Indonesia | 2014 | Directed by Gareth Evans
Logline: A cop is forced to go undercover, infiltrate a gangster syndicate and climb through the hierarchy to expose the police and political corruption at the top.
In 2011 The Raid, also known as The Raid: Redemption, and as Serbuan Maut (Death Raid) in its home country, brought writer/director Gareth Evans, an ex-pat Welshman, into the living rooms of extreme action diehards and slapped them in the face. A simple narrative, yet driven by an intensely choreographed ballet of ultraviolence, The Raid became an instant cult classic, and for many a new benchmark in visceral action.
The Raid 2 (with the subtitle Berandal as its closing credits) is actually the movie Evans intended to make first, but it was a far more ambitious production and he wanted to create a memorable back story for his lead character, so The Raid: Redemption was produced first. The box office and critical acclaim secured the sequel’s green light. As far as sequel’s go, it’s arguably a better movie; a more complex narrative, more elaborate set-pieces, more intensity, stronger performances, and, most importantly to the diehard action fans, it’s much more violent.
Rama (Iko Uwais) had a hard time in the high-rise apartment block that was the centre piece of The Raid. He was beaten black and blue. In The Raid he gets beaten blacker and bluer. But not without causing enough mayhem himself to last three Hollywood action flicks! Evans’ extraordinary fight sequences are something to behold. But – and for me, this is a big “but” – one must take all the hand-to-hand combat sequences with a grain of salt. They are very cartoon-like.
Each thug takes their turn and is knocked silly. Real fights simply don’t happen like that. In this respect both The Raid, and even more so with The Raid 2, the combat content harks back to the now very dated stylistics of the Hong Kong movies of Jackie Chan and other martial arts flicks. They are enjoyable on an immediate level, but make no sense within the framework of the rest of the movie which is attempts to be realistic.
It’s utterly absurd when Rama has been battling it out for ten minutes against scores of goons all armed to the teeth, with barely a scratch on him, and suddenly is hit by a glancing machete. Next scene he’s nursing a flesh wound in his hotel room as if his life depended on it. Later still and all that’s a distant memory as he’s back in the thick of it. There’s really no rhyme or reason in this twisted odyssey of violence and thuggery.
But on a beer and popcorn level it works incredibly well. Unless another Dredd is released this year (I much preferred that over The Raid) then The Raid 2 will easily take out top honours for action flick of the year. Hell, it’s even one of the most violent movies of the past few years! The production is slick, and the villains are nasty. The Raid 3 is already in pre-production, as is a Hollywood remake of The Raid. Boom!