This has to be one of the greatest action films ever created. A tightly plotted, perfectly executed crime drama of deception, loyalty and survival. Gareth Evans follow-up to his 2011 film The Raid in a sequel that completely transforms itself separate to its predecessor that it is superior in every way. The Raid 2 takes it everything you loved about the first film, ratchets it up to eleven and leaves you speechless when the credits finally start to roll. Evans delivers the perfect sequel in a film that gives cinephiles everything they want and need to be enthralled for two and half hours.
The film starts a few hours after the event of the first film, I’d say its required viewing to make the story even greater. Only Rama, the protagonist bridges the two films is the only character to come back and this film delves much deeper on how he is as a character. He survived hell in The Raid and he’s asked to go even deeper into the abyss. Rama is an officer of the law with convictions, he believes in the system but the story shows how the system never works. Rama is solider in a war, a soldier who finds himself fighting more for his survival than the victory of justice. Indonesia criminal element controls the city of Jakarta, a task force wants names of corrupt police officers working with the Bangun crime syndicate as well as others. After Rama’s display of skills he is recruited and sent deep undercover as an agent for Bangun.
Evans and actor Iko Uwais convincingly portray the struggle of undercover police officers, Rama spends years undercover, he is committed to his mission but has to commit heinous acts to cement his position. He’s driven and highly skilled, The Raid 2 just improves on Rama’s fighting skills and the situations he has to survive from. The bathroom stall, the prison mud yard, and the final fight at Bejo’s restaurant. It’s thrilling and you while you know that Rama won’t die against a nameless thug, there is danger present in every scene. The Raid stood out because Evans and his team utilised Pencak Silat, a visually thrilling fighting style that Evans films in all its brutality. There are no quick cuts, Evans lets the fights breath on camera, the cinematography will confound your mind, you can’t believe what you’re seeing on-screen.
Continuous shots of breathtaking action and violence all done in a seemingly single take, the direction is award worthy. It isn’t just punches and kicks, its dozens fighting at once, knifes, guns, absolute chaos but Evans is the master of the storm. The fight scenes are art put to film, the absolute power of visual storytelling as characters fight for his life. The fight scenes are engaging because of how it drives Rama’s story forward but also because of all the new characters that Evans develops into the story. The fight heightens when the two opponents are rich, well-developed characters as with the first film, the antagonist of Mad Dog played by Yayan Ruhian (who has plays another character in this film, just as vicious) was a fearsome foe. The Raid 2 doesn’t just top Mad Dog, it brings extra.
Rama has his enemies with Bangun’s group but the antagonists of this film own this film. Bejo the upcoming crime lord, manipulating Uco, (Bangun’s son and Rama’s friend) to further his reach and control in his city and his enforcers: Hammer Girl, Baseball Bat Man and The Assassin. The introduction of these characters make them seem unstoppable and malevolent and they absolutely are. When Rama finally faces off against these three especially The Assassin its a powerful and gripping fight where your heart can’t stop pounding s it’s very likely that Rama will be killed. It’s work so well because these antagonists are established into the film so well, every character in this film is new, the only continuing story is Rama. So many characters and story lines to introduce and juggle but Evans does it with one hand and you can’t believe how rewarding this film is.
The ending of this film would be an excellent conclusion to The Raid series and Rama’s character but I’ll be first in line for third film, if it ever comes. I’ve only skimmed the surface on what makes this film a spectacular experience for any audience, there is so much to unpack and appreciate. An excellent example to show people who think foreign films suck because this film makes every American action film look like garbage in comparison.