The Raid: Redemption was one of the great action movies in recent memory. The film, which followed rookie cop Rama as he infiltrated a rundown apartment in pursuit of a vile mobster — which, of course, required kicking and punching his way through an army of baddies — brought director Gareth Evans and his star Iko Uwais international acclaim. And now they’re back with The Raid 2: Berandal. Here’s the official synopsis.
Immediately following the events of the original, The Raid 2 tracks Officer Rama as he is pressured to join an anticorruption task force to guarantee protection for his wife and child. His mission is to get close to a new mob boss, Bangun, by befriending his incarcerated son, Uco. Rama must hunt for information linking Bangun with corruption in the Jakarta Police Department while pursuing a dangerous and personal vendetta that threatens to consume him and bring his mission — and the organized crime syndicate — down around him.
The film had its premiere earlier this week at the Sundance Film Festival, with Evans and Uwais in attendance. The reviews have been rolling in, and by all accounts, Evans and Uwais have another hit film, albeit a very violent and intense one, on their hands. (How intense? The Sundance screening was delayed for 5 minutes because someone passed out during it.)
The Raid 2 is a full force actioner, just as tightly cut at almost an hour longer. It’s every bit a sequel to the first film and an expansion of the Merantau universe. Evans has expertly crafted a complex and interesting tale that weaves through the numerous bloody fight set pieces. And yes, the action in the sequel is even more impressive, even more artistic, and even more vicious than the first film.
…the film marries the criminal scope of The Departed (or Infernal Affairs) to a kind of virtuoso, kinetic violence that goes far beyond shock-value torture porn. No matter how carefully the shots are framed and planned, every fight is dirty, and even the hundredth wincing, messy, eye-gouging, jaw-ripping entanglement feels like a rebuke to the over-choreographed ballet of so much of Hollywood’s stylized, CGI-driven effects.
Drew McWeeny, “ ‘The Raid 2’ delivers visceral thrills on an epic scale”:
…with this movie, Evans establishes that he can handle any sort of action sequence, not just ones that involve hand-to-hand combat. There’s a car chase in this movie that is tremendous fun, and there are a few moves he pulls that are so technically accomplished that I’m not actually sure what I saw. I can’t wait to dig in and start to take apart the magic trick, but only because it actually makes me admire Evans more, not less.
Visceral in the extreme, the bravura kickboxing and martial arts mayhem still take pride of place, choreographed again by lead actor Iko Uwais and Yayan Ruhian, who also appears, though as a different character from last time. But Evans expands the hardware beyond the usual guns and knives, giving some of his assassins their own special tools. Those include a baseball and bat, a pickaxe, some cool claw daggers and a pair of hammers wielded by a deadly female (Julie Estelle). There’s also a sensational extended car chase sequence that withstands comparison to anything in the Fast and the Furious franchise.
Bryan Bishop, “Gareth Evans mixes gangster drama and epic action”:
With a bigger budget and even grander ambitions, The Raid 2 is a sprawling epic that takes memorable characters, polished filmmaking, and truly audacious action choreography and spins them all into a delirious gangster drama that’s the most invigorating action movie I’ve seen in years.
Watch the trailer below.
And here’s a funny little video of Uwais showing off some of his skills at Sundance (apparently after someone asked him if he was really as fast he was in the movie).
The Raid 2 officially opens here in the States on March 28.