The Raid 2

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

The Raid

Viewed – 12 October 2012  DVD

This has been hyped for a while as one of the best action movies ever made.  An Indonesian throw-back to the famed Hong Kong kung-fu thrillers that made names out of the likes of Jackie Chan and Jet Li, this follows a group of cops as they plan and execute a raid on a tower block governed over by a ruthless drugs baron.  Yet once inside it becomes obvious that the petty criminals are more organised and deadly than first thought, and so what was once a simple get in, get out mission becomes a fight for survival.

Almost from the start this is a frantic, pulse-pounding actioner, with tightly edited camera work, an adrenaline fueling score and a wealth of very violent but superbly choreographed fight sequences.  At times I felt the pure no-holds-barred brutality was a bit unnecessary and going for an ultra-realisitic approach made this a very different beast to its Hong Kong brethren.  Clearly though, there is some real talent here as everything is very convincing and there surely must have been some nasty injuries during the making.  Main star Iko Uwais is a real find, and is showcased in many of the fights, leaving me quite literally breathless in my seat – damn that guy can kick some ass!  One particular three-way showdown has to be seen to be believed.

Director Gareth Evans, yes not Indonesian has put together a determined and very exciting movie that although the story is basic, offers up enough twists and turns to keep this viewer glued.  The best action movie ever made then?  No – it doesn’t quite have the depth of say, John Woo at his best (The Killer etc) and lacks variety.  Also the motivations of one guy towards the end are a tad confusing.  Yet these are small gripes for what is otherwise an accomplished piece of friday-night entertainment … and a must see for true action-enthusiasts – like me.

Verdict:  4 /5