Dave’s 3-Word Review:
Martial Arts Godfather?
I’ve said it once and I’ll say it again. I’m not the biggest fan of foreign films because I’d rather watch a movie than read it. That means that yes, I do prefer an audio dub with an English speaking track…which is what I watched The Raid 2 with. So sue me. All that means is that I can’t review the acting ability of any of the actors, but I can’t exactly say that’s the reason I watched it in the first place. No, the reason I watched it was because the first film in the franchise blew me away. The Raid: Redemption was by far one of the best displays of martial arts I’ve ever seen in film, if not the best. The choreography alone was intense and the practical and visual effects were incredible…so I wanted the same with the sequel. Did I get it…well…yes and no.
Apparently, the plot of this film doesn’t take place much longer than the events of the first, but in all honesty…it doesn’t matter, nor is it easy to really tell the time frame. This time around, Rama is sent undercover into, well, what seems like a Godfather type scenario. He does this because they are connected to the murder of his brother, and he’s basically just going after them for revenge. Meanwhile, a few malevolent and memorable enemies come into the picture to once again create unstoppable and unfathomable violence and mayhem.
So this film is long. Two and a half hours of nonstop action? No, not really. It’s promoted as such, but in all actuality, they focused a lot more on story development this time around, and I’ll be honest. Because I’m not always the biggest fan of foreign films, I tend to be biased for the ones I do watch. That means a simple plot with a ton of fighting. When you have too much story, Dave gets confused, unfortunately. This is an Indonesian film, that means everyone has names that American audiences can’t connect with and suddenly…they lost track of the story. Correction. I lost track of the story because it was hard to follow, even with an English dub. I honestly just wanted to see the fighting and cared less about how they got there. That doesn’t mean give us a crap story, that just means give us something easy as a glue for the success of a basic story all around. In my opinion, they aimed too high in that regards.
There were a few different things in regards to direction that I’d like to point out. I love that they accentuated Rama’s character this time around. It’s no question that he’s the hero – while the first film had a number of good guys fighting the same fight – however, there was no question about it. Rama led this film strongly. Also, the diverse cast of characters was really good in regards to villains. There are three distinct “bad guys” in this movie that you will be unable to forget. The film takes its time introducing them before the final battle…which of course, was brilliant. Also – before I get into the fighting, know that it wouldn’t have worked so well if it weren’t for the camera work as well as practical and visual effects throughout the film that really sink in while you’re watching.
Onto the fighting. Like the first movie, the choreography was simply insane, but the setting was a little different. The first film took place in one building. Level by level, the difficulty advanced. It’s different when the difficulty is spread around a city, but at the same time – that opens the possibility for more beautiful scenery as well as items to use in a potential fight…so I’m torn. Regardless, the fights were absolutely insane and heart-throbbing…especially the end fights. Simply gorgeous in every way imaginable.
You’ll have a really hard time keeping your jaw off the ground when the movie actually gets into that action and those fight scenes. It won’t matter if you have a problem with anything else in the movie…because at that point – all you can think of is that it was shot beautifully and carefully, and in return – it looks amazing. The Raid 2 is yet another film that is added to my collection of “Best Martial Arts Films of All Time”.
As a sequel, they feel the need to expand on everything, including a more complex story. In all honesty, it didn’t need a complicated story. One of the best things of the first movie was the simplicity of the thing. The simpler the plot, the more fights you can fit in, the shorter it will be, and the shorter it will ultimately feel. So…great job on the fighting, but the story scenes had me snapping my finger waiting for something to actually happen.
All the punches and kicks to the body of the actors were real.