Part 4 of My 100 Movies of Summer 2014
The Raid 2 (2014, w & d by Gareth Evans)
Back in 2011, Gareth Evans and Iko Uwais delivered unto us an adrenaline-fueled siege movie called The Raid. It was a super-charged shot of adrenaline for action junkies who hadn’t seen anything quite like it in some time. A sequel was ordered and it finally arrived back in March. I was really excited to see it. But I never did. I missed out on a certain chance to see it at SXSW. I waited for a theatrical release. But it came and went so quickly from a local multiplex, I never had the chance. I kept an eye out for it to show up on VOD. It never did. I knew I’d have to wait for the Blu-ray. And FINALLY, a few weeks after I bought that Blu-ray, I watched it. It was worth the wait.
One of the more common criticisms lobbed at the first film was its lack of a real plot. It was pretty one-dimensional. Get in a building. Get the bad guy. Kick anyone’s ass who gets in your way. Still, I rather liked it as did many. As the film ends, Uwais’ Rama is left to an uncertain fate with a few dangling plot threads swinging in the wind. Here, Evans quickly resolves those issues in rather brutal fashion setting Rama on a new path of dealing with the police corruption that caused the drug den raid to go tits up. He is tasked by an internal affairs officer to infiltrate a criminal organization that works closely with the dirty cops. He accomplishes this by having himself incarcerated so that he can ingratiate himself to the gang leader’s son who is also serving time. His stay is a bit longer that was anticipated but once he’s released he’s given a position in the gang because of his service to the son in the prison. So positioned, he begins his task of exposing the corrupt officials who allow the gangs to run rampant.
And, oh yeah, there’s a whole lot of fighting going on. In the prison. In bars. On the streets. And in cars. There are a ton of elaborate set pieces where the skilled martial artists are really allowed to stretch their wings in a way that the confines of the previous film’s building setting couldn’t allow. The fights are perfectly paced as well. Whereas the first film played like one long extended fight, here they move the plot, throwing it in new directions, all of it leading to a somewhat subdued and more personal ending.
Rama. The Assassin. Hammer Girl. Baseball Bat Man. All of these characters have their chance in the spotlight. And all of them shine. But my favorite character might be Prakoso. He’s portrayed by Yayan Ruhian and while you may not be familiar with the name you’ll most definitely recognize the actor if you’re a fan of the first film. There, he portrayed Mad Dog who famously faced Rama and his brother in a brutal fight. He had this crazed monkey style of fighting that was a treat to watch. If he wasn’t such a son-of-a-bitch, you’d almost be rooting for him. Here, his appearance has been changed enough to not be distracting but he still fights the same. His character gives Evans an opportunity to bring some pathos to the proceedings and his story arc is surprisingly moving. It’s an emotional moment in a film that actually has a lot of them.
And I think that might be Evans’ biggest accomplishment with this film. He’s delivered yet another thrilling movie, filled with action and brutality, but accentuated with an effective and moving crime drama plot that I would put up against any of the Chinese films of that type. It’s a two-and-half hour movie that leaves you wanting more.
And that right there is a hell of a thing.
The Raid 2 is available on Blu-ray, DVD, Amazon Prime and VOD (Finally!) If you’ve seen the first, you’ve probably already seen this one. Watch it again. You know you want to. If you haven’t seen the first one, watch that. Then watch this. Then wait impatiently for the third one with the rest of us. Man. I hope there’s going to be a third film.
If you’re at all curious as to what I’ve been watching this summer to reach my 100 movie goal, check out my Letterboxd account. I’ve already seen 60 movies with 43 days to go. I think I’ll make it.
Previously in My 100 Movies of Summer 2014: