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Review: The Raid 2 (Sundance 2014)

The Raid 2 (Sundance 2014)
01.22.2014by:
9 10

PLOT: Rama (Iko Uwais) is sent undercover by a task force looking to root out police corruption, and ends up infiltrating the most feared crime syndicate in the city.

REVIEW: For anyone fearing THE RAID 2 would be a simple retread of the original, your fears are unfounded. Using the original film as a mere jumping off point for its own self-contained crime saga, the whispers (or rather screams) from the Park City crowd present at the world premiere suggests that THE RAID 2 might be one of the best action sequels since TERMINATOR 2: JUDGEMENT DAY.

A far more ambitious film than the original, director Gareth Evans revealed in the Q&A that the script for this film actually existed before the original. The only reason it wasn't made was that Evans didn't have the funds to do this sprawling crime saga justice, and after the first film did so well, the main character was rewritten to be Iko Uwais Rama from the original. As such, THE RAID 2 hardly feels like a sequel at all.

People who though THE RAID was a fun, but ultimately simple film will be impressed by the scope of Evans' sequel. If you've seen his acclaimed segment from V/H/S 2- SAFE HEAVEN- the evolution of his craft will be immediately apparent. THE RAID 2 has production values that rival any $200 million plus American actioner, but the script is also surprisingly sophisticated, featuring a whole slew of characters that are more three-dimensional than you'd typically find in the genre.

This time out, Iko Uwais' Rama is much-less of an idealistic hero. Having been left to rot by his police handlers and forcibly separated from his family, Rama's much moodier, and Uwais' performance is bad-ass. More than ever, he feels like the heir apparent to icons like Jet Li & Jackie Chan. He was great physically in the first film, but here he gives a tough, gritty performance, even when he's not kicking the crap out of an opponent (or twenty).

On that score, rest assured that THE RAID 2 delivers. You'd think the 150 minute running time would mean that it would be stretched out by exposition, but that's not really true. While yes, the film is certainly more plot heavy than the original (which barely had one) there's literally dozens of action scenes, with the ones being featured in the trailer, such as the prison mud-brawl, all happening within the first act as only about thirty minutes of the film takes place in a prison setting. This will no doubt be a relief to those who feared this would simply be “THE RAID in prison”. Evans, who also cut and choreographed the film, has an astonishing eye for carnage. One of the problems with modern action movies is that there's no sense of geography. Here, Evans uses the surroundings brilliantly, with an early example being when Rama faces a dozen opponents, and uses a bathroom to isolate opponents two at a time, pulling them each into his little room of pain.

While the fights are easily on-par with the first film- especially the final mano-a-mano which apparently took ten days to film- there's more to the action than just martial arts. There's also dozens of high-voltage gunfights, strikingly different from what you'd see in a Western action film, and an absolutely jaw-dropping car chase that's among one of the finest action scenes ever shot. That may sound like a fanboy knee-jerk reaction, but once the film comes out and people see it, it will be hard to argue that this sequence is not a mini-masterpiece of pure carnage. Add to that the incredible sound design and pulsating score by Joseph Trapanese, and Indonesian composers Aria Prayogi and Fajar Yuskemal (with two Nine Inch Nails instrumental tracks prominently featured) THE RAID 2 just may be the fastest two and a half hour movie you've even seen.

The one element of THE RAID 2 that might divide audiences is that this just may be one of the most violent action movies ever made. The sheer amount of bloodletting makes Paul Verhoven's early actioners look tame by comparison. The violence is just non-stop, and ramped up to horror movie levels with machine gun blasts at close range to the face, and terrible things done with hammers. This is the most violent mainstream film since THE PASSION OF THE CHRIST, and it seems a stretch to think the MPAA will let this slide-by with an R-rating, meaning the theatrical version will likely be cut down to avoid an NC-17.

While the violence may repel some, Evans just has such a great sense of style that it remains acceptable although some will disagree. It's meant to be over the top and operatic, with the film playing like a SCARFACE crossed with the Japanese Yakuza epics of a director like Kinji Fukasaku. With a 120 day shooting schedule, THE RAID 2 clearly was a labor of love for Evans and far from the cash-in sequel some may have anticipated. In its own way, THE RAID 2 is a masterpiece of its genre and -as impossible as it may seem- far superior to the original.

Source: JoBlo.com

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4:22AM on 01/22/2014
Oh wow. I cannot wait for this film. In fact, I'm going to rewatch The Raid: Redemption right now.
Oh wow. I cannot wait for this film. In fact, I'm going to rewatch The Raid: Redemption right now.
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+19
4:33AM on 01/22/2014
I was already so pumped for this movie and now I'm super-pumped! My #1 most anticipated movie in 2014.
I was already so pumped for this movie and now I'm super-pumped! My #1 most anticipated movie in 2014.
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5:01AM on 01/22/2014
Sounds like this won't be a game-changer, but rather a game-ENDER, in that all other action films will seem inferior in comparison.
Sounds like this won't be a game-changer, but rather a game-ENDER, in that all other action films will seem inferior in comparison.
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5:48AM on 01/22/2014
after reading this review i want to watch this more
after reading this review i want to watch this more
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6:12AM on 01/22/2014

Saw it and it's true

Went to the screening, and all said here is true. It IS mind-bendingly amazing. Believe the hype, but the hype will not prepare you for this. This is the kick to the face we've all been clamoring for... and you're going to begging for seconds. I loved this film, it was brutal, it was hardcore, it had balls, and it absolutely went for the jugular. There is absolutely no doubt that Evans is going to land a MEGA deal by the year's end, and I would imagine he's going to catapult to the very top of
Went to the screening, and all said here is true. It IS mind-bendingly amazing. Believe the hype, but the hype will not prepare you for this. This is the kick to the face we've all been clamoring for... and you're going to begging for seconds. I loved this film, it was brutal, it was hardcore, it had balls, and it absolutely went for the jugular. There is absolutely no doubt that Evans is going to land a MEGA deal by the year's end, and I would imagine he's going to catapult to the very top of studio wish lists now. The tracking shot through the cars during the car chase, the hammer brawl, the baseballs... just... flipping' heck. It was incredible.

I was actually sitting right in front of the guy who had the seizure watching this too, and yeah, it was pretty scary actually. I don't know if it was the film, or if it was something else that caused it. So they had to stop the film for a couple of minutes... but despite that everyone was sucked right back into the drama and the action. Which despite the unfortunate event that happened, is a testament to the power of this film and its ability to pull you in and not let go.

Another thing I think worth mentioning in this review may be the fight scenes themselves beyond the choreography. I actually tracked down Evans as he was leaving and asked him about what I sensed was stories happening within the fights themselves. I'm talking full blown three-act stories within the fights. He confirmed that this was a direct intention of the film this time, which for me is brilliant. I mean, this guy isn't only advancing the story through his action scenes, he's also telling a whole other story in his action scenes. Mesmerizing.

The first film was my very favorite Sundance film of all time. This just replaced it.
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9:23AM on 01/22/2014
Great observation and question for Evans.
Great observation and question for Evans.
9:02AM on 01/22/2014
You lucky bastard. Loved your question to Evans on the fights too.
You lucky bastard. Loved your question to Evans on the fights too.
7:17AM on 01/22/2014
thanks for the review fella. mucho appreciation.
thanks for the review fella. mucho appreciation.
6:42AM on 01/22/2014

Was already looking forward to it!!

But after reading C-Bum's review this just raced to the top of my most anticipated films this year!
But after reading C-Bum's review this just raced to the top of my most anticipated films this year!
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6:55AM on 01/22/2014
Wow who needs Batman vs Superman or Spider-man 2? This is what I'm talking about!
Wow who needs Batman vs Superman or Spider-man 2? This is what I'm talking about!
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+10
7:33AM on 01/22/2014
This movie is going to take martial arts movie to the Super level.
This movie is going to take martial arts movie to the Super level.
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8:51AM on 01/22/2014
Let's rocket. I'm pumped
Let's rocket. I'm pumped
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9:01AM on 01/22/2014

Reading this review made me....

PUMPED! I swear when I watched the first one, it was like someone shot me with a thousand needles of adrenaline straight to my heart. The fight scenes are just beautifully shot - just how I like my action movies made! So gonna watch this at the cinema and getting the blu-ray. Wonderful review, this!
PUMPED! I swear when I watched the first one, it was like someone shot me with a thousand needles of adrenaline straight to my heart. The fight scenes are just beautifully shot - just how I like my action movies made! So gonna watch this at the cinema and getting the blu-ray. Wonderful review, this!
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9:22AM on 01/22/2014
Glad you liked it this much and that moving the action away from taking place in a single location doesn't hurt the overall feel and tone of the film.
Glad you liked it this much and that moving the action away from taking place in a single location doesn't hurt the overall feel and tone of the film.
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10:10AM on 01/22/2014
150 minute run time? Hell Yeah!
150 minute run time? Hell Yeah!
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10:10AM on 01/22/2014
Well goddamn, I can't wait any longer. I can only imagine how much more insane The Raid 3 will be.
Well goddamn, I can't wait any longer. I can only imagine how much more insane The Raid 3 will be.
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+6
10:12AM on 01/22/2014
Wow! I absolutely loved the first one, which I've seen at least half a dozen times since I've gotten it on DVD, but I find it incredible this is not only a longer film by almost an hour, but that it's solid all the way through, and is actually better than it's predecessor. The first film had everything I could love in an action film: great choreography, patient, wide cinematography, a variety of action set pieces, and a hero we could really stand behind who not only kicked major ass, but was
Wow! I absolutely loved the first one, which I've seen at least half a dozen times since I've gotten it on DVD, but I find it incredible this is not only a longer film by almost an hour, but that it's solid all the way through, and is actually better than it's predecessor. The first film had everything I could love in an action film: great choreography, patient, wide cinematography, a variety of action set pieces, and a hero we could really stand behind who not only kicked major ass, but was brutal about that ass kicking. To think that this goes above and beyond that, even so far as being more violent is simply incredible. Cannot be more excited for this now. This just shot straight up to the top of my must-see list for the year.
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11:25AM on 01/22/2014

I love me some of the ol' ultra violence

Honestly Evans could've re-released The Raid and called it the Raid 2 and it STILL would've been amazing. I cannot wait for this.
Honestly Evans could've re-released The Raid and called it the Raid 2 and it STILL would've been amazing. I cannot wait for this.
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11:36AM on 01/22/2014
Lucky bastards, get to see this early
Lucky bastards, get to see this early
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+0
12:29PM on 01/22/2014

Car chase sequences

Yet, when the car scenes happen - there are no locals on the streets. If this were to happen realistically there would be hundreds of locals crowding around gawking. Trust me, I grew up there. Still excited to see this though. I just hope the translation is a bit more accurate than the original (i.e. - "Anjing" (dog is Indo) to "You motherfucker") I laughed when I saw that. And the Redemption add-on for the International release is a bit wank I must admit. Just "The Raid" would of been fine.
Yet, when the car scenes happen - there are no locals on the streets. If this were to happen realistically there would be hundreds of locals crowding around gawking. Trust me, I grew up there. Still excited to see this though. I just hope the translation is a bit more accurate than the original (i.e. - "Anjing" (dog is Indo) to "You motherfucker") I laughed when I saw that. And the Redemption add-on for the International release is a bit wank I must admit. Just "The Raid" would of been fine.
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8:02PM on 01/22/2014
There were a few odd scenes in the first movie as well, since I know that a huge shootout from semi-automatic machine guns in front of a building complex in Jakarta would have alerted the anti-terrorist squad as well as half the city. In one of the scenes you can see from the distance that traffic was as normal as ever but none passes by the front of the building.
There were a few odd scenes in the first movie as well, since I know that a huge shootout from semi-automatic machine guns in front of a building complex in Jakarta would have alerted the anti-terrorist squad as well as half the city. In one of the scenes you can see from the distance that traffic was as normal as ever but none passes by the front of the building.
3:07PM on 01/22/2014
I wholeheartedly agree re: the useless "Redemption" subtitle.
I wholeheartedly agree re: the useless "Redemption" subtitle.
12:51PM on 01/22/2014

That's Garth Evans always breaking boundaries!

Seriously as someone who was not the biggest fan of the first film this is probably in my top 5 most anticipated for this year. I can honestly say Evans is one of the most impressive filmmakers out their. If nothing else the fact that hes doing these things on such small budgets. But the fact that they rival almost anything else in the genera of real-world action films. I remember hearing him talking about how they didn't have a Fast and Furious budget for the car chase and yet its likely
Seriously as someone who was not the biggest fan of the first film this is probably in my top 5 most anticipated for this year. I can honestly say Evans is one of the most impressive filmmakers out their. If nothing else the fact that hes doing these things on such small budgets. But the fact that they rival almost anything else in the genera of real-world action films. I remember hearing him talking about how they didn't have a Fast and Furious budget for the car chase and yet its likely better than all those movies combined. That being said I have a feeling this is going to a bit of a challenge to watch its so violent, but how could I possibly not.
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+3
1:17PM on 01/22/2014
Definitly top 3 most anticipated of 2014. So pumped for this.

I still think Evans should work with Tony Jaa…how awesome would that be?
Definitly top 3 most anticipated of 2014. So pumped for this.

I still think Evans should work with Tony Jaa…how awesome would that be?
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7:21PM on 01/22/2014
Damn!! I can´t wait for this film to be released! the first one was epic!
i glad that they improve on the story and development of the characters
Damn!! I can´t wait for this film to be released! the first one was epic!
i glad that they improve on the story and development of the characters
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