An Unforgiving Roundhouse To The Senses
by Kevin J. Johnson
THE RAID 2 is the bone-shattering, jaw-smashing, wince-inducing sequel to Gareth Evans’ cult classic masterpiece. The director returns alongside star and co-choreographer Uko Iwais who plays Rama, a lone wolf cop sent deep undercover to stop one of the most vicious crime syndicates in Jakarta.
This movie isn’t just unnecessarily violent, it’s GLORIOUSLY violent. It’s the most violent movie I’ve ever seen, and I’ve seen my share of violence in cinema. I was tired just from watching this sucker; I can’t imagine how exhausting filming, blocking, editing and putting these action setpieces together were.
2012’s THE RAID (subtitled REDEMPTION for the U.S.) was relentless and lean in its pacing, where THE RAID 2 is more of a crime urban epic, almost a full hour longer than the first. There are fits and bursts of action during the slow protracted outlay of the plot, growing the tale in scope and complexity. All of that, dudes and dudettes, is just set-up for an Indonesian Ragnarök of knee strikes, elbow drops and headbutts.
This is the best action sequel I’ve ever seen. It ups the stakes the same way that The Matrix Reloaded and other sequels have without dropping the ball or betraying its core aesthetics (the way The Matrix Reloaded and other sequels have). If you want to learn about geography and staging fight scenes, watch THE RAID 2. If you want to watch one of the most unforgiving car chases ever lensed, watch THE RAID 2. If you want to bare witness to one of the greatest final Boss Battles ever, watch THE RAID 2.
I haven’t seen an action sequence this intense, and sustained in length, since 1999’s THE MATRIX. That’s a fair statement. There isn’t the reliance on digital wizardry that gave us Bullet-Time or the mind-bending philosophy, but THE RAID 2 is just savage. It’s brutal, yo. I have to make up a new word to describe the movie, somehow combining savage, brutal and intense into one.
I’m giving this an IMAX rating, even though THE RAID 2 isn’t getting an IMAX release. Just sit in the front row for this one (or as far back as you possibly can). Flinch, wince, and groan/cheer/squeal in sheer jaw-dropping delight. What the hell did I just see? I guess I gotta see it again to find out.
Note: Watching THE RAID: REDEMPTION is recommended, but not necessary. But seriously, you should watch it regardless.
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