Viewed – 21 August 2014 Blu-ray
The first Raid movie was an eye-opener of an action-flick. A raw, uncompromising and unflinching martial arts explosion in a very claustrophobic setting. Impeccably choreographed and made a name for it’s star Iko Uwais, as well as director Gareth Evans – a Welshman, believe it or not. This follow-up has rookie cop Rama being persuaded to go undercover against the mob organisation he roughed up (to put it mildly) in the first movie. Soon he’s befriending the son of a local kingpin, whilst everyone begins to double cross one another, with Rama struggling to stay alive and not get his cover blown.
The story is over-complicated and takes a bit of time to get going, but is filled with some interesting characters, especially the conflicted, power-hungry Uco (Arifin Putra). But we’re not here for deep and meaningful characterisation, despite the scripts best efforts – we’re here for the action … and what can I say? This is filled with some of the most violent and bone-crunching fights I have ever seen … big brawls featuring hammers to the jugular, baseball bats embedded in faces and goons being thrown, having their legs snapped and faces smashed left right and centre. It’s very fast, and superbly filmed, edited and choreographed. Gareth Evans certainly knows how to bleed every ounce of intensity and impact from every punch, kick and stabbing – and it’s pretty incredible. Add to this stand-out sequences involving a duel hammer wielding girl on a subway train, and a brilliantly fast and brutal car chase – and this almost had it all.
The reliance on a twisting plot takes some of the energy away that the first movie had in spades, and every time it stopped to explain something or for more developments, I was just itching for the next confrontation. Perhaps in it’s native language and with a lot of subtitles, I missed some of the finer details, which can happen … so I’ll let it off for the most part. However as a full-on example of martial arts and well, action cinema without any boundaries (or subtlety) this once again nails it. A great sequel.
Verdict: 4 /5