Let’s stress this right off the bat: you don’t need to have seen The Raid to enjoy The Raid 2. During its first ten minutes you’re brought up to speed and subsequently the film sets up its basic premise: cop Rama needs to infiltrate a criminal syndicate to sniff out corrupt officials, but in order to do so he has to win the trust of its leader first. To achieve that goal he’s sent to prison to befriend the man’s son and, after that, intrigue, shady deals and double-crosses ensue. As is the case with everything The Raid 2 does, its storytelling is incredibly efficient and on point, the result being that the movie tells quite the standalone tale, which is why you shouldn’t pass on the film despite having no knowledge of the first one. Additionally you shouldn’t skip The Raid 2 because it is an absolutely brilliant and brutal action film with fight choreography and stunts that have to be seen to be believed.
While, quite surprisingly, a lot of effort has been put into creating an intriguing and interesting story with some very compelling and outlandish characters, The Raid 2‘s plot doesn’t win any accolades for originality: it’s basically a retread of films like the outstanding Infernal Affairs trilogy or John Woo’s Hard Boiled. But, as I pointed out in the opening paragraph, the story is perfectly efficient in giving you enough reasons to stay engaged throughout the film and it really manages to embed the fight scenes in its narrative. There are no action scenes here just for the sake of it: it all makes perfect sense in the context of the story and, because of it, the movie’s pacing is one of the film’s strongest elements. The action isn’t non-stop, because in between those scenes the plot’s being moved forward, which gives the audience some breathing room before the next big fight begins. The Raid 2 is 150 minutes long, but doesn’t feel like it because director Gareth Evans has managed to find the right balance between downtime and uptime, that sweet spot where you’re never bored because the action doesn’t go on for too long and therefore never dulls the senses, and the talk doesn’t go on for too long and consequently doesn’t becomes stale, boring or too much of a distraction from the action.
And it really shouldn’t: the action scenes are the star of The Raid 2 and the reason why you’re going to see this film. Gareth Evans’ brand of fight scenes is ultra-violent and brutal, a beautifully choreographed ballet of blood and bone-shattering beat downs. It’s very diverse too: The Raid 2‘s characters are proficient with fists, claw hammers, baseball bats, karambits, machetes and a variety of household appliances. And just when you think you’ve seen just about everything, they get into a couple of cars and reinvigorate the modern chase scene: The Raid 2 shows you that, by having a lot of action take place inside and outside of cars while the characters are speeding down a highway, it suddenly becomes a lot more interesting to watch. Simply put: The Raid 2 has raised the bar for the modern action movie. The film’s full of ideas and also knows how to capture each jab and stab in a way that, as a viewer, you see and feel every blow. After The Raid 2 there’s no going back to pedestrian fight choreography poorly shot via shaky cam; after The Raid 2 all you want is The Raid 3.
The Raid 2‘s bone-crunching fight scenes and pulse-pounding chase makes it a must-watch for action movie fans. Action simply doesn’t get any better than this. 9/10