Freelance writer. Melbourne based cinephile. Fond of food.
Published March 30th 2014
Sequel delivers more of everything
Director: Gareth Evans (The Raid, V/H/S/2, Merantau) Cast: Iko Uwais, Arifin Putra, Yayan Ruhian
In 2011 Welsh-born Indonesian-based director Gareth Evans tried to make a film called Berandal. He failed to raise the funds, so he settled for making the more modestly budgeted The Raid: Redemption. It cost $1 million to produce and became by far the most successful film to come out of Indonesia. With an international haul of $20 million, it has paved the way for Evans to return to the film he originally intended to make. Except now it's a sequel - The Raid 2.
Iko Uwais and Cecep Arif Rahman break a few plates despite the precision of their moves in a colossal kitchen fight sequence
The Raid: Redemption was a mean and lean action flick, full of kinetic energy and the barest of exposition. Its success came down to stunningly choreographed fight scenes featuring superior camera work and editing and bone crunching sound effects. It was graphic Indonesian chop socky (silat harimau) let loose on the world.
The Raid 2 preserves all those attributes and ramps them up to an even higher level. The bravura martial arts scenes are as good as any fight scenes you'll see anywhere, punctuated by lightning fast choreography. The film features all manner of supremely staged action set-pieces, most notably a ridiculously audacious car chase. Evans knows it's all about the best camera angles, great lighting and plenty of imagination and dark humour.
The Hammer Girl (Julie Estelle) drives a point home on a subway full of hitmen.
The one departure from the original is that this time Evans has invested more of a plot and character development. The story centres on one of the few survivors of the first film, Rama. He is sent undercover to infiltrate a powerful crime syndicate. There he attempts to obtain incriminating evidence while keeping vengeful motives in check and protecting himself from some seriously dangerous underworld types.
Injecting such niceties as dialogue and storyline, but also ratcheting up the violence and action, means the sequel has a longer running time. Clocking in at 150 minutes, this is almost an hour longer than its predecessor, but this is certainly a case of more actually meaning more.
Arifin Putra as Ucok, the well groomed but impulsive heir to a powerful crime syndicate.
As the indefatigable Rama, Iko Uwais is marking his third stint as leading man in an Evans film. His fighting skills alone set him apart, he co-choreographed all the fights, but he also has an innocent, schoolboy charm which make him a natural good guy in a room full of thugs. As his equally youthful nemesis Ucok, Arifin Putra has an immaculate coolness. His Eurasian model looks and perfect English could easily launch him to international stardom.
The rest of the cast all look suitably menacing and certainly know their way around a few sharp instruments (and some blunt ones too).
A lot of directors would've used the bigger budget to splash out on special effects, but Evans has stuck to his aesthetic. The scale is grander, but this sequel remains true to the spirit of the first. It's a nerve jangling, violent thrill ride, which will have you bracing yourself from one scene to the next. Isn't that what you want from an action movie?