For those that haven’t seen The Raid, the plot essentially is this: there are bad guys in a tower block and a SWAT team is sent in to get the bad guys. In fact, I just looked up the tagline from the poster and it was “1 ruthless crime lord, 20 elite cops, 30 floors of chaos.” That was the extent of the story, and it was frigging awesome, one of the best action films I’d ever seen.
With all that being said, I was pretty excited when I saw earlier this week that Netflix had added the sequel. When I pressed play I was surprised to see that it was 2 and a half hours long, but by the time the credits were rolling I had to ask myself if 2 hours and 30 minutes had really elapsed, because the time flew by.
The first thing to mention is that everything is bigger: the running time, the location, which takes in the whole city, the storyline, the action, the violence, everything. Now, I’m going to admit something that will probably seem a bit strange seeing as I’m saying how much I enjoyed this and the previous film, but I actually find violent films hard to watch and most of the time you’ll find me watching the kind of fight scenes seen in films like this between my fingers, closing my eyes in anticipation of limbs being horrendously snapped by way of some killer martial arts move.
I’m very squeamish when it comes to things like limbs being snapped and left in weird angles, or anything eye related, or for that matter people getting shot in the head. To be honest, when dealing with things like that it’s really only the second time around when I know where these kinds of bits are that I can watch a little more comfortably. Obviously I have to have really enjoyed a film to actually go ahead and have a second viewing and there are plenty of violent films that haven’t engaged me enough to warrant that.
The next thing I want to draw attention to is that the athleticism of the actors involved is incredible, and the fight sequences are choreographed beautifully. All of this is allowed to shine by the directing of Gareth Evans, which is exemplary. That the Welsh born Evans has now helmed two classic (in my opinion at least but I know it’s an opinion shared by many others) Indonesian martial arts films is one of the more interesting stories in recent years, as well as the relationship with his leading man Iko Uwais, who incidentally is part of the fight choreography team and whose performance underpins the whole spectacle. He really is phenomenally good and a joy to watch.
I don’t think you can watch this film and not be impressed by the sheer energy and execution of an incredibly ambitious sequel, plus the whole thing looks utterly gorgeous, testament to the stellar work of the two cinematographers (Matt Flannery and Dimas Imam Subhono). The set pieces too are stupendous – all of them are exceptional so I won’t just pick one – and the final fight is incredible.
I realise this is quite a gushing review and it would be remiss of me not to say that it’s not without its faults, for example the plot is convoluted and hard to follow and it certainly isn’t a film for everyone in terms of the violence but, it’s just so damn fun.
So to end, if you fancy an action double bill, you could do worse than checking out The Raid 1 + 2 this weekend on Netflix.
I know I didn’t exactly discuss the storyline in great detail here but to be honest when it came down to it, the plot – which, whilst overly complicated in execution, is quite standard fare featuring police corruption and that oft-seen trope of a good guy having to infiltrate a criminal organisation – is secondary to the visceral, emotional impact that the film delivers through it’s action sequences. The energy and the impact of the sequences and set-pieces transcends the plot, in my eyes at least.
Check out the trailer below.