Rajeev Masand – movies that matter : from bollywood, hollywood and everywhere else

May 30, 2014

Blood simple

Filed under: Their Films — Rajeev @ 11:38 pm

May 30, 2014

Cast: Iko Uwais, Yayan Ruhian, Arifin Putra

Director: Gareth Evans

The Raid 2, like its 2011 predecessor, is not everyone’s cup of tea. That film about a squad of Jakarta cops who fight for their lives against a seemingly never-ending stream of heavily armed gangsters holed up on every floor of a fortress-like apartment block, established Gareth Evans as one of the most inventive action directors of our time, and also raised questions about the videogame nature of the relentlessly brutal action on screen. Anyone who enjoyed that film, however, will require no persuading at all to check out its sequel.

The Raid 2 picks up right where the earlier film left off. Sole surviving cop, Rama, once again played by charismatic martial arts expert Iko Uwais, reluctantly agrees to go undercover to flush out corrupt cops colluding with the Mob. Rama gets himself thrown into prison, where he saves the life of a fellow inmate, the son of a Mafia boss, who welcomes him into his ring after they’re released, giving Rama exactly the access he needs for his operation.

There’s a little too much talking in the film’s first half, and way more plot than was required here. But as soon as a mass brawl breaks out in a rainy, muddy prison yard, you’re reminded exactly why you’re a fan of these movies.

The violence, expectedly, is often stomach-churning. Breaking free from the confines of the building complex from the first film, Evans takes the action into the streets this time, staging impressive set-pieces in warehouses, noodle bars, and even the underground, often in long single takes, his camera bobbing around his actors, following their every punch and move. A female gangster in a little white dress and oversized sunglasses unleashes a bloodbath in a subway train, armed with a claw hammer in each hand. A speeding car chase sequence will leave you feeling rattled and out of breath. Honest confession; I found myself turning away as heads were being bashed into the concrete and necks and bones routinely broken. But it was all strangely fascinating too.

If action films are intended strictly to deliver thrilling scenes of pulse-racing violence, then The Raid 2 delivers just that – with relish and energy. Dubbed into English from its original Indonesian version, it’s a little disconcerting at first to hear Asian characters speak with American accents, but an hour into the film, it’s not the dialogue you’re paying attention to.

I’m going with three out of five for The Raid 2. If you have the stomach for it, this is pretty good fun.

(This review first aired on CNN-IBN)

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