The Raid 2

*****

It sucked!It'll be on cable.I liked it.It was good!It was awesome!! (2 People gave this 5.00 out of 5)
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Bloody Amazing

The Raid 2

The H-Bomb: SWAT officer Rama (Iko Uwais), one of the few who survived the massive raid on an Indonesian drug lord’s apartment block, is recruited into an elite unit of undercover cops. His mission: to infiltrate the largest crime family in Jakarta and expose the dirty cops on its payroll. This syndicate is run by the aging kingpin, Bangun (Tio Pakusadewo), and in order get on the inside, Rama is sent to the prison where Bangun’s punk-ass son, Uco (Arifin Putra), is doing time, with the intent of befriending this mafia brat and earning his trust.

After saving Uco’s life during a prison yard riot, Rama gets the “in” that he needs, and upon his release some two years later, Uco takes Rama to introduce him to his father, who hires him on as an enforcer. From here, Rama gets more than he ever could have bargained for, as he dives headfirst into the ruthless, dog eat dog cesspool that is Jakarta’s underworld. While living the life of a gangster, Rama will have to cling onto every bit of his humanity in order to keep himself from being completely engulfed by the muck and madness that surrounds him.

That’s where I’m going to end my plot summary. Naturally, there is far more happening than I described, with all sorts of betrayals and back stabbings and mafia power plays going on, but for the sake of keeping this review spoiler free, and palatable, I’ll end it there. What I can say, having just gotten back from seeing The Raid 2, is… holy shit, I can’t feel my brain!

Sweet freakin’ Jesus… I don’t even remember the last time a movie did this to me. The Raid 2 didn’t simply entertain me with it’s exhilarating action, inventive fight choreography, and epic scope… it knocked me flat on my ass, dragged me outside, and stomped the living shit out of me until I was nothing more than a sniveling little bitch lying broken and bleeding in the gutter. And I was more than happy to pay for the pleasure.

All violent hyperbole aside, there are no words in existence that can do justice to what writer/director Gareth Evans has accomplished with The Raid 2. He hasn’t simply made a sequel to The Raid: Redemption, which is itself a masterpiece of pure carnage cinema, he has taken everything that made that film so great and placed it on a much grander stage. The original Raid was essentially a 90 minute action scene with an ultra-simple story that mainly served to set up the onslaught of fist fights and gun fights that follow.

This sequel could have gotten by on simply being more of the same. It could’ve pulled a Taken 2, essentially rehashing the basic plot of the first film, with maybe a few twists and turns thrown in, and it would’ve worked, giving the audience an entertaining, albeit not-quite-as-fresh experience. But Evans isn’t interested in doing that. Instead, he gives us a movie that is certainly a sequel to The Raid, but that also stands on its own, and tells a far, far more ambitious tale.

The Raid 2 is not an action movie about cops trapped in a building full of killers. It is a gritty, operatic crime saga that rivals The Godfather in terms of its narrative expansiveness. It’s not simply a story about an undercover cop infiltrating the mob, it’s also about the power struggle between rival gangs, the power struggles within a gang, the resentful, love/hate relationships between fathers and sons, and, most crucially, loyalty amongst lowlifes.

The narrative is multi-faceted and ensemble oriented, often leaving Rama’s point of view to focus on other characters and their stories, such as the hobo hit man with the mean machete, who remains loyal to Bengun up until his brutally bitter end (if one thing is for certain, nearly every character who passes through The Raid 2 has an ugly fate in store for them). The fact that Evans was able to balance so many story threads without turning the whole thing into an overly convoluted, incoherent cluster-fuck is a testament to the caliber of filmmaker he could very well become.

There is indeed far more plot and far more characters in The Raid 2, which could put off fans of the first film, who loved it for its bare-bones scenario and non-stop action. But fear not, for even though there is a much larger story being told in this 150 minute long film (not a one of those minutes is wasted), the action itself is jacked up several notches. How can that be possible, given how insane the first Raid was? Well, remember The Crazy 88 scene from Kill Bill? Imagine a movie with about ten of those scenes, in which each successive confrontation upstages the one that came before, and that might give you some idea as to the pulverizing mayhem contained within this movie.

Think of any sick way in which you could violently take a person’s life, and odds are there’s some depiction of it in here. Shooting, stabbing, slicing, dicing, hacking, chopping, beating, bludgeoning, burning, strangling… these are not just random verbs I’m throwing at you, these are all the various methods in which the lovely people in this film are dispatched. Life is fucking cheap in The Raid 2. Human beings are basically pigs waiting to be slaughtered, and man, do they get slaughtered. It’s not just the extreme violence that makes the movie what it is, it’s how it’s depicted.

The fight sequences are among the most visceral and imaginatively staged that I have ever seen. In fact, there are no fights in this movie, there are battles. And none of these battles are treated as throwaway skirmishes. Every single one is a major set piece. Be it the beat down in the bathroom stall, or the royal rumble in the prison yard, or the Hammer Girl knocking skulls on the subway train, they are all so ferocious, I could practically feel the punches, and the kicks, and the bones snapping. Take the insane choreography by Yayan Ruhian and star Uwais, and combine it with the stunning cinematography by Matt Flannery and Dimas Imam Subhono, and what we get is ultra-violence turned into an art form. A beautiful, crimson tinted art form.

Hot damn, this flick is fan-fucking-tastic! It whooped my fat ass up, down, and sideways, and when it was all done, I was utterly and completely exhausted… in the best way possible. This is hands down one of the very best action movies I have seen in years. Probably one of the best I’ve ever seen in my life… and I do not say that lightly. As a martial arts/gangster film, it is a masterpiece and a game changer. I don’t like to oversell a movie unless I think the film can measure up, and in the case of The Raid 2, it measures the fuck up. It is bloody amazing, bloody brilliant, and just plain bloody.

~@TheHManTweeteth

 


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