In the year 2011 martial art fans got a glimpse of Iko Uwais amazing skills. The Raid: Redemption was an instant hit for its ferocious action, intense feelings of claustrophobia and hyper violence. Director Gareth Evans went down as having made one of the best action films of all time. So after all the hoopla, it was obvious that the film would get a sequel. How could it not? People were enthralled by Uwais dominion of pencak silat, which he had been practicing since he was very young, that it was apparent he should get more airtime.
The Raid 2 forgets all about the enclosed spaces, and instead goes the direction of Jakarta’s ganglands and all the intricacies of gang violence in said place. It picks up where The Raid: Redemption left off. Rama agrees to go undercover in order to exploit the corrupt police members who protect the gangs. But to accomplish this, Rama must become friends with Uco, son of the leader of Bangun, one of the big gangs.
Many things happen in this film; sadly, I think that is what fails for me. The story is convoluted and not terribly surprising. It’s clogged up with notions of grandeur. It replaces what I thought was fantastic about the first film, the frenetic pace and the claustrophobia, with a big sprawling city and some pretty boring and sometimes unnecessary scenes. The Raid 2’s core problem, for me, is its departure from the first.
Now, don’t get me wrong. The film’s display of martial arts is fantastic. The choreography and stunt work is top notch. But I think they gave the director too much freedom. Take Hammer Girl and Baseball Bat Man for example, they have weird quirks and character traits, but you don’t really care about them (also, hitting people with line drives? Ridiculous). Sure, they are simple fodder for Uwais’ character to dispose of, but they appear so suddenly that it’s hard to appreciate them. Then there is the fact that awesome characters like Prakoso (Yayan Ruhian) get little airtime.
Nitpicking aside, this is a great martial arts film. Uwais’ and his co-stars’ display of martial arts from are incredible. The last fifteen minutes of the film are intense and filled with awesome fights. I personally preferred the first film, but this is still a fine example of what action films are capable of. I recommend it to anyone who is interested in martial art films in general. Check The Raid 2 out.