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Wayne Independent - Honesdale, PA
  • Movie review: 'The Raid 2' follows the greatness of 'The Raid'

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  • It’s been two years since “The Raid,” the insanely action-filled cop versus criminal martial arts thriller, became an unexpected hit on the art house circuit. It did so well at so many box offices, no one should be surprised that there’s now a sequel.
    What is a surprise is that this follow-up to the simply told and extremely violent original is so different in tone. No, not in the area of violence. In fact, the sequel ramps that part of it way up. There are fights in this film that involve fists and feet and knives and guns and fast-moving vehicles (and two of the characters are named Hammer Girl and Baseball Bat Man). The tonal difference is that in the midst of the carnage, there’s also a terrific, multi-character-driven story being told.
    “The Raid 2” begins on the same day “The Raid” ended, with exhausted and badly beaten cop Rama (Iko Uwais) being congratulated for his work involving the vanquishing of drug lords and dirty cops in the first film’s scary apartment building setting. But now, in order to keep more bad guys and dirty cops from causing harm to Rama’s family, he’s declared dead (by his good cop boss) and thrown into prison, undercover, in order to get close to much bigger targets.
    Writer-director-editor-fight choreographer Gareth Evans, who is from Wales but made both films in Indonesian language and locales, wastes little time getting to the action, with a fantastic and sprawling rainy day prison yard fight exploding just a few minutes in, involving prisoner vs. prisoner confrontations right alongside guards vs. prisoners melees. But soon after, the story begins to take shape, with Rama getting close to and earning the respect of another prisoner, Ucok (Arafin Putra), whose dad is one of the big local crime lords, Bangun (Tio Pakusodewo). This means that, for reasons of loyalty, there’s a syndicate job waiting for our undercover cop hero when he and Ucok eventually get out of the slammer.
    But, with shades of Shakespearean storytelling, Bangun ends up seeing Rama as a better successor to his crown than his own son. Yes, it’s a classic case of a power-hungry son wanting only to be as good as his father but being spurned. Yet before anything comes of that, there are mentions of trouble in the air among bad guy factions, specifically the Bangun family and the Goto family, both of whom want to be crime rulers. And don’t forget that there are still bad cops out there. Complications pile up in areas of plotting, and there’s an abundance of shifting allegiances among the power players, but the script and story always remains clear and focused.
    Page 2 of 2 - And then the film effortlessly gets back to what made its predecessor so great: relentless action. There’s a brand new revisiting of a sequence in “The Raid” that had heads bashed into light fixtures, faces smashed into walls, and bodies thrown through windows. But then the ante is upped. Evans has no problem presenting three separate, equally violent and fast-moving scenes happening simultaneously, and the fights continually get better and more vicious. There will be much discussion among genre aficionados as to which is the more insane sequence: the non-stop bloody fight in a white-tiled kitchen, or a high-speed car chase that includes all five people in one vehicle duking it out as well as the joining in of various other cars and motorcycles, the passengers and drivers of which are firing pistols and Uzis.
    What really puts this film over the top is Evans’ stunning editing of these sequences. They’re all filmed in short pieces and brilliantly strung together into lengthy scenes that are absolutely breathtaking. I can think of no better action twin bill than “The Raid” and “The Raid 2.” The story in the second one far surpasses the first in scope and depth, but as a pair, they are two of the most exciting films I’ve ever seen.
    Ed Symkus covers movies for More Content Now.
    THE RAID 2 Written and directed by Gareth Evans You won’t know or be able to properly pronounce any of the actors’ names Rated R
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