The Raid 2 Blu-ray Review
In 2011, audiences were treated to THE RAID, a simple action movie showcasing the Indonesian martial arts form, Silat, led by star Iko Uwais. Although the story had very little plot or character development, I was still blown away by the direction of Gareth Evans and the fight amazing fight scenes. We live in a time where fast editing and shaky cams have replaced true martial arts ability, so THE RAID was a welcome change to days when you actually had to know how to fight to land the lead in a martial arts film. That brings us to THE RAID 2, which picks up a few hours after the original film and our hero finds himself in a tough situation; his destruction of an entire army of people will soon make him a target to the criminal world and his knowledge of the underhanded police chiefs have made him a target to his own bosses. With his back against the wall, Rama decides to go undercover to help weed out more dirty cops.
So if you were expecting Rama to have to fight his way through another building for 2 hours, you’ll be disappointed. Instead, Evans has crafted a much more complex story that relies less on huge fight scenes to move the story along and more on traditional plot devices. Sure, there are still plenty of fight scenes, but it’s not the non-stop onslaught we got with the original. Rama is put in several different situations, including fending off a prison attack, as well as helping his new criminal “friends” take on a group of drug dealers. We also meet a few new villains, the highlight of which is a brother sister duo where the sister wields two hammers and the brother uses a baseball and bat on his victims.
But the highlight of the film is the last 30 minutes or so, where Rama actually does have to fight his way through a building, this time a restaurant, starting in the basement and making his way to the main dining room. It’s in this final act that THE RAID 2 delivers on everything you wanted and so much more. Rama takes on the brother-sister duo in an incredibly entertaining and impressive fight scene, only to face an opponent that happened to have beaten him earlier that day. That final fight scene is perhaps the greatest one on one fight scene ever put on film. And given my affinity for martial arts films and great action in general, I don’t make that statement lightly.
The rest of the plot works to some degree, but does tend to get in the way. Rama has to befriend Uco, a spoiled brat hell bent on taking over his dad’s crime ring. A lot of time is spent on Uco and his incompetence, as well as his struggles with his father. I appreciated what Evans was trying to do, but there was a long stretch there where we didn’t see Rama at all and a Raid movie without Rama is like a Superman movie without Superman. I would have liked to see the story focus more on Rama and it would have been nice to give Iko Uwais a chance to flex his acting muscle. He’s not going to win an Oscar anytime soon, but he reminds me of Jet Li in the sense that he’s not only an incredible martial artist, he’s also a charming guy that audiences can root for.
THE RAID and THE RAID 2 might feature the same lead character, but they’re very, very different movies. However, fans of the first should appreciate the second film’s attempt to up the ante a bit and craft more of a story around the amazing fight scenes. Even if martial arts films aren’t for you, I highly recommend watching the final 30 minutes or so (starting when Rama runs his car into the loading dock of the restaurant). It’s some amazing action and truly worth the price of admission.
THE RAID 2 BLU-RAY REVIEW
Video: THE RAID 2 looked fantastic on Blu-ray. The original had a natural graininess to it, but now that Evans has money to play with, the film quality looks amazing.
Audio: The audio was just as impressive.
Commentary with Gareth Evans: Evans gives a great commentary for THE RAID 2, going into detail on just about everything you’d want him to. He offers a fast moving, information packed commentary that fans of the film should enjoy.
Gang War Deleted Scene (4:35): A decent deleted scene that wouldn’t add much to the film, but was still fun to see.
Ready for a Fight: On Location (12:52): This feature focuses on the various locations and how they achieved some of the shots they achieved.
The Next Chapter: Shooting a Sequel (10:46): This is more of an overarching, broad featurette that covers the making of the film, the bigger story and the connection to the first film.
The Cinefamily Q&A with Gareth Evans, Iko Uwais and Joe Trapanese (44:07): These three sit down for a question and answer session where they cover a lot of what has already been covered, but it was fun to see how excited they were for the film and how much they enjoyed working on it.
Violent Ballet: Behind the Choreography (19:02): This is probably what fans of the film want to see as this covers the fight choreography in detail, giving us a closer look at how they shot some of the more complex fight scenes.
Trailer and Previews