The Raid 2 – 3.5/5 – Movie Reviews by Ry!

the raid 2The Raid 2 – 3.5/5 – Action; it is as universal as music and medicine.  Even with the appeal to the masses; the translation of action films is done differently in different parts of the world; more specifically Asian action.  When it comes to this kind of action orientation, it has a specific niche.  There is a strong focus on more unique styles of fighting; either emphasizing something of the martial arts or encompassing of ‘cop/espionage’ thrills.   This sequel dabbles its toes in both; infusing martial arts into a cop story.  The Raid 2 is a film that builds upon the first, but does it in a way where it is ‘big’ but just ‘big enough’.  With a very convoluted start, the film will take you on a journey you will never expect, but one that you will definitely enjoy.

Premise: Picking up the very moments after the first; Rama goes undercover to unravel a deeper conspiracy of police corruption, mob and a war that might put the city in turmoil.

The cast in this film is mainly big actors/actresses overseas.  If you want a full list of the names, you can see them on the IMDB page for the film.  I will only mention two people.

Iko Uwais as Rama/Yuda

Arifin Putra as Uco

As Rama, Uwais picks up where he left off from the first film.  Playing a cop, he is now forced into going undercover for the special unit to take down the mob.  A lot of the elements portrayed through Rama is one that can be define as a ‘duality’ type.  You see this version in any kind of undercover film, no matter if it is made here or overseas.  Uwais doesn’t give a lot of depth when it comes to the overall character; but he does provide a wealth of emotion and good interactions.  His emotions come out the most when he is performing the fights.  When it comes to this, he simply puts on a spectacle.  From each scene, no matter if he is going one-on-one or fighting a group of people at once, he definitely shows off his skills as a martial artist.  As Uco, Putra provides us with a layered but flawed individual, one that is attracted to the ‘work’ of Rama, who is Yuda at the time.  Watching Uco’s arch develop in the movie helps flesh out the mob elements as well as his personal relationship with his father.  Here, you see a more dramatic side of the film, one that helps provide some story to bridge the action.  For the rest of the cast, they are all typical when it comes to any kind of action flick.  You have your common henchmen, aloof bad guys and ‘colorful’ villains.  Even for the archetypes being plain, they never hinder the film’s enjoyment.

The direction of the films (as mention above) follows the traditional arch of a cop going undercover.  With that, the film is stapled to this common outline:

Main character goes undercover because of (insert heartfelt moment)

Main character develops a close relationship with (insert family member of mob)

Drama ensues of cliché mob elements/fights occur

Main character starts to break under pressure (side mob drama)

Drama intensifies/fights escalate

Confrontation of truths/main character vs. everyone (third act)

Climax fight/Epilogue

You might think that with this basis that the film is very predictable; but that is not the case.  What makes this film stand out past the linear aspect is how visually provoking the script weaves all the elements of ‘action’ and ‘drama’ between each other seamlessly.  This is done very precisely by the tone never leaving its ‘dark’ and ‘brooding’ attitude and the pace staying steadfast between every scene.  As you watch this film, it begins to boil down to two obvious things;

Unpredictable action scenes

Colorful but shocking one-on-one fights

This is where the entertainment lies.  When you watch Rama or any of the secondary characters in action, it is a sight to behold.  What makes the fights and action scenes feel ‘bigger’ then the first is the open aspect of the fights, instead of the fights just happening in one building.  This allows for more elusive elements and different weaponry, providing a creative staging of props, people and places.  When you have all this mixed into a focused direction, you see that a film can be entertaining with a simple premise.  Once the film hits the third act, it is a barrage of some of the best but intense chorography fights I have ever seen.  With such a great build up, the climax does comes very abruptly, but there is a sense that it is done this way to leave it open for a purpose; there is more to come.

The visuals of the film are nothing spectacular, but are enough to help provide a ‘modern’ scope of a typical metropolitan area.  Here, you see the mob element through the various clubs, penthouses and offices in this area.  You also have common areas like hotels, highways and other places to provide some scope of ‘grounded’ mentality, which creates a believability factor for the action and fight scenes.  The score is very brooding, but that helps add to the intensity and gruesomeness of the film’s tone.

The Raid 2 is a film that might not seem appealing on the surface, but once you watch it, you’ll be left with an intense feeling of enjoyment.  Filled with some of the best action and fight scenes you’ll ever see, this is a foreign film to add to your collection.  I recommend it to fans of the first film, or anyone that likes a really good action film to watch on a Friday night.

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