When roller coaster rides couldn’t give you a rush anymore, someone in Vegas came up with the Xscream, a gut-crunching ride at 900 ft. above ground, on top of a hotel. Then they outdid themselves with Insanity, a ride at same place that spins you at speeds of up to 3 G’s. Take a deep breath action lovers, The Raid 2 is the Insanity you have been waiting for!
For those who are here for the verdict, let me tell you that I spent 4 days writing this article simply because I wanted to keep revisiting all scenes in my head! The Raid 2 is “Awesome”. Period! For those who dare to doubt, read on …
We saw what Joss Whedon did with The Avengers and suddenly there was a tide of Marvel fans roaring, “Joss Whedon is our god”. Christopher Nolan and Zack Snyder did the same with the DC universe and Man of Steel. I am not embarrassed to say, “Gareth Evans is our god!“.
Evans is the Welsh director and master-puppeteer behind the acclaimed action series The Raid. He discovered Iko Uwais, the lead actor, at an Indonesian martial arts academy and the duo kicked off with their first martial arts venture, a lesser known movie called Merantau. This became a stepping stone to one of the most acclaimed modern action films, The Raid: Redemption. And just when we thought that the ultimate had been delivered, The Raid 2 shows that its predecessor was simply a warm-up!
The Raid 2 picks up from where The Raid: Redemption ended. After surviving the first raid, Rama (Iko Uwais) ends up with an anti-corruption official, who explains the cover-up for the earlier mission and offers a chance to work with him to rid the police force of corrupt officers and “clean the city”. Rama’s new mission requires him to befriend Ucok (Arifin Putra) who is currently imprisoned. During his term in jail, Rama repeatedly falls target to attacks by inmates leading to two major fight sequences (look out for the amazing fight in a muddy pit, a personal favorite). Upon being released from jail, Rama is introduced to Ucok’s father Bangun, who leads one of the city’s two ruling crime syndicates. He is offered to be a part of the gang and follows Ucok as his right hand. Rama’s role as an undercover cop slowly fades into a more complex scenario when Ucok conspires to ascend to his father’s throne. Ucok teams up with Bejo, who is a rising criminal, and plans to rage a war between the two syndicates that had earlier maintained a mutual agreement.
There is a huge cast of interesting characters that give a dash of color to the storyline. A perfect example is the trio of kick-ass assassins that seem to have materialized from a comic book, including Baseball Bat Man, Hammer Girl and Prakoso (Mad Dog from the previous movie). This trio drives some of the most brain-smashing fights (literally!) in the movie. Then there’s the boss-fight between Ucok and Bejo’s most lethal pawn, which is one of the best hand combat scenes from the movie. The Raid 2 not only builds upon a deeper story arc (It’s not Inception but it’s definitely good enough for an action flick) but also delivers endless edge of your seat action (I mean it, literally) all the way through its 150-minute run time.
The Raid 2 provided Evans with a platform to unleash his powers and the results are mesmerizing. With a bigger budget, bigger story and longer run time, Evans gets a chance to explore more subtle nuances of filmmaking that its predecessor lacked. The cinematography is something that wins your heart from the start. There’s a calm view of crops when you zoom through the canopy, interlaced with scenes from a fight taking place in a building, and suddenly there’s blood spatter on the leaves and you see a head falling off its shoulder. Shot over a wider array of locations (yes, it has a car chase scene as well), the movie delivers story with finesse. And your eyes aren’t the only ones in for a ride. The Raid 2 has a background score that blends effortlessly with onscreen action. With a silent hum during a tense moment or foot thumping beats that accompany bone-cracking punches, you are always in for an immersive experience.
The Raid 2 is a symphony brilliantly orchestrated by Evans and expertly executed by his team. This is definitely the movie you would regret missing in theaters.