The Raid 2 is a direct continuation of the events of The Raid Redemption. This sequel again stars Iko Uwais as Rama. This time he is working undercover to get revenge for the death of his brother. Rama has to befriend the son of a gangster. The son named Uco is tired of the two decade peace that has occurred between his father and the Japanese gang family. Everything comes to a head when Uco starts to attempt to take control of the empire his father carefully constructed.
Director Gareth Evans was given a seemingly impossible task: improve on The Raid: Redemption and make the fights and the story even more intense and gripping. The story from the first film wasn’t that strong at all and instead functioned as a springboard for all the fight scenes that took place so the second film didn’t have much to live up to on that front. The story in The Raid 2 is much stronger than I ever fathomed it would be. The inclusion of other actors from the original film in different roles was a smart decision because the actors all have previously established chemistry and it shows in the conflicts and conversations the characters have with each other.
The fight scenes in this film are nothing short of incredibly brutal. The first scene which is shot from overhead and watching Rama prepare for the brutal carnage of bones and concussions he will cause is one of the few quiet pensive moments the film provides. The real meat of the film occurs when Rama starts involving himself in Uco’s exploits to control his father’s empire. In a scene, about half way through the film Rama and Uco do a monetary shakedown of a prostitution/domination factory. During Uco’s presentation to squeeze more money out of the manager of the factory, one of his goons decides to try to shoot Uco with a shotgun and then the massive fight scene breaks out. The series of kicks, punches and counters in that scene are nothing short of extraordinary. The choreography that had to mastered by the actors for that scene and many others that occur over the course of this film’s two hour runtime still shocks me to this second.
The other element of this film that impresses me about the work done by Gareth Evans involves how emotionally grounded this film is. The weight of the assignment is a heavy burden for Rama because he left a wife and an infant at home and he wants to be there for them but cannot. A moment occurs late in the film where Rama breaks protocol and calls his wife to let her know he is okay and when he asked to hear his son’s laughter it proved to be moving for me. The film needed a moment like that to show Rama how much guilt Rama had about taking on that operation.
The one problem the film has is that the film takes a while to establish its rhythm. Going back and forth from past to present day proves disorienting for me as well as other audience members in my screening. I feel as if a short narration piece was spoken as we saw events unfold the transition between the past and present may have been more smooth.
Overall Gareth Evans proved that stronger story elements and more brutal and intense fight choreography help his sequel pack quite a punch and rise high above action other martial art films that currently circulate multiplexes around the world.