Dear Hollywood – if you’ve thought about making a film version of the popular Sega Mega Drive game, Streets of Rage, don’t bother yourself. Gareth Evans beat you to it…and it’s awesome!
“It will be a few months. You can’t know where I am. And I can’t be seen anywhere near you.” – Rama
After his heroics from the last film, rookie cop Rama (Iko Uwais) thought it was over. He thought he could return to his normal life with his family. But he was wrong. After learning some devastating news, Rama goes undercover into the criminal underworld to weed out the corruption and bring them down once and for all.
If you thought the sequel to The Raid was going be the same premise but in a taller building, you are wrong. So wrong! In an unexpectant twist, director Gareth Evans delivers a film that is far more interesting and superior than it’s predecessor. Instead of the closed off/isolated nature from the first Raid film, The Raid 2 expands in an open world arena.
There’s depth to this sequel. It emphasises that The Raid is far more than just the insane violence it presents and refuses to repeat the same treads from the first film. The characters are more involving and developed and that includes our hero, Rama. Rama has to get close to the crime bosses, trying to stay true to himself and his family without crossing that line. We are introduced to the power hungry Uco (Arifin Putra) who is desperate to take over his father’s criminal empire but his father Bangun (played by Tio Pakusodewo) feels he’s not ready. He believes his son is too impatient with his desires to start an unnecessary crime war. You might even spot a familiar face – Yayan Ruhian who played the epic Mad Dog in the first film returns as a brand new character, unleashing his insane moves once again.
The film in many respects pays homage to famous Asian or Hollywood inspired films. There’s an element from The Godfather, illustrating the notion of organised crime families. The superior Infernal Affairs (and not The Departed) with Rama going undercover, trying to survive whilst playing for both sides. Streets of Rage with Rama “cleaning house” and the game’s plotline is not too far away from this one. Finally Game of Death, Bruce Lee’s final yet incomplete film. The closer Rama gets to the criminal bosses, he moves up a level to achieve his goal. With each new level, a new style of fighter would emerge.
“Bring back the ball.” – Baseball Bat Man
The action – OMG the action. My reaction can be easily summed up by Clay Davis from The Wire…
Without sounding like some sadist, the action scenes are beautifully brutal, leaving nothing to the imagination. No matter how much you wince you can’t stop watching. There’s so much with scenes expertly choreographed to perfection. The violence is not there for sake; it’s part of what it is and never feels out of place. Honestly, I will never look at a baseball bat, a hammer or some curved daggers in the same way again!
The Raid now has a reputation when it comes to action and violence and it’s no different in the sequel. You know what’s coming but this time around it’s a slow anticipated build up. The characters would “zone out” until they can only hear their heartbeat or some monotone sound. They ponder and internalise their moves just like in a chess game until the moment they “wake up” and unleash their fury. It’s that patience that gives the fight scenes an extra dynamic. When you add car chases into the mix, you have the most complete action film of your dreams! Frankly The Raid 2 puts every Hollywood action film to shame…TO SHAME.
This is definitely on my list of my favourite films I’ve seen so far this year. If you loved the first film and love martial arts and action films like I do, you can’t go wrong with The Raid 2. Iko Uwais is outstandingly brilliant and Gareth Evans has once again delivered when it mattered, avoiding the preposterous convolution of sequels such as The Matrix Reloaded and Revolutions. He keeps it simple and effective and it’s a very good film.
I can’t wait for The Raid 3.