Review: The Raid 2 – 5/5

Director: Gareth Evans
Certificate: 18
Cast: Iko Ukwais, Yayan Ruhian, Julie Estelle, Arifin Putra, Alex Abbad, Tio Pakusodewo
Running Time: 150 minutes
Plot: Picking up minutes after the prequels conclusion, The Raid 2 sees Officer Rama (Ukwais) go deep undercover to bring down the Jakarta mob bosses… and half the corrupt police force along with it.

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Martial arts movie aficionado Gareth Evans has had just about enough of people asking him: ‘So, How does a Welshman end up making films in the Indonesian ghetto?’ Magic! Now just watch the film! The Raid 2 is a different – and much, much larger – beast than the first film; akin to the opening monologue on the nature of ambition, it far surpasses the limitations of its tower block bound predecessor. The Raid 2 is gristly, exciting cinema, packed with what are unquestionably the best action sequences since, um, The Raid.

Ten minutes after The Raid’s raid ended, raider Rama (Iko Uwais) is told that the ‘raidees’ were relatively small fry fare compared to the real villains of Jakarta. With crime lords running rampant through the Indonesian city, it’s obvious that the police force is infected with some some seriously high level corruption, so Rama is asked to adopt the name of Yuda and try a new line in undercover infiltration. Under alias, Rama hits the cell block and uses his skills as a concrete punching Silat master to win the trust of Uco (Arifin Putra) , son of one of Jakarta’s leading mob bosses. Once he has an in, Rama must try in earnest to defy Infernal Affairs/The Departed comparisons and bring the whole stinking operation to its knees, one kneecap dislocation at a time.

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The Raid 2 is absolutely brutal. Though much of the three hour run time is spent establishing characters within a debased social and political context, it is the ten minute (minimum) long fight scenes that truly stick in the mind. Director Gareth Evans unleashes a relentless downpour of bone breaking violence that’ll make even the most seasoned of action buffs sit up and take notice – you’ll wince, you’ll laugh, you’ll feel alive. Evans is an innovator, challenging you constantly with his repertoire of remarkable camera angles and jaw dropping tracking shots. It’s often said; if you’ve seen one car chase, you’ve seen em all– Well think again! The Raid 2’s combat scenes are beautiful in their gritty symmetry; each one is a symphonic display of violent, spatially aware genius, making use of the environment and the human form to mind blowing effect. These fight scenes are exactly what cinema is all about, arresting every sense but smell (although at one point you might be sure you just caught a whiff of burning cheek flesh). This is what you pay for!

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Iko Ukwais is like a bull in an Indonesia shop as hero Rama, laying waste to hordes of henchman with the grace of a ballet dancer that took amphetamine just before the curtain went up. The same can be said of Julie Estelle (Hammer Girl – Old Boy similarities abound), Very Yulisman (Baseball bat man) and Yayan Ruhian (Prakoso), all of whom possess physical abilities and an intensity that beggars belief.

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 The Raid 2 is a very long film, but every second is thrilling. It has phenomenal action, marvellous acting and the grandest of storytelling ambitions – call it the martial arts equivalent of The Godfather II. For all those The Raid fans wondering if there’s a kill worthy of the neck-through-door impaling: Yes, there is.

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