The Raid: Redemption, released in 2011 by Gareth Evans, was a revelation – an underrated action masterpiece that soon became a cult classic. It’s premise was simple – a SWAT attempting to escape an apartment building while apprehending a local crime boss. But the action was unprecedented in its realism and artistic brutality. Along with Dredd 3D, The Raid provided a slick, stripped down, old school action film with no fillers or nonsense. It actually served of a more polished version of Evans first film, Merantau. Both films starred Iko Uwais aka Muslim Tony Jaa, and introduced the Indonesian martial art of Pencak Silat to the film universe. Even though the film only grossed 15 million dollars, it cast a large shadow upon the action genre, and led for plans for both a sequel and an American remake.
I’ll keep this review succinct – if you were a fan of the first film, or just a fan of martial arts and Hong Kong action movies, then do yourself a favor and see The Raid 2 ASAP. It’s a lot longer and expanded than the original, and definitely has influences from John Woo and similar crime dramas. Beginning soon after the first film, Iko Ukwais is tasked to go deep undercover to join an Indonesian crime family, with the goal to expose police corruption. It’s a simple story, but given plenty of time to add emotion and depth to the various characters. The bottom line is that it serves its purpose of providing the most visceral action I’ve seen on film….ever. Every punch, kick, stab, gunshot and slam is given the greatest care, and is presented as an elegant ballet of violence.I can’t count how many times I exclaimed, covered my eyes, or just stared in awe at the myriad of set pieces and events, all of which looked painstakingly authentic. Iko Ukwais has acquired the “baddest man alive” title from Tony Jaa, and carries the film with a combination of artistic lethality and quiet grace. He’s joined by a wide array of characters, both old (Yayan Ruhian aka Mad Dog from the Raid) and new…lets just say you’ll never look at a baseball bat or a hammer ever again.
I could go on for hours, but there’s no point – go see this movie. But be forewarned, it will be difficult to be impressed by regular action movies once you attend the Raid 2. -Shahid