up where it left off thematically and structurally. However, the film soon settles in to its own pace and there are long passages of slow almost meditative pacing that establish the plot. That’s not to say that The Raid 2 has lost any of the first movie’s intensity and jaw-dropping action. In fact, it’s fair to say it’s been ratcheted up a notch and the film is broken up with some incredible sequences. Needless to say it must’ve sucked to work as a stuntman on this film as the carnage is both brutal and realistic. There are some truly intense ‘holy fuck!’ moments that befit the 18 certificate. In amongst the bloodshed there’s also a keen sense of humour and playfulness to be found. I mean, we’ve got a brother and sister deadly assassin duo named Baseball Bat Man and Hammer Girl that looks like they’ve stepped off the pages of an ultra-violent Manga book. The sequel delights in these scenes and while the bigger and better approach has been taken due to the film’s increased budget, it loses none of the intensity of its smaller, more calculated fight scenes.
The Raid 2 is on general release in the UK from Friday 11th April. If you’ve not seen the original film then you simply have to track it down. If you have and were a fan of it, then I urge you to go in to The Raid 2 with an open mind and not to expect a lazy rehash of the first film.
9 karambit slashes / 10