The Raid 2: a symphony of violence

It is rare that one looks forward to a sequel of a big-budget blockbuster, with Hollywood churning them out so often it’s genuinely surprising when an original film sees the light of the day. But with every rule must come the exception; with every boredom-infused sigh must come the squeal of excitement. On the other end of that squeal is The Raid 2: Berandal.

In 2011, an action masterpiece fleetingly hit UK screens. The Raid, an Indonesian martial-arts flick about a police raid on a mobster-infested tower block, proved a real action tour de force with its stunning choreography and brutal fight sequences. With star Iko Uwais and director Gareth Evans returning for The Raid 2, I’m pleased to report that this sequel matches The Raid’s brilliance, punch by punch.

The Raid 2 picks up just a few hours after the first melee finished as we are thrown back into the exploits of Rama (Uwais), the rookie police officer with a real talent for violence. Not long after the film begins, our protagonist is placed undercover in order to help expose the corruption lurking under the surface of Jakarta’s police force.

Much like the first film, the storyline is simple and really takes second billing to the superb martial arts and action setpieces on display. Thankfully, these deliver to such an extent that you hardly remember there is a storyline at all. The punches, kicks and broken joints snap, crackle and pop with a rare mix of elegance and bare-knuckle brutality. Silat, the Indonesian martial-arts style the film showcases, is a brutal yet fluid style that transfers beautifully on to the big screen. Meanwhile, the action is far more varied than the first film and the constant change of settings and weapons stops the action becoming repetitive.

Still it is the duo of star and director that really makes The Raid 2 special. Uwais gives a more in-depth performance than before, proving he is a great screen presence even when he’s not battering someone. On top of this, The Raid 2 showcases Evans’ expanded visual palette, bringing a haunting, eerie cinematography to the proceedings.

While The Raid 2 is a bit flabby at 150 minutes, with a handful of scenes we could have done without, this is not the sort of film you nitpick. Instead, simply sit back and bask in the skill, and sheer violence, on display.

Jon Fuge is a writer based in London.

Watch the trailer for The Raid 2: Berandal:

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