I watched The Raid for the first time a few days ago in preparation for this screening, not completely convinced it would be to my taste. I was completely in awe of Gareth Edwards’s choreography and editorial precision, creating an utterly captivating, straightforward action film which made my eyes boggle. Forget your Michael Bays or your Gore Verbinskis, this is what action cinema should be. It is a ruthless, thrilling masterclass.
With expectations suddenly enormous, The Raid 2 is another hugely enjoyable instalment. It doesn’t have the same simplicity and claustrophobia which made the first film so tight but it does boast the same remarkable action sequences.
What makes Gareth Edwards the best? Firstly, there’s the incredible sound design which makes you feel every swing of a fight. It’s not edited at 100 cuts a second so you can actually feel each movement. He has a great eye for where to place the camera, considering unorthodox positions most directors would never imagine. He doesn’t rely on closeups to build intensity but he lets his audience submerge themselves into the full scale of a fight. Then of course you have the violence which is unashamedly over the top, with some incredibly talented martial arts performers in the main roles. It plays out like like the most perverse, gorgeous fantasy. Tarantino-esque. Video games have caused modern cinema to over-engage in excessive violence and action set pieces without the stakes or intensity to back them up but in these films, every single punch (and there are thousands) actually hit hard. Not a beat is missed, there’s a definitive rhythm to Edwards’s work which makes it so visceral and fun.
The Raid 2 picks up hours after the first film. Rama (Iko Uwais) goes undercover in a Jakarta crime family in order to expose police corruption and protect his family, initially from inside prison, ingratiating himself as a foot soldier once he gets onto the outside. There’s some slightly convoluted double crossing but it doesn’t get in the way of some superb imagination from Edwards. There are so many memorable sequences and spectacular assassins. ‘Hammer Girl’ and ‘Baseball Bat Guy’ are every bit as delicious as they sound and I can’t help but feel a little giddy thinking back to some of the film’s finest moments, which all add up to making The Raid 2 so joyous and cathartic. There really is something beautiful in the energy Edwards brings into his action. He just seems to genuinely love what he’s doing and you don’t feel that very often in action cinema these days.
The Raid 2 is out on 11th April in the UK Running time 150 mins. Certificate 18 (UK).
Review by David Rank