The Raid 2 (2014)

Directed by
Amazing action, but bloated and cliched
Reviewed by Simon on 2021-10-03

THE RAID 2 picks up directly after the events of The Raid: Redemption but then almost immediately nullifies them with a plot development that leaves Iko Uwais' Rama the only character that carries over, and thrusting him into a completely different environment - they might as well be separate films.

Instead of the taut, lean masterclass in action-horror that was the first film, the sequel is a sprawling gangster film about turf wars and intergenerational conflict into which Rama is thrust undercover. At 2.5 hours long it seems like the ambition was to make a crime epic to rival THE GODFATHER - albeit with much better action.

Truth be told the plot is so generic that most of it could have been left on the editing room floor and we could have inferred it from a handle of key scenes. Too many scenes drag on as if they are delivering surprising information when they're really just stating the obvious. The first film is one of the best examples of moving the plot forward with action, which the sequel seems unwilling or unable to do.

Apparently this is actually the film Gareth Evans wanted to make originally but he was unable to secure enough funding and conceived of The Raid as a teaser to drum up interest. It obviously worked in that respect, the difference in production values between the two films is obvious - the second film is visually far grander and a more sophisticated production in every respect. It shows that the small budget on the first film forced the team to be focused and inventive, and with that restriction removed the sequel succumbs to bloated self-indulgence.

Thankfully it doesn't forget that the franchise's success was built on extraordinary action choreography and stunt work, and the larger budget does at least allow the team to go larger and louder on that front. It may not be packed as solidly with action, but it does contain plenty and it's at least as impressive. Iko Uwais really is one of the all time great action stars.

The speed and sophistication of the choreography and the brilliance of the execution all ensure that THE RAID 2 will go down as an action classic, and that goes a long way towards making up for the flabbiness of the rest of the film. I'm loathe to say this after the tragic butchery so many Asian films have been subjected to in the past, but it could lose 30 or 40 minutes and be a better film for it though.