Twitter Plot Summary: Forced to go undercover with the mob, skilled martial artist cop Rama attempts to bring them down from within.
Five Point Summary:
1. Prison time.
2. Working for the criminal underworld.
3. Hobo versus apparently everybody.
4. Car chase.
5. Epic finale. EPIC.
The first film in the series caught be my surprise. I knew of it following comparisons drawn between The Raid and Dredd, which on face value were very similarly plotted films but are actually completely different in terms of how they executed their story. The Raid was tightly plotted and a tour de force of action cinema, so understandably expectations were high going in to see The Raid 2.
The story picks up shortly after the events of The Raid, whereby Rama is recruited by a branch of the police force and asked to go undercover with one of the big crime organisations in order to take them down and weed out the corrupt elements of the police force in the process. Finding himself in deeper and deeper with the bad guys, not only must Rama contend with the fact he’s befriended by some deeply dubious people, but he has to spend a ridiculous amount of time away from his family. Within all of this is a power play for control of the entire criminal underworld, led by Bejo. Meanwhile Ucok, son of kingpin Bangun, wants to improve his position within the organisation by any means necessary. Cue an obligatory number of crosses, double crosses and violence as everybody tries to achieve their aims. Meanwhile Rama is stuck in the middle of all of this – lucky for him he almost has the same speed as the Flash when it comes to fighting his enemies.
The core concept of the original film has been expanded upon – and no wonder, given that this was the film Gareth Evans wanted to make in the first place. In place of the necessarily tight structure of the original, now there’s a whole world to play with. Here we get an extended car chase sequence which needs to be seen to be believed, and an array of villainous types that are distinguished by their violent specialist skills. One is lethal with a baseball bat, another is proficient at dishing out pain – in some gloriously bloody detail – with a pair of hammers. Then there’s the man known only as The Assassin, who is on par (and occasionally better than) Rama in terms of pure skill. Evans does his usual trick of being inventive with camera placement and movement, and he has a particular visual style that means fight sequences are clearly set up and none of the action is lost, Michael Bay style, by putting the camera too close to it. That’s not to say that we’re miles away from any action, far from it. Just compare one of Evans’ sequences with something concocted by Michael Bay and you’ll see what I mean.
I’m sad to report that there was a 15-20 minute section where my attention did start to lag, although this may be because I’d been at work all day and the screening was quite late in the evening. It felt like there hadn’t been any action for some time and an unusual amount of time was being spent instead on fleshing out our villains. For those few minutes I was wondering if The Raid 2 could live up to the promise of the original. I needn’t have worried, as the final act is a tour de force of action excellence, neatly resolving the important narrative threads (with just enough left hanging to justify a third film), and displaying a ridiculously amazing grasp of how action sequences can and should be realised on screen. Much like my viewing of Filth in 2013, The Raid 2 managed to affect me on an emotional level, its power derived from an unrelenting final 30 minutes that just doesn’t slow down for a moment. Frankly, it’s a phenomenal piece of work and if martial arts films are your thing you owe it to yourself to see The Raid and The Raid 2 at the earliest opportunity.