The Raid 2


My wife went to Indonesia last year.
Nah, she went by plane.

The Raid 2 (2014)

How do you solve a problem like Maria a Raid sequel? It’s a tough one. The first one was basically a feature length action sequence with little story bits inserted to keep the whole thing from being utterly exhausting. How do you raise the stakes for a sequel? A taller building for Rama to scale? More bad dudes to fight through? Bad idea. Thankfully, The Raid 2 (subtitled “Berandal” in some places) knows just how- sweep the board clear and start playing a whole new game with different rules.

“You apologise! In their language, in our land! Where is your honour?”

So, after Rama (Iko Uwais) beat the shit out of an entire council estate’s worth of people, he’s recruited by Banuwar (Cok Simbara), the head of a secretive anti-corruption task force with a view to take down crooked cops and go after the gangsters bankrolling them. After initially declining his offer, Rama ends up with a personal stake in taking down Bejo (Alex Abbad) a gangster with great ambitions of climbing the crime ladder. Rama must go undercover to get close to the imprisoned son of mob boss Bangun (Tio Pakusadewo) and start bringing it down from the inside. Instead of delivering the same old flat story, The Raid 2 is a sprawling crime epic. It clocks in at significantly longer than its predecessor by about 40 minutes and you get the feeling it genuinely needs that extra elbow room to do justice to the narrative. As there’s more of a story focus this time round, the film’s in need of some proper performances and meets this admirably. Iko Uwais is just as fun to watch as he was in the first film and shows he’s no slouch when it comes to acting either. All the cast are impressive. Show stealer though is definitely Arifin Putra as Bangun’s son, Uco. He’s a petulant little shit with some serious issues barely contained under the surface and I loved every single minute he was on screen. Also worthy of a mention is the barely recognisable Yayan Ruhian (Mad Dog from the first ‘un) as Prakoso, a sort of tramp hitman (trashsassin?) with a penchant for machetes.

The Raid 2 is a bit of a cocktease. Let me qualify that before we get into some areas that may be off topic and distasteful. It knows you bought a ticket for the limb-snapping, flesh-slicing, face-punching action, but it’s in no hurry to get there. You know it’ll give you the business eventually, but it wants to make you squirm for a bit first. We get drip-fed a few bits of violence here and there, but it’s mostly concerned with world building and setting up motivations. This is how it should be. The pacing is just right. It knows when your attention may be starting to dwindle and will then hit you with something awesome. It builds tension incredibly well. By the time some action does kick off, it feels earned and organic. Christ, do you know how refreshing it is to not roll your eyes at Obligatory Action Sequence #73ba getting under way a mere few minutes after the last one for fear of losing the ADD crowd?

The action, hoo boy, the action. I genuinely had no idea how they were going to try and top the last film. More baddies? Nastier weapons? Lasers? Luckily, Evans, Uwais and the creative team are a lot smarter and more imaginative than I am. Whilst my first two predictions were kind of true, they’re implemented in a way that doesn’t seem like needless one-upmanship of what’s come before. There’s some great gunplay on display and there’s a car chase which I genuinely think is the finest car chase I’ve ever seen. Not content with following Rama around, the film also gives us three colourful mini-bosses in the forms of a man only known as “The Assassin” who favours some terrifyingly sharp curved daggers when it comes to wetwork and the brother and sister team of “Hammer Girl” and “Baseball Bat Man” whose chosen weapons should be pretty evident. Some of the shit these people get up to is nothing short of jaw-dropping. Much like the first film, you’ll be laughing and wincing in equal measures.

I suppose my one criticism of The Raid 2 is the fact the the scope is so much bigger, humble ol’ Rama gets lost in the mix occasionally. The film is still undoubtedly his, but his story is a lot stronger this time round and as such you miss him when the film is busy showing us what the three assassins or the various crime bosses are up to. The film gives the relatively incidential Prakoso a whole sympathetic backstory but then doesn’t really do anything with it. To my mind, there are two possible reasons for this slight lack of focus. One, it could be that I was just used to spending time with Rama after the first film had a heavy emphasis on him. Secondly, the Berandal script was written way before The Raid, but deemed too expensive and ambitious at the time and so was shelved until recently where it was dusted off and reworked into a Raid sequel. Still, only a minor niggle and definitely not a film breaking issue.

“It will be a few months. You can’t know where I am and I can’t be seen anywhere near you.”

So yeah, The Raid 2 is awesome. Gareth Evans is my favourite action director right now. Everything has been amped up in this sequel and frankly there’s not much that can touch it in my not-at-all humble, bordering on arrogant, opinion. Roll on The Raid 3.

The Raid


Uwais look on the bright side of life.

The Raid (2011)


It can’t be just me that’s noticed a severe lack of modern chop-socky action of late. It just can’t. What’s happened? Tony Jaa in Ong-Bak is the last significant martial arts sensation I can think of- and he unfortunately drove that series into the ground, making a third film so shitty that he joined a monastery and became a monk for several years. Seriously – look it up. Anyway, whilst I don’t think The Raid‘s Iko Uwais will become a household name, him and his franchise are doing a lot to fill that violent urge within us all to see badasses punch and kick people in the throat.

“*Punch sound*”

So, the plot. Iko Uwais plays Rama, a rookie cop is sent as part of a SWAT team to clear out a towerblock in Jakarta’s slums, run by crime lord Tama Riyadi (Ray Sahetapy) and take the big bad down.  Trouble is, there are 30 odd floors of bad dudes between the gun pigs and Tama and the residents inbetween aren’t fans of bacon. Unable to leave, the cops have to fight their way to the top. Cue bloody mayhem. The Raid is as stripped down as you can get. It has the very basics of a story in place, but you’re not going to get anything particularly well-written or anything willing to step outside of various action clichés. Whilst the story isn’t worth writing home about, that’s not to say it’s to be dismissed completely. It’s pretty efficient at setting up who is who and what their motivations are, a feat to be commended in an age where there are blockbusters films being released that can’t manage that in their total runtimes. There are some nice moments here and there and it’s certainly not bad. The plot is totally not the point though. It’s a framework on which to hang oodles of hyper-violence. It’s very much like a video game and that’s not a negative thing. Iko Uwais is such a find for Gareth Evans. The man not only kicks an unholy amount of arse, but he’s a decent actor too. I really like Joe Taslim as the gruff Jaka and especially love the unhinged Mad Dog, played by Yayan Ruhian.

Before I get into the boring bit of describing the fighting, let me say a few things. The film has a great control of its atmosphere. It’s a grim film and there’s an oppressive sense of tension as Rama and the cops start moving through the building. It really weighs heavy on you. The other thing I really like about the film is its sense of geography. What the balls do I mean by that? Well, the film gives us a clear idea of where our heroes and villains are at all times. We see the SWAT team ascend the floors. We know so-and-so’s apartment is on the 7th floor. We know Tama is at the very top of the complex. It all adds to the immersion and sells the fact this is a real place. Take a look at the modern daddy of the “trapped in a place” films, Die Hard. Next time you watch that film, take note of the surprising amount of time the film dedicates to telling us just where McClane is and where he needs to go next. Anyway. It’s a good thing what this film done. End of point. Also, it’s interesting to note that the film has two soundtracks. I’ve only heard the American one, done by composer Joseph Trapanese (who worked on Tron: Legacy‘s brilliant Daft Punk soundtrack and M83’s equally good Oblivion soundtrack) and Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda (without a sense of confidence /I’m convinced that there’s just too much pressure to take), but I rate it highly. Really adds to the off-kilter feel of the film.

So, the all-important action. It’s fucking awesome and some of the best fight choreography I’ve ever seen. It’s fast, brutal and visceral. I really recommend watching The Raid with a group of similarly-minded people. Like all the best martial arts films, you’ll be laughing with sheer glee one minute and wincing, but still smiling, the next. It’s super violent stuff, no doubt about it, but it’s done with such skill and precision it’s like watching the world’s most hardcore ballet with machetes and broken bones. It’s a massive showcase for the Indonesian martial art of Pencak Silat and by Christ, is it cool. I know calling something “awesome” and “cool” is hardly the best criticism (although it’s never stopped me), but there’s not much else to say about fight scenes. You don’t calmly and intellectually dissect them. You fuckin’ feel them in your core, brother! The Raid is all about action sequences and it does them extraordinarily well. The first time I saw the film, I walked out with a mile-wide smile and and urge to punch and kick everything and everybody in sight. That’s exactly what a good martial arts film should do.

“*Kick noise*”

If you haven’t seen it yet, check out The Raid. It’s light on story but heavy on punches. It’s also one of my favourite action films ever. Plus, the sequel’s out.

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