The use of superlatives is something I try my utmost to avoid when I sit down to review a film; they should be saved for the crème of the crop, the movies that really blow you away and redefine your expectations- movies like The Raid 2.
When Gareth Evans directed The Raid a few years ago it would have been difficult for him to imagine the impact it was going to have. The Indonesian funded martial arts/action movie about a group of cops in Jakarta who are given the task of taking down a gang leader who sits on the highest level of a 30 story block of flats became a word of mouth hit and reminded us all just how beautiful and brilliant bloodshed and fighting could actually be. He transformed brutality into an art form as his lead character Rama, played by Iko Uwais expertly dispatched his victims with the martial art Pencak Silat.
The great thing about The Raid was a fight scene would come along and blow you away, and you’d sit thinking, well you can’t top that- but then it would and it would continue doing so for 100 breathtaking minutes of madness. So when The Raid 2 was announced the logical assumption from many people was ‘well surely he can’t top the first one.’ By all means go into the movie with that assumption, by doing so the movie may manage to blow you away even more.
The Raid 2 moves Rama out of the tower block and into the city- he is tasked with going undercover in a prison to befriend the son of one of Jakarta’s leading mob bosses. Through doing this his ultimate goal is to bring down corruption in the city by unearthing the identities of corrupt officials. But you don’t need boring too much with the plot details. The prison provides us with the movies first jaw dropping sequence- a fight scene amongst prisoners with a few prison guards chucked in for good measure. The sequence takes place outside in a wet muddy prison yard. Skulls are cracked, bones are broken and throats are slit- Evans’, along with Uwais and Yayan Ruhain who choreographed the fight sequences create a sequence that is unrivalled anywhere else in cinema right now. Kicks and punches fly in dramatic fashion, the sequence composed with such elegance that it transforms violence into a performance; a ballet where a crushed skull is the final act.
This is only the first of the movies incredible sequences- taking on the ‘you can’t top that’ approach of the first movie we are treated to an exciting showdown in a night club, the finest car chase since The French Connection and a showdown with two villains that have become known simply as Baseball Bat Man and Knife girl. These two also take centre stage for a sequence in the movie that was reminiscent of The Godfather, an efficient handling of business where mercy is the last item on the menu.
If all of that isn’t draining enough the movie then provides us with its final showdown, a clash in a kitchen between Rama and one of the gang’s lead assassins that is simply put, the greatest fight sequence I’ve ever seen on the big screen (I did warn you about the superlatives). The build up is so simple but so effective and as the two men draw in to fight it feels like a heavy weight pay per view clash, one that we have been waiting 2 and a half hours for.
Liberace was once quoted as saying that too much of a good thing is wonderful, in the case of Gareth Evans and The Raid 2 I couldn’t agree with him more. The Raid 2 leaves you battered. A no nonsense thrill ride from start to finish that pulls its punches with such precision and delivers its kicks with brutal accuracy that it rightfully earns itself the claim of one of, if not the finest action sequels ever made.