The Raid 2

There’s a fight scene at the tail end of The Raid 2 that’s so breathtaking, so brilliant, so inventive and so magnificent it’ll make you want to stand up and applaud. It’s the kind of fight scene that will have many Googling ‘pencak silat classes London’ straight after the film ends in the same excited way men fought each other (in a not-at-all gay way) after watching 300. It’s so fantastic, in fact, that it almost erased my niggling issues with the preceding 2 hours. Almost.

The Raid 2 begins a few hours after The Raid ended, with Rama (Iko Uwais) and his battered colleague Bowo (Tegar Satrya) presenting the incriminating box of cassette tapes and newly found info about the corruption within the police force to Banwar (Cok Simbara), the chief of Jakarta's anti-corruption task force. Only he’s not interested in some dusty old tapes and hearsay – oh no! – he wants to put poor little Rama in prison (With that cherub-like face? Good thing he knows how to fight.) so he can name and shame the corrupt while bringing down the city’s biggest crime family at the same time.

Despite being a work of utter, Die Hard-tinged brilliance many idiots people lamented the lack of character development and plot because apparently snapping bones and exploding fridges aren’t entertaining enough. So, with that in mind, there’s a lot more going on in this one apart from people fly-kicking bitches across the room, and it’s not entirely successful. A cop infiltrating a crime syndicate is the simplest of action movie storylines but here it becomes convoluted very quickly. As well as that we have Uco (Arifin Putra, the spawn of Elvis and some Indonesian chick who definitely needs to pass on his skincare tips) who’s desperate to prove himself to his pops, a Japanese crime family, a self-made gangster/1970s-style New York pimp and some other bastards who need no introduction because who cares they’ll be dead soon anyway. So much is happening that massive portions of the film pass without Rama and I even forgot the point of him being undercover until he reminded us with a phone call to Banwar.

Usually that kind of thing wouldn’t bug me when the painstaking work put into each action sequence is so evident, but because it fails to flow as nicely as The Raid - which builds up slowly before getting its balls out for the final forty minutes – it stammers and splutters along carried only by the originality of the action. This is not really a criticism of writer/editor/director Gareth Evans; he clearly decided to have each fight scene further the story for a reason, but in the end it does feel like it bites off a bit more than it can chew.
The same can’t be said for the action, of course. From the toilet battle to the muddy prison riot everything is so expertly choreographed and edited you could watch it regularly and your eyes would still have trouble capturing everything that’s happening. Clearly no longer feeling constricted by a location, Evans goes crazy with wide tracking shots in every conceivable surrounding. (One fight even takes place in snow. It doesn’t snow in Indonesia.) There’s quite a bit more gore this time round also, with numerous throats being slashed, necks ripped out, bones cracked and blood splattered – nay, pouring – out of everyone on screen. I’m not one for gore and as a result, when I nipped to the loo during my second viewing of the film half of my make up had migrated to the bottom of my eye because I was holding them closed so much. No other film has ever done this before, so that’s something.

The brutal action is offset by some delight touches of humour throughout. When Rama screams "Run!" to a colleague who just took a bullet in the leg you can't help but giggle and the same can be said for Hammer Girl (Julie Estelle) when she grabs her claw hammers before being dragged off for battle by her brother, Baseball Bat Man (Very Tri Yulisman). If the names didn't give it away, those two are the silliest of the bunch but are most likely to be everyone's Halloween costumes this year. It feels somewhat unfair to give Gareth Evans a pass because he's created something so entertaining on such a basic level when someone like Michael Bay gets hammered but whevs, I'm doing it. The Raid 2 isn't as perfect as The Raid but it's pretty damn good.