I was impressed and overwhelmed by the action scenes in The Raid, the 2011 Indonesian action movie written and directed by Welshman Gareth Evans. The contained tale of a cop squad trying to make their way through an apartment complex to apprehend a mobster, rivaled Die Hard for high-octane filmmaking set in a single location.
And the sequel finally opens in India this weekend.
The Raid 2 differs from its predecessor first in terms of scope. This narrative has sprawl, scale and visually inventive filmmaking that rivals some of the best work you will see in the forthcoming Hollywood summer blockbusters. Picking up not long after the first film, Rama (Iko Uwais) is recruited to go undercover by Bunawar (Cok Simbara) so that he can befriend the imprisoned son of a mob boss. Towards this end Rama gets himself arrested and then spends a significant amount of time in prison.
Once he’s out, the son Uco (Arifin Putra) introduces Yuda (Rama’s undercover name) to his father Bangun (Tio Pakusodewo) who is grateful for Yuda’s assistance in keeping Uco safe on the inside, but not so grateful that he doesn’t have Yuda strip searched the moment he turns up. It doesn’t take long for Yuda to convince the boss that he is a valuable addition to the team.
There is a lot more to the story of course, including a rival boss, and an up-and-comer who is pulling some interesting strings in the background, but that is for you to discover while watching the movie.
Let me just say that Mr. Evans hasn’t lost any of his visual inventiveness when it comes to staging an action scene. From the confines of a toilet, to an elaborate prison yard melee, to altercations in a subway car, a couple of corridors, a kitchen, a warehouse, and a car chase/fight scene combo, there are so many opportunities for repetitive action, and yet his leading man, the various stuntmen, and the camera team manage to make it exhilarating every single time. This is a movie whose action scenes caused me to tense up significantly in a way no giant lizard stomping across the screen ever could.
Even the makeup effects (especially in the aftermath of another violent altercation) seem to have been taken to a new level.
Mr. Evans wrote, directed and edited this movie, and it is destined to become as much of an instant action classic as its predecessor. As an added bonus he has injected a seriously sweeping narrative into the proceedings. It may venture into familiar territory but it sure adds substance to all the bone-crunching that surrounds it. Also, BE WARNED: The violence in here is not for the faint-hearted, and it would be very irresponsible to take young kids to watch this one.
Final Analysis: The Raid 2 is an epic big screen gangster drama of the kind you haven’t seen in years.
My Advice: Watch it on the big screen accompanied by true action movie fans. It is an experience you won’t soon forget.