So once again we have survived.

The Raid 2

tn_raid2THE RAID 2 has alot of what made THE RAID an instant classic:

1. Incredible fight performances and choreography by Iko Uwais (returning as silat-practicing rookie cop Rama, now undercover as “Yuda” [weirdly that was also his name in MERANTAU]), Yayan Ruhian (as a new character named Koso, since his great villain character Mad Dog eventually gave in and died) and a whole bunch of other great martial artists.

2. Action scenes crammed with fast, unrelenting brutality including many, many, many stabbings, headshots, bodyparts smashed through walls, slit throats, broken bones, etc.

But there’s one thing that’s really different:

THE RAID stood out by having very little setup and launching almost immediately into nearly non-stop action for its 101 minutes, with its minimalistic characterization and plot woven into the battles and occasional breaks. THE RAID 2 is 2 1/2 hours and takes its sweet ass time getting to the action, which is threaded through a complicated and somewhat difficult to follow gang warfare story involving more than 10 main characters from many different factions with different secret betrayals and shit going on. The first one took place in one day, this begins immediately after but spans a few years. In the first section it also skips around in time, creating suspense by repeatedly cutting away from the moments before Rama has to fight like 20 guys in a prison bathroom. It even has the balls to set up a big fight (Rama has to beat up a politician’s son bad enough to get himself into prison to befriend his target) that it skips over and never comes back to. So story-wise it’s pretty much the opposite of THE RAID.

That’s not some slip-up. Writer/director Gareth Evans really wanted to tell this story first, and only came up with THE RAID’s smaller “police squad have to fight their way to the top of an apartment building” premise when they couldn’t get the financing. His first movie, MERANTAU (also starring Uwais and Ruhian) was also long and plot-oriented, even in its abbreviated international cut.

mp_raid2The story involves Rama being recruited by Bunawar (Cok Simbara), head of a secret back room anti-corruption unit, to go undercover in a gang. They’re working under the theory that they can’t clean up corruption in Jakarta without taking out the guys at the top and that if they don’t clean up Jakarta then Rama’s wife and kid will be in danger. So Rama tells the fam he has to go on a secret mission and gets himself in prison, where he impresses Uco (Arifin Putra), the son of the mob boss Bangun (Tio Pakusadewo) enough to get a job as a foot soldier in the gang when they get out.

So we get alot of standard but compelling undercover tropes: trying to not seem too eager, trying to not get caught wearing a wire, having to gain trust and respect, having to kill people in the name of passing as a gangster, etc. Like in the first one Rama’s family are a briefly-seen motivating factor for him, but there’s a very effective scene where he calls home long after he thought he’d be back, just to hear their voices, and unable to explain what’s going on. For all this poor lady knows he’s on Brokeback Mountain. It’s very sad.

Meanwhile there’s a brewing gang war, with a young hotshot named Bejo (Alex Abbad, but if you told me it was Sacha Baron Cohen I might believe you) plotting to take over by turning Bangun’s people against the Yakuza Goto (Kenichi Endo, VISITOR Q). And each of the mob bosses have potential successors and advisors and top assassins.

The most interesting of them as an actual character is Uco, who has a sort of petulant jealousy about not being as high up in the gang as he thinks he deserves. At first I felt kinda sorry for him and then you see him taking it out in a very uncool way on service people (well, hookers actually). He proves to be not a good person, in my opinion, whether going by societal standards, gangster codes of honor or just basic etiquette.

Ruhian stole THE RAID as Mad Dog, the henchman who enjoys a good fight so much he not only puts away the guns but unties one of his victims so he can take on two fighters at once. As Koso he’s not allowed the same weight (he never fights Rama) but does briefly take over the movie when it goes off on a tangent about him. He’s some kind of homeless, machete-wielding psycho called in to murder a bunch of people, but then he gets some of our sympathy because

2) he’s betrayed and has to try to fight an army of killers by himself

after

1) an awkward dinner with the ex-wife.

The most memorable new characters are just called “Hammer Girl” and “Baseball Bat Man,” and they’re two assassins (siblings I think?). They’re great because they suddenly appear in the movie when they’re sent on a mission where they cause a massive amount of carnage using the tools they’re respectively named after. We can’t help but kinda like them because they’re so good at what they do and what they do is unique. Hammer Girl is mysterious: she’s deaf and always wears sunglasses, and looks so much more innocent than she actually is. There’s a really funny moment when she’s sitting at the bar, back to the camera, and gets called into action. The way she sweeps up her two hammers (sitting on the bar!) as she shuffles away is hilarious.

After we see what they can do they disappear until they have to do it to Rama. This is a perfectly elegant way to set up a great fight scene, my favorite in the movie. Simplicity worthy of THE RAID.

I know everybody’s gonna love Hammer Girl, because what kind of a fuckin asshole wouldn’t love Hammer Girl. But let me put in a word for Baseball Bat Man, so he won’t end up being underrated. He deserves praise for his theatrical use of a bat to announce his presence (dragging it along on the ground), the dramatic ping of the aluminum hitting walls and other objects even when he misses, the hilarious way he hits baseballs at his victims and then asks them to throw them back, and for getting the best death in the movie. This guy is awesome. I think he should be called Slugger though.

Seeing THE ACT OF KILLING gave me a different view of Indonesia, where I almost believe this depiction where 90% of the population must be made up of violent criminals and corrupt cops. There are some normal citizens around, and in two scenes groups of them (subway commuters, a kitchen staff) see that some shit is about to go down, take a moment to gulp and then hustle on out the door. And despite having so much more story than the last time around there’s still room here for alot of shit to go down. One amazing highlight is a fight that takes place inside an SUV involved in a high speed chase and shootout. A motorcycle gets involved. Okay, it’s very similar to THE MATRIX RELOADED, which also had car-passenger martial arts (and seatbelts wrapped around necks), but it’s amazing and feels like a sequence of stunts, not special effects.

It’s a beautifully shot movie with some compositions that seem designed only for the big screen, for example the long opening shot I think will be hard to make out on a regular sized TV because the people are so small in it. I especially love the uses of overhead shots during a few crucial scenes. But it should be noted that the majority of the fight footage is shot handheld and fairly close to the action. For me it was dizzying at times but for the most part not disorienting since the shots are held much longer than the modern standard. It really shows that editing is a bigger post-action problem than shakycam, but harder to put your finger on.

I might’ve made a mistake by going to the first show of the day. Of course I couldn’t wait, but seeing it in a mostly empty theater in the early afternoon was a strong contrast to the revival tent experience I had seeing THE RAID on opening night, when they foolishly put it in the smallest theater and it was sold out with the most vocally enthusiastic crowd of all time. Then again it’s a different type of movie, and it’s hard to imagine a mob of people maintaining that level of pumped-uppedness through all the long, quiet dialogue scenes.

At least I got something out of the kid in the box office. When I said “One for THE RAID 2” he looked up from his intricate monster drawing and shouted “The Raid 2!? Oh, you’re gonna love it, sir!” I thought he might climb out of there and high five me he was so excited.

I should’ve said, “No, I said Rio 2.” He would’ve been so bummed. It’s funny that the cartoon bird sequel came out on the same day, and they were playing right next to each other. That could lead to some comical mix-ups when people get up to go to the bathroom.

This is a movie full of greatness, and the more I think and write about it the more I want to go back and see it again. But I also have to admit that the first viewing didn’t hit me like either MERANTAU or THE RAID did. The comparison to THE RAID is easy – for that one you just need your animal brain, for this one you actually gotta follow a bunch of shit. While I felt like I understood 95% of what was going on, I must confess there were times when I was struggling to piece together the plot, and that took me out of it (it’s not like it’s supposed to be a puzzler). A couple times I realized I had really missed something (I didn’t decode the meaning of the hand tattoo, and was thrown off when the mob bosses were referred to as cops). Of course there was nothing in THE RAID that I felt like I was too slow for.

So that’s easy to understand, but why did I prefer MERANTAU? I think it’s the underlying humanity. MERANTAU’s Yuda is a Tony-Jaa-esque naive farm boy who comes to the corrupt city and sees no choice but to do the right thing and get involved when he sees a woman being pushed around by sex traffickers. And there is Fight Brotherhood with Ruhian’s henchman character, and literal brotherhood between the bad guy and his brother (and they hug alot). But THE RAID 2’s Yuda comes into a world of almost nothing but assholes. It’s like a John Woo movie that’s mostly missing the all important ingredients of bonding and loyalty. You don’t get the usual undercover tension of feeling bad about betraying them, because the scumbags Yuda deals with unquestionably deserve to get the shit betrayed out of them. There is one subplot with a good bonding theme but there turns out to be a reason for that, and one villain who seems more honorable than the rest, but Rama doesn’t ever have to look him in the eye as a known traitor.

In the beginning Rama refuses Bunawar’s offer, saying he doesn’t believe in killing people, he wants to do it his way. Then he changes his mind and kills a whole lot of people. If it was there, I never picked up that much of a struggle inside him about not wanting to do it this way. In THE RAID that wouldn’t have been a problem, but this one gives us more time to think.

All that said, the strengths of THE RAID 2 are self-evident, and it is required viewing for fans of martial arts and action movies. I wouldn’t be surprised if none of this that I brought up bothers me after I see it again. If you look at my review of THE RAID you can see I had some hesitation about the all-action approach as compared to MERANTAU’s characterization, but that sure didn’t stick after I watched it again.

Whatever its faults, I’m thankful to see an action movie (a sequel even!) this ambitious and achieving on this level. I guess that’s the nature of this genre we love. Even if there’s an army of muddy, incomprehensible post-action spy movies filling the gang-controlled restaurant of Hollywood distribution, there’s always gonna be one bad motherfucker that’s gonna roll up his sleeves and take them all on at the same time. And even if there’s an assassin waiting outside to finish him off with two kerambits, at least he’s gonna crawl his bleeding ass out to a back alley where we can see him.

acr_raid2

P.S. Is anybody ever gonna apologize for adding “REDEMPTION” onto the title of the first one?

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
This entry was posted on Monday, April 14th, 2014 at 1:02 pm and is filed under Action, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

137 Responses to “The Raid 2”

  1. What film was it that you gave 5 on the ACR? I thought it was The Raid, but that hadn’t an ACR rating? Was it Ninja Shadow Of A Tear?

    I think have to waite for the blu-ray as this films usually never comes to Norway, or at least where I live, so I bet it I get the UK import or something like that.

  2. Yep, this one is an absolute banger, easily some of the best action scenes I’ve ever seen. It did feel at times that Gareth Evans maybe bit off more than he could chew story-wise, but that’s easily forgivable when he displays his action chops. And I sure as hell respect him going all out.

    That car chase was off the hook, and hammer girl and baseball guy were awesome. I really enjoyed how the final scene was almost like a video game of escalating intensity: first he takes out the nameless goons in the garage area, then he has to take out the Japanese guy in the kitchen, and finally he has to drop Hammer and Baseball, while totally beat up and exhausted. Iko Uwais is a god among men.

    I obviously want Evans and Uwais to continue their collaborations, but after seeing this I’d be interested if Evans could do a Bond movie? I’d like to see what he could do with a really tight spy script. And Iko could be the main henchman of course, or maybe a homie of Bond’s.

  3. I liked that in the end (eg SPOILERS) Uco took the “right” action concerning Bejo based upon drawing wrong conclusions. Pretty elegant.

    Other than the fights, a few moments took my breath away:
    -The whole scene in the disco leading up to Koso’s battle: the women taking the stage, Koso finding solace in his locket. Ruhian has the sort of screen presence to make you give a shit about him regardless of the amount of exposition dedicated to his character.
    -Rama’s getting carted away (for execution?) in the backseat of the car between two of Bejo’s thugs, and the camera slowly pushes in on him, bouncing slightly with the road. Mesmerizing.

    My plot-following troubles were alleviated by virtue of seeing it with somebody who always picks up on everything and coached me through my confusion with strategic murmurs in my ear. You guys should get one of those.

  4. Hey Haaaaans, Batboy and Hammergirl come before the kitchen fight.

    More love for kitchen duel please. One of the best fights I’ve ever seen.

  5. “What film was it that you gave 5 on the ACR? I thought it was The Raid, but that hadn’t an ACR rating? Was it Ninja Shadow Of A Tear?”

    That would be 300: Rise of an Empire.

    As for the Raid 2, I really, really enjoyed it. Though it seems I may have been one of the only ones who saw it with an enthusiastic audience, going by Vern’s comment above and a lot of the comments in the trailer article.

  6. Yeah, I saw it in the early afternoon and the crowd was dead. That’s usually the way I prefer it (audience reactions are deceptive) but maybe I’d have gotten more into it with a crowd of hooting yahoos howling for blood all around me. As it stands I’m impressed by individual sequences but overall bored by the final product, which to me was much ado about not all that much. But like Vern I’m hoping that subsequent rewatches will emphasize the good (dynamic action and filmatism) and deemphasize the bad (nobody worth rooting for, muddled story that proves distancing).

  7. I may be alone in this, and I understand why other people might not feel this way, but I honestly was just as invested in the plot as I was with the fights. I think it’s kind of stunning how much information Evans communicates about his characters nonverbally, giving us tiny little hints about who they are and how they feel about all this which greatly flesh out the somewhat boilerplate mob war storyline.

    In particular, I want to give a hats off to Arifin Putra as Uco. He has a tough job, since he’s pretty much the motivating force in the movie, almost a second protagonist, but he also has to be a completely irredeemable bastard. The actor does a phenomenal job of somehow making him both completely despicable, and yet also sort of tragic. You can really see how torn up he is about doing what he does, even though he does it anyway. And then at the end (spoiler) he seems almost relieved to have Rama show up and put a stop to his villainy.

    Other notes:

    1: Let’s get Jason Schwartzman as Bejo for the remake, huh?

    2: Anyone have even a guess as to what a Berandal is? My only working theory is that it’s a tribute to Shane from Walking Dead.

  8. I saw it at the first showing in Dallas, 10:15 Friday morning, so there was only me and 3 other people in the theater. I plan to go back and see it with a full crowd for that interactive experience, but I’m glad I saw it in an empty theater the first time, as it allowed me to follow the plot with no issues. The next time I go I can just geek out.

  9. JTS

    Actually it was Ninja 2 I was thinking about, as I didn’t even remember that the new 300 got it. I didn’t know before now, but you could actually put ACR in the search engine and you got all the films up, for some reason you also got The Act of Killing, I don’t know why.

  10. Berandal means Thug.

    Loved this film! It grows in my estimation the more I think about it. I think it will work even better watched straight after The Raid. Interestingly, Evans has stated that The Raid 3 will start 3 hours before Raid 2 ends.

  11. On the topic of the ACR, I agree with Vern that editing is more of a problem than shakycam. There are plenty of movies where the camera is still but the shot doesn’t hold long enough for the action to have any impact. I particularly hate it when you never see a blow thrown and landed in the same shot. That completely dulls the force of the action for me, reducing it to a series of static images with no throughline of dynamic movement. I’ve found that a lot of later statham movies resort to this, and it always detracts. Punch a motherfucker in one shot, I always say.

  12. The Original... Paul

    April 14th, 2014 at 3:54 pm

    Well I just came back from seeing this, and I honestly would’ve put money on Vern agreeing with me on every single point. Guess I would’ve been wrong.

    I’m going to go into detail here so MAJOR SPOILERS FOLLOW. You are warned.

    To me, the two stars – Uco and Rama – gave stunningly great performances. Two men who start on journeys that cause them to lose whatever humanity they have, bit by bit. Uco never had THAT much, of course, but we see at the start that there are qualities that he values in people – strength, self-preservation, even loyalty to some degree. I found it spellbinding to watch this character’s humanity slowly degrade away, bit by bit, as he slips more and more into treachery and paranoia, betraying all of the people who’ve brought him to that point, one by one, until the very end when he literally has nothing left but his own rage. He’s a wounded animal at that point.

    And was it just me or did the actor seem to change physically throughout the movie? He starts off as a confident braggart, but still very much his father’s son – young and enthused. Then as the movie goes on his walk becomes more confident, more robotic even, and his face just… hardens. A few characters near the start talk about people who “burn out” on their own ambition, and DAMN does Uco prove this. At the end he looks like a soulless husk of what he once was. Just a fantastic performance from start to finish by an actor I’ve never heard of before.

    As for Rama… I didn’t think about this until after the movie, but I think he has barely any dialogue in it. Almost everything we’re shown of him is in his physical performance. I was with him the whole way through, totally invested as he tries to cling to his own scruples but is forced to do more and more that he hates. I love that there’s no happy ending to this story, that he’s not shown reuniting with his family – hell, even killing half the gangsters in the city accomplishes precisely nothing, since a new lot are right there and ready to take over from what the old lot were doing! The point isn’t him “clearing up the streets”, of course, it’s him escaping. And it’s left ambiguous whether or not he’s even managed that.

    But aside from that, he’s an awesome action star. Physically he’s basically John Matrix without the duel-wielded assault rifles. He combines the physical affectations and a willingness to use improvised weaponry from Jackie Chan with the blood-pumping intensity of Bruce Lee. It’s one hell of a combination. In fact, you know what? This guy has impressed me more in two movies than Jet Li and Tony Jaa have ever done. Yeah, I said it. This guy is a more charismatic action star than Tony Jaa.

    So the story totally had me. I thought the scoring was top-notch, and the cinematography was fantastic (especially for such a gritty movie). A lot of it is dark greys and greens (it had me at the first shot of the field with the open grave in the middle of it and the smog from the city in the background – I can’t think of a more striking way to open the movie.)

    But… shakycam. Ugh.

    See I absolutely agree with Vern and Majestyk here. I think editing is more important than shakycam. The long takes really helped to show the “placement” of each blow, each peripheral character. It helped to make things clearer. But even given that… the shakycam was at times unbearable for me. There were times where I seriously thought the cinema projector wasn’t working properly. It was as though every second frame was slightly “off” in terms of placement in front of the projector.

    It didn’t help either that by far the worst action scene in the movie was right at the start of it. That prison-yard mud fight… uuuugh. It was as though Evans had made the deliberate design choice to make it impossible to tell who was who, which I don’t understand at all. If you’re hinting that the guards are as bad as the criminals… why? This has never been suggested before or since. The POLICE are corrupt, sure. Nobody suggests this about the prison guards, who never even appear after that opening scene. So why do this? I don’t get it. This was also the only scene in the movie where the editing really bothered me. There was just too much going on at once, with our viewpoint jumping from one anonymous guy fighting another anonymous guy, to a third anonymous guy trying to jump a fourth anonymous guy, and none of it apparently relating to any other part of it. I did at least understand that Rama saved Uco, which I guess was the important takeaway from the scene… but everything before that was a literal mess.

    Oh yeah, and one final bugbear… Eka’s death. Not sure if this was a homage to “Infernal Affairs”. It came across more as a direct rip-off. If it had been played differently then it would’ve hit me much, much harder than it did. As it stood, I thought this was the worst scene in the movie (apart from the prison fight).

    Ok, END SPOILERS.

    My final thoughts? If it wasn’t for the camerawork, this movie would’ve been damn close to being a masterpiece. The two central performances were absolutely mesmerising. I was totally invested in the story for 95% of it – the one exception being that “Infernal Affairs” scene. Bejo’s gang of assassins were fantastic (I also loved baseball-bat guy). I just wish it had used more steadicam is all. Argh.

    Still, absolutely worth seeing, and another contender for “best film of the year” for me. Also the best kung-fu movie I’ve seen since “Kill Zone”.

  13. The Original... Paul

    April 14th, 2014 at 4:03 pm

    And now to respond to all of you freaks!

    Subtlety: “I may be alone in this, and I understand why other people might not feel this way, but I honestly was just as invested in the plot as I was with the fights. I think it’s kind of stunning how much information Evans communicates about his characters nonverbally, giving us tiny little hints about who they are and how they feel about all this which greatly flesh out the somewhat boilerplate mob war storyline.”

    1000% agree with that! Especially regarding the central two characters, but even the peripheral ones – hammergirl and batman for example – there’s so much there that’s all communicated without words.

    Michaelangelo: “I plan to go back and see it with a full crowd for that interactive experience, but I’m glad I saw it in an empty theater the first time, as it allowed me to follow the plot with no issues.”

    All this talk of empty theatres worries me. Yeah, I know it was a Monday night showing, but I expected more people in the cinema for this one. (Mine was pretty much empty as well.) I seriously hope that it gets the kind of following that it deserves – and that that following shows their support with their wallets.

    Renfield: “More love for kitchen duel please. One of the best fights I’ve ever seen.”

    Fuck yes. This was also the fight where the camera thing bothered me the least. I did think the fights got better and better as the film went on. Also:

    “I liked that in the end (eg SPOILERS) Uco took the “right” action concerning Bejo based upon drawing wrong conclusions. Pretty elegant.”

    I liked that as well, but to me it once again emphasised just how paranoid and treacherous Uco had become. Again, just a stunningly good performance.

  14. Wanted to second Subtlety’s observation that this movie succeeds even without the fights. If Evans were to make a non-action film, my ass would be in the theater for it.

  15. Like I said in another thread, I think it’s really good, but it requires so much more investment as a viewer than the original that it’s not got that same instant rewatchability factor. Looking forward to a home release hopefully with a commentary track or two though.

    I didn’t have a trouble following the plot, but I do have a few questions, SPOILERS:

    1. What exactly was the deal with Bejo’s physical state? Was he just injured from the gang lifestyle, or did he have a condition?
    2. What was the purpose of making Hammer Girl both deaf AND visually impaired? Felt like a bit of overkill. Though the way her disfigurement looked, is it possible her brother did that to her?
    3. How did they know Andy was dead if they disposed his body? The same location is used later with one of the Yakuza, so it doesn’t seem likely the cops found the place.
    4. The muted conversation in the final scene: artistic choice, or obfuscation of plot details relating to THE RAID 3?

  16. 5. Was it Uco or that other guy who ordered the attack on Rama in the toilet? I was confused because Uco was sitting RIGHT NEXT TO the other guy in the cafeteria, which was weird considering they were supposed to be enemies.

  17. billydeethrilliams

    April 14th, 2014 at 5:31 pm

    Spoiler??????

    What was the deal with the tattoos?

    I feel like now I have to see The Man of Tai Chi now to compare.

  18. SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER

    It was just to reveal that the guy in the prison who tried to kill Uko was working for Bejo cos they’re in the the same gang.

  19. Wait – wasn’t the first time we saw the tattoo on one of the guys that Bejo had him execute in the empty restaurant?

    Stu – I wasn’t sure what to make of the muted conversation either. Rama saying “I’m done” you’d think would refer to police work, but those guys were gangsters, right?

  20. Paul – there’s going to be a lot of empty theaters, since for some reason they put this movie out on 1,000 screens. As much as I love this movie, it’s for a niche market. Whoever made the decision to put it on that many screens really miscalculated its overall appeal.

  21. Vern: Those guys that Uco executed were the same guys who were trying to kill him in prison. Bejo gave them to him as a “reward”, but Uco didn’t know that Bejo was the one who arranged the prison hit in the first place.

    Stu: I assume Bejo had a medical condition because he had a couple of coughing fits. Nobody coughs in movies unless they have a disease.

  22. It’s a little bit weird that Uco didn’t know the guys were working for Bejo. There are three factions in the movie — Uco’s, Bejo’s, and the Japanese. We’re told Uco’s faction and the Japanese have had 10-plus years of peace. So who did Uco think tried to kill him in prison? The answer, of course, is a fourth faction we just never hear about. So it’s not a plot hole, but it is a little strange.

    Re: the muted conversation — I was wondering about that too. Though I figured the “I’m done” meant “No, I’m not going to fight you.” Didn’t think it had anything to do with police work.

  23. I figured the muted conversation was about him informing them that all the bosses and badasses were dead, mostly by his hand, and them essentially asking if he was wanting to be the boss now and him bowing out, sidestepping an Eastern Promises-type situation.

  24. Yeah, MERANTAU and RA1D are better,
    but that’s like noting that Ms. Montana & Ms. Des Moines are hotter than Ms. New York.
    Whatever. We’re still in a wonderful world where these beautiful creatures deign to exist with us.

    Goddamn, I love MERANTAU.
    Any motherfuckers reading this that haven’t seen that movie should remedy that, like, yesterday.

    Here’s my thoughts on RAID 2, which I plan to see again in a few days:

    The Good:

    -Everything that echoes or continues the excellence of THE RAID.

    -Delves into the best essence of NW Refn’s proclivity for minimalist ubervisual static compositions & sleaziness

    -reminds a viewer of the best of the recent John Hyamses; horror cinema as action cinema

    -Can’t call it “style over substance” if the substance is so brutally well-filmed.

    -Subtle Stanley Kubrick nods:
    1) Handel’s Sarabande
    2) Father abusing his disappointing offspring recalls BARRY LYNDON
    3) crippled villain is like Dr. Strangelove
    4) Yuda’s prison entry scene recalls A CLOCKWORK ORANGE

    -Shot of Yaya’s dog sniffing its gift meal, close-up on the veggies, the dog goes for the bread/meat
    >>>>>>>>>>>>>> microcosm for Gareth Evans’s filmography & style in my opinion
    (skip the wholesome veggies & the dressing, get straight to the good stuff)

    -Iko Uwais has love handles? He’s pudgy? He’s human!!! I can be that!!!!

    The Bad:

    -This “sequel” delves into the worst of the over-plottedness of INFERNAL AFFAIRS (or THE DEPARTED, if you prefer) and/or, in an unearned fashion, of the Johnnie To ELECTIONs

    -How lightly are we supposed to take the fact that Yuda was in jail for 2 fuckin’ years? Is Indonesian law enforcement really that horrifying as a profession, that a top police officer is expected to miss his kid’s entire infanthood so that he can close a case? (And get beat the fuck up in the process.) Jeezus.

    -Misogynist bad guy (honcho’s son) looks like the pretty boy from MARVEL AGENTS OF S.H.I.E.L.D.

    -Iko Uwais has love handles? He’s pudgy? Boooooooooooo!!!!!!!

    -The cartoonishness of the injuries & fight techniques. (Why use all that upper body energy to choke out a guy in the mud brawl after you already disgustingly dismantled his kneecap? Why didn’t those fence-climbing dipshits realize there was nothing resembling freedom on the other side before they were shot (by a single-shot-firing sniper)? Why don’t any of the ‘throat-slashing’ hostages even try to back-headbutt dude before getting their jugulars opened up? The convenience of the uzi-[in]accuracy during the busted porno-shoot shakedown reminded me of the superior but sloppier HARD BOILED.)

    -Guy calls Yuda and spills some important top secret instructions without Yuda even saying “Hello.” Poor OPSEC.

    The Ugly:

    -RAID 2 borrows from RAID 1 in terms of knife-violence (stabbing & ripping downward through calf flesh),
    head-slamming violence (mushing dudes’ skulls on walls),
    and “line guys up for helpless execution” violence,

    and all of these bits were more impressively & more organically foisted upon our senses in RAID 1.

    -RAID 2 is a beautiful film, but maybe Evans is ready to team up with a writer like, i dunno,
    Charlie Kaufman, or Claire Denis, or David Ayer, or Spike Lee, or Diablo Cody, or William Shakespeare.
    Dude should let his style breathe within the confines of the imprimatur of another wild wordsmith.

    -The Awesome:

    Yayan Ruhian

    I love this motherfucker. Love.

    I half hope Hollywood discovers Yayan, so he can bring his brilliance to the masses, maybe jumpkick Spiderman or get shot by Punisher in some future Marvel movie product,
    and I half hope he continues to do nothing but co-star in & co-dominate Gareth Evans joints annually for the rest of my life. Best Supporting Actor of 2012 as Mad Dog (and it’s not close in that category), and here he’s reprieving his excellence (with a fuckin’ machete!!!!) while expanding his role in this weird RAID saga. I’m okay with him playing basically the hobo dog guy from Inarritu’s AMORES PERROS (plus a fuckin’ machete!!!!).

    I want to hug Yayan, and I want him to roundhouse me. Twould be a privilege.

  25. ANOTHER SPOILER-Y DISCUSSION
    I actually typed out a bunch of stuff before I went back and deleted it. I felt I was over-analyzing the plot. IIRC, Bejo pretty much declares from the onset that he was going to establish himself at the Bangun gang’s expense. The attempt on Uco’s life could have been part of Bejo’s scheme but as Eka mentions in his prison visit a lot of the convicts were love to make a name for themselves by taking him out. Of course they fail and Bejo later offers them up to Uco to win his trust. That he fails to mention they were part of his gang is somewhat irrelevant. Why? Because whether Bejo planned it or rogue elements acted their own, Uco would likely not go along with Bejo either way. But Uco’s suspicion is there all the time, he doesn’t know if Bejo is sincere or just setting him up to take the fall. The matching tattoo, the discovery of the wire in his wallet, and I think Reza’s presence at dinner all tipped him over into believing he was manipulated into precipitating his own family’s downfall. Very Shakespearean.

    Did that make sense? I kinda hate getting into the weeds with this because it really is a fantastic movie, but I understand why we do this as well.

  26. Man as weapon.

    No hands, only a blade. No fashion, only function. No care, only purpose.

  27. I really liked The Raid 2 – it’s mostly really, really good. I don’t laud it as much as most though.

    Let’s just say I think it’s 80% or so awesome. The bits I liked, everyone liked but here’s where I think it wasn’t so strong…

    Firstly, when it first came out, I couldn’t watch The Raid enough. It wasn’t like watching a movie, it was like a song for the eyes. Every beat just goes together – it flows and is perfect in it’s simplicity. The visuals on display, the choreography and the growing intensity of each fight is 100% goodness. The big fight with Rama, his bro and the animal is executed so freaking well no hyperbole can describe it. Truly the definition of visual story telling – or story telling through ass-kicking martial arts.

    With the Raid 2, I just don’t think the sum of it’s parts add up to the greatness everyone is describing. It’s great, no doubt! But I found it shares flaws with movies held in much lesser regard or perhaps I’m being unfair by holding it to the first films high standards.

    The Fights
    In the Raid, every fight is like a ballet or something (not that I’ve ever watched ballet, but it’s what I imagine it’s like to watch… but with punches and kicks and machetes). Leading up to each fight we get a gauge of who the characters are, obtained by spending mere moments with them prior to it. Each fight has a tiny little pre-story to it giving it and the participants their own little story I guess.

    Added to that, each punch and kick was the star of it’s own little piece of screen time. The camera followed the action perfectly, the shots were well timed and it was never too shaky to see what was happening. That all added up to the best fighting put to film if you ask me (and most of us it seems).

    In The Raid 2, most of the fights and combatants are just random dudes, and there is so many of them there’s no focus on anything. The shaky-cam, while edited to give slightly longer shots, makes it nearly impossible to follow what was going on (for me). I just wanted that tiny bit extra to see what was happening – especially the out-door prison fight. That was really messy and I don’t think the film recovered again until Slugger & Hammer Girl vs Rama…

    Which was the best fight in the film. Unfortunately, it was really short. To me, it was the only fight on-par with characterisation and story telling through fighting that was displayed in the first movie. Even still, I felt they were let down by not enough build up – I know, I know a baseball bat weilding martial arts master and a girl called Hammer Girl don’t need THAT much set up, but there was so much more potential to build that into something more than it was.

    I guess this kind of leads me into…

    Story
    The story was good overall, some typical “undercover to infiltrate the gang” tropes

  28. Have you guys seen this deleted scene from the movie? I watched this before the movie came out, but now that I’ve seen it, I’m not entirely sure where this would fit in the finished film. The only place I can figure is maybe this was part of the montage that cut between Hammer Girl’s subway fight, Bat Boy’s batting practice and that scene in the cornfield with…. somebody…. what was happening in that montage?

    http://vimeo.com/90092972

  29. …doh! How did that happen? and now I can’t login / edit… oh well!!

    …tropes, that worked for the most part. The problem I had wasn’t that it was hard to follow, but that it took away focus, even from Rama for good portions of the film. The best character piece in the film is for Ruhian and his aged, hitman. It was lovely! But it was a MASSIVE side-step of the film. Not even some of the ‘main’ characters got that treatment. If they did the impact of their fight or their role on Rama’s journey would be much better played out.

    Anyway, I didn’t want “The Raid” carbon copied, a big, year spanding crime epic is awesome! But ultimately I felt like the shaky filming and at times, poor character development let the movie down too much to be as great as the first.

    Still loved it and will watch it again – goddamn imagine if this was the standard of martial arts movies? It’s still light years ahead of most. But it’s not the work of beauty that it’s predecessor was.

    Cheers.

  30. This is what happens at the end when the dialogue is on mute, in my opinion (SPOILERS):

    Yakuza guy: “Dude, we literally brought 30 guys to do this job that you just did singlehandedly. Why not continue being a hired thug, but work for us this time?”

    Rama: “No thanks, I’m done.”

    It fits with the whole “has he spent so much time immersed in this lifestyle that he has actually become that which he is pretending to be?” trope you find in undercover cop stories.

  31. Mouth, I also had problems with the revelation that he was stuck in prison for 2 years. Instead of finding it devastating, Rama just finds it… irritating?

  32. Yeeeeaaahh, renfield, there’s something at the very very very beginning of the movie where he and the chief are talkin’ ’bout Rama has to do this undercover thing in order to protect his wife & kid[s]… ? Like, if he *doesn’t* spend several months in prison, it’s more likely some crime lord will discover something about him and put a hit on his family… ?

    I can’t remember, but it sure seems like the better, more sensible option would be for them to get the fuck out of that neighborhood, maybe apply for a hardship/persecution immigration grant from the US embassy in Jakarta.

    Watching them go through the bureaucratic vagaries & legal travails of international travel would have made for a less exciting film, but I’d be okay with that because our American population needs more Iko Uwaises in my opinion.

  33. It’s just a really sloppy half-baked story that’s partially saved by amazing action. You can try re-analyzing it all you want, I feel it’s always going to feel less than the sum of its parts.
    It wastes all this time on an undercover cop storyline that ultimately doesn’t matter at all. The whole movie feels that way. Sure there’s tons of story, but it’s all just “plot”.
    All that time spent with these people, and I don’t come away with any interesting characters or relationships or themes (everyone is corrupt….oh boy how insightful). Like Vern says, there’s no sense of brotherhood or anyone to really root for, everyone is an asshole. At the same time the movie is focusing on all these gang politics, it fails to properly setup the stuff that actually matters, which is Rama and his opponents. Does Rama ever even find out that the Assassin guy killed his brother? He’s allegedly agreed to this crazy undercover operation to get revenge, but he has 0 interaction with the people responsible until the end fight, and we never learn a goddamn thing about the assassin character.

    The Raid 1 actually does a much better job of setting up the stuff that matters in half the running time.

    Here’s a 4 sentence rewrite that fixes the movie:
    What should be happening is that his cop contacts should be sending him to infiltrate this organization but they don’t tell him who was responsible for his brother’s death, and he should be using that opportunity to go behind their back and try to uncover who his brothers killer was. At the same time, the movie should properly develop his relationship with Eko, so that there’s at least an exploration of whether he should betray this guy or not (As it is right now they literally exchange 1 short conversation, and suddenly he’s a key character in the major car chase set-piece, except we have very little reason to care). Then just as he’s discovered who killed his brother, shit hits the fan and the whole gang takeover happens, leading to the car-chase. And then finally, at the end, he decides to go in on his own to finish them all off to get revenge now that he knows who he’s going after.

    That’s much cleaner and clearer when it comes to motivation.

  34. Vern; “Seeing THE ACT OF KILLING gave me a different view of Indonesia, where I almost believe this depiction where 90% of the population must be made up of violent criminals and corrupt cops.” It would have been interesting to hear Evans and/or Uwais’ take on the working conditions in that kind of society.

  35. One thing nobody mentions is how unsexy this movie treats sexy women. There are tons of hot Thai babes in it and they are photographed and directed like they are miserable mooks trapped in their own personal hell. Even Koso’s megahot wife looks and acts miserable. They’re shown to be objectified (gangsters refer to them as pussy that “fucks away problems”) and shot like objects. You get the feeling that they are dead inside; that this lifestyle and treatment is totally toxic to them. And not just because they have to wear a gigantic strap on and fuck a hitchiker in the ass.

    This is very much a boy’s movie but I appreciated that Gareth didn’t make the women a bunch of swooning molls. They seem as miserable as the men (and Hammer Girl seems their equal, too). But he also didn’t hesitate to use a sassy one as a cheap prop to show how Uco was a bad guy, and made Rama’s wife a blank slate who puts up with him being gone for 2 years to close a case with nothing beyond “are you ok?” so I’m a little mixed. Yeah, I know nobody wants to hear about gender politics in an action movie, so I’ll shut up now, but I did want to point out that this movie doesn’t have the standard “tough dudes and gorgeous eye candy women for them to fall in love with” and that’s a good thing IMO.

  36. SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER

    Maybe it would have been more satisfying and cohesive to the undercover plot if Rama had been the one who had to kill Sad Dog*, under Uco’s orders(but without telling him what was really going on. It’s believable I think that Rama wouldn’t know who Koso was with), both giving us Uwais/Ruhian III and having Rama involved in what was going on more. I actually thought for a second when the camera panned from the alley to the car, that it was Rama leaning on the car.

    *In THE RAID 3, he can ride a skateboard while wearing a backwards baseball cap and sunglasses, and be called Rad Dog. In 4, he can be wearing a tartan kilt and be called Plaid Dog. In 5, his character can still be hung up on The Harlem Shake, Planking and “WAAAASSSUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUUP!” and be called Fad Dog.

  37. In Raid 6, he can date a bunch of different women, and then drop them after sex and tell his friends all the details, and be called Cad Dog. And in Raid 7, his fighting style will be exclusively punching opponents in the groin, and be known as Nad Dog.

  38. Pegmans :
    Vern; “Seeing THE ACT OF KILLING gave me a different view of Indonesia, where I almost believe this depiction where 90% of the population must be made up of violent criminals and corrupt cops.” It would have been interesting to hear Evans and/or Uwais’ take on the working conditions in that kind of society.

    @Pegmans and Vern, the setting for The Act of Killing was in 1960s, of course it’s a totally different situation now. And it was CIA who gave the kill list to Indonesian army (who then gave some of the jobs to thugs and things spiraled out of control).
    If Indonesia is such a dangerous society, Evans would have gone back to Hirwaun a long time ago.
    Many things in Evans’ movies are far from realities in Indonesia. That’s why Indonesians are often more critical toward his movies, except his fanboys and fangirls who are totally aware that this Raid universe is a product of Evans’ imagination. But then, if they make it true to the reality in Indonesia, Evans wouldn’t have a movie. Merantau, for example, would have a totally different plot if the writer is Indonesian. When you don’t have place to live in your Merantau time, like what happen with Yuda, you go to the local mosque, sleep, wash yourself there until you find someone who will help you finding a job. If you’re lucky, you will find someone who come from your hometown who will let you share his accommodation until you can get your own.
    The Raid 1, in reality there’s no tower block filled with low class criminals whatsoever in Indonesia, because there are only two types of tower blocks in Indonesia, those for lower class people, called Rumah Susun, are usually run by the government and of course only decent people can become residents. The other type is the apartment or condominium which those low class criminals can’t afford to buy nor rent. The abundance of firearms on the criminals side was also baffling as firearm is extremely difficult to get in Indonesia. In real life, Indonesian gangster doesn’t use gun, most probably they only use all variety of sharp weapon.

  39. The Original... Paul

    April 15th, 2014 at 10:39 am

    “It wastes all this time on an undercover cop storyline that ultimately doesn’t matter at all.”

    Bullet3 – I gotta pick you up on this one.

    For starters, it’s the big-shot gangsters who want peace in this one. Not the police officers. They’re as much the bad guys in this story as Ico is. Hell, Rama’s employer, a supposed “good guy” if such a thing exists in this world, shoots a corrupt cop in the head and dumps his body in the ocean in the second SCENE. Also Rama has four large-scale battles with hordes in this movie, and one of those hordes is made up of cops.

    But more than that… the whole point of the movie is that Rama’s actions, while initially well-intentioned, change absolutely nothing. He kills a bunch of gangsters, and another bunch quite literally come through the front door to take their place. The point is what it does to RAMA. And also to Ico (whose performance is mind-blowingly great IMO. Just look at how the actor portrays the character’s arc as his ambition slowly destroys him. You SEE that character’s soul slowly being drained from him as he betrays more and more of the people who’ve tried to help him.) These men think that they’re going to change the world. Instead the world changes them. That’s the point.

    I agree about Rama’s motivations at the start – he never learns about the assassins of his brother, as you say – but again, I think that’s the point. He goes into this with noble intentions and swears that his boss’s actions in the opening scene are just plain wrong; he comes out of it as a ruthless killer. He gets so immersed in the part that he’s playing that he forgets who he is and why he’s there. Actually, thinking about it, that final scene is deliciously ironic. Rama meets his brother’s killer at last (and knows it – don’t forget that the internal affairs guy told him at the start), yet there’s no indication that he even remembers it.

    I mean, if you’re looking for a straightforward revenge story like “Thirteen Assassins” or “Enter the Dragon” or something, plainly “The Raid 2” isn’t it. But I think there’s a lot going on in it, more than you’ve given it credit for perhaps.

  40. SPOILERS SPOILERS SPOILERS AHOY
    Guys, I think the significance of the tattoos is not that Bejo sent these guys to kill Uco while he was in the can, but rather that at the end, Uco realizes that Bejo had his own guys murdered as part of his plan. Uco suddenly realizes that he’s alone, completely isolated from his own gang, utterly at the mercy of this fuckin’ snake who’s so devious he had his own brothers brutally murdered just to lure this gangster’s son into killing his own father. Well, if he was feeling paranoid before, now there’s no doubt in his mind that he’s completely expendable to Bejo, and that it’s only a matter of time before it becomes convenient to kill him, too. And so at the very first opportunity, he makes the first move. Essentially, this is the moment where Uco suddenly realizes just how far over his head this has gotten. Watch his face as he subtly registers that he’s absolutely fucked, and it’s all because of this asshole who goaded him into betraying everyone he ever relied on. Some people have complained that Rama doesn’t get to kill Bejo, but honestly, I think it’s even more satisfying that Uco does. Bejo has ingeniously turned all of Uco’s worst qualities against his enemies, and now it comes right back to bite him in the ass.

    Stu — I agree, it would have been better to involve Rama in what happens to Sad Dog. As it is, that whole section feels pretty disconnected from the rest of the movie. Just one guy who shows up out of the blue, has three scenes, and then doesn’t show up again. That having been said, I just love those parts so much I’m glad they’re in there anyway, even if it’s a bit unwieldy. There’s a ton of things Evans could have done to simplify the story and make it more elegant, but…. I dunno, I love it all so much that I would have been sorry to lose them.

  41. (SPOILERS)

    Fuck it, I loved it. More than RAID 1, which as I was saying in the RAID 2 TRAILER comment thread is a movie I always appreciated somewhat dispassionately – admiring the craft and gonzo-ness but not getting that involved in it (I reacted similarly to DAY OF RECKONING too, incidentally). This sucked me in a lot more and gave me a lot more to chew on, while upping the insane brutality by several factors.

    (I did have some trouble following it early on, and it’s because you have a decent number of scenes early in the film of people being referred to by name without being sure who those names are. But it all came together for me nicely, and there are actually some careful character payoffs.)

    In the beginning Rama refuses Bunawar’s offer, saying he doesn’t believe in killing people, he wants to do it his way. Then he changes his mind and kills a whole lot of people. If it was there, I never picked up that much of a struggle inside him about not wanting to do it this way. In THE RAID that wouldn’t have been a problem, but this one gives us more time to think.

    Rama spends the movie finding out about the lie of the ‘clean war’ which I believe Evans argues is also the lie of the line between lawman and lawbreaker, but the thing is that we see this arc play itself out mostly through action scenes instead of via monologues about the monster within or whatever. Rama’s plan is to destroy the Jakarta underworld with Andi’s tapes, but he’s frustrated when that’s taken off the table by Bunawar. He finds his own method inside the prison, when we see him beating the shit out of his cell’s wall – he’s reducing the prison into something he can beat the shit out of, which is the main thing he knows how to do. But this is just the beginning, as Rama’s still holding onto the idea that he can have it all his way, like at Burger King. The mud battle is a key moment, when guards and prisoners become part of the same indistinguishable quagmire. Later when Rama fights the pornographers he makes an effort to not kill anyone, only to later see their dead leader dumped into a catfish pond (in a scene that struck me as very ACT OF KILLING-y) – and we can see the discomfort on his face as it happens. Two more turning points for the character are when he’s attacked in a car and in the process of defending himself (against people he naturally assumed were criminals) finds out that he’s killed some corrupt cops. He kills with ease now and while the line between a corrupt cop and a gangster is as arbitrary as a badge hidden under a jacket, it serves to jar Rama into an awakening while also illustrating that he still thinks himself someone who operates within certain boundaries, who does things the right way. And then Eka’s revelation just before dying that he believes himself still a cop, that he never became a criminal. Bunawar disagrees, and the example Rama is left with is of a man who insisted he was doing good from the inside, but who may have helped kill cops – and he dies in a junkyard, alone and having not accomplished his mission. Rama responds by attacking the warehouse, and notably dispatches everyone in it without killing. He’s re-committed to doing it his way, but as we see when he finishes off the brother/sister team and the Assassin, he finds that certain tasks require compromise. The lie of the clean war. When Rama kills the Assassin and Uko they fall against him as if to embrace, because he’s made himself one of them. And in the end, “I’m done.” He came to terms with the dirty war to finish his mission but still wants out, wants to live on his own terms.

    The scenes with Ruhian’s character do a lot of this on a smaller scale. (this reading isn’t my own, I saw it on another messageboard and loved it.) We see in his first fight scene that he only kills exactly who he needs to, and violently yet nonlethally dispatches anyone in his way. And we see it again when he’s ambushed, he starts out evading the thugs, tossing chairs at them to keep them at bay. But when he can no longer afford to do that, when self-preservation becomes the only priority, he gets his hands dirty too. He starts killing, and his kills get more and more brutal and excessive. His brutality seems to be like Rama’s in that it isn’t motivated by sadism but appears to emerge against his will from mounting panic. That scene and the one with his wife (where she punctures his self-serving lie about just doing what he needs to support his family – no clean wars) serve to echo Rama’s situation, a kind of Ghost of Christmas Future where only we are watching. He’s the guy Rama could become or is afraid of becoming, so cloistered off in his world of professional violence that it’s all he knows, an absent father and husband whose family resents or despises him, and who dies brutally and alone in a cold alleyway. Thematically it informs “I’m done” even if Rama didn’t know about it.

    Anyway I loved this movie. It’s intelligent, badass, and even though it’s less ‘tight’ than the first RAID it’s a really assured piece of cinema. Can’t wait to see it again.

    Haaaaaaans – I’d like to see Evans take on Bond as well, provided that he gets to bring enough of his own point of view to it. He’s a Euro so he’s already got a leg up (Broccoli & Wilson don’t hire American directors).

    Paul – you make some great points. I agree with you about taking Uwais over Jaa, whose blankness and charisma-vacuum has always been a barrier preventing me from fully enjoying Jaa’s films. Uwais brings it not just as a physical performer but as an actor. Dying to see whatever he does next.

    Regarding post-action – I’ve come to realize I can handle one element without the other. So shaky camera with long takes, love it (and without checking I felt like the takes in this were longer than in RAID 1) (and frankly a lot of the camerawork in this felt more ‘handheld’ than ‘shaky’ if you know what I mean, but I sat in the rear of the theater and clearly some people had different reactions). Fast editing with good framing and calm camera, I can take it (BULLET TO THE HEAD was a recent example of doing the quick edit thing pretty well, I thought). Mix em together and you’re losing me.

  42. What I loved about the “No. I’m done” scene was that it really didn’t matter what the Japanese gangster was asking. Rama’s answer was the correct answer to every possible question in that situation.

    “What, are you going to fight us, now?” “No. I’m done.”

    “Did we even need to show up in the first place?” “No. I’m done.”

    “Want a job?” “No. I’m done.”

    “Is Bejo still here?” “No. I’m done.”

  43. Dikembe, thanks for the enjoyable breakdown. I think that’s a great reading of the movie’s theme. Good stuff.

  44. The Original... Paul

    April 15th, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    Yeah, I absolutely agree that this was better than “Raid 1”. (And I had that in mind for my personal “best movie of the year” back when I first saw it. Hell, if 2012 hadn’t been such a freakishly good year for film, “The Raid” might have taken that spot.)

    Something that struck me when reading Dikembe’s (excellent) rundown of the movie: “The Raid 2” is the reverse “Hostel”. (Which, as I’m sure you have all come to accept by now, is a masterpiece.) Think of what the two protagonists go through, and how they react to it – but while the guy from “Hostel” starts out as a complete asshole but finds his humanity through suffering and losing a friend, Rama loses his humanity instead.

    And talking of out-of-left-field movie comparisons (after all, I wouldn’t want to be outdone by Mouth here), you remember how I said in my love-letter to “Thor 2” that a sequel should take the world and tone of the first movie but increase the scope and breadth of it? Step forward “The Raid 2” and take a bow.

  45. This is a really interesting comments section. Good job outlaws.

  46. Pretty good review Vern, you really got me excited to see this movie since I really loved the first one.

    Also I’m really enjoying this site in general and glad to finally find an All Action Movie genre site that isn’t being run by a complete closeminded jerk.

    Sorry about that, you see I got excited when I found a site called Manly Movies, which is kind of like your site as well (except brighter and full of Youtube videos), and was enjoying it until I read the list of the Worst Action films of 2012, which included Haywire, Skyfall and had the Avengers at number one, okay I get people having opinions and all but what annoys me is his attitude. Basically his stance is (to put in more polite terms as possible), “if you disagree with his views then you’re an idiot and are in complete denial that any movie he hates is good”, he especially hates the Superhero films as of late and the Daniel Craig Bond films and any time you try to give your reasons, he would throw insults at you and act all high and mighty about it.

    Phew, sorry about the rant. It’s just that after that disappointment, I’m really glad to find this site.

  47. binar – Don’t worry, I don’t literally believe the RAID movies are a realistic depiction of Indonesia. I just meant that ACT OF KILLING made me more scared of the place. But I sincerely appreciate your details about the reality of it, it’s really interesting to me. Thanks so much for posting.

  48. binar, I wasn’t referring to the action in the RAID movies, but more the political climate in which Evans makes his movies. I think THE ACT OF KILLING show us very well that there is a peaceful everyday life in Indonesia. But it also show us a country where talk show hosts praise people who killed millions and politicians who almost brag about corruption. It would be interesting to know how what it’s like to work on films in those conditions. That was my agenda.

  49. I’m really enjoying all the analysis. I gotta see this again. I want to say, I actually like that the scenes with Ruhian are disconnected from Rama. I mean, I would like to see another Uwais vs. Ruhian fight, but I like when movies go off on tangents, kind of like a little short film within the larger movie. It has to be done well, of course, but it’s a trick that works well for Tarantino, DePalma, Kubrick. Might as well be an action movie version of that.

  50. the hallway scene at the end was an instant classic, the theatre i was in they were clapping

    and then the scene in the kitchen comes right up and blows away the hallway scene. such an atavistic rush

    iko uwais and gareth evans can do no wrong, everything they touch turns to gold. i saw merantau in 2009 and was impressed, but they just get better and better

    i will watch everything they make, they get better with every single outing. the next one is either going to break our hearts or earn a place in the pantheon

  51. Not being able to share this with you guys is kind of bumming me out. Sometimes I really hate my bizarre, seemingly arbitrary tastes.

  52. Pegsman :” I think THE ACT OF KILLING show us very well that there is a peaceful everyday life in Indonesia. But it also show us a country where talk show hosts praise people who killed millions and politicians who almost brag about corruption.”

    You are disgusted that Indonesian talk show hosts praise those murderers?
    That’s exactly the same feeling I get every time I watch American talk show hosts praise American war veterans who just return from Iraq or Afghanistan, knowing the flawed reasons of American troops going to those places and that some of them might have killed innocent civilians.

    Back to The Raid series, in Indonesia the movies are criticized for its over the top violence and how it would give false ideas to foreigners that Indonesians in general are extremely violent. We, the Raid fans, are worried that some concerned groups will be able to persuade the government to stop the screening of The Raid 2. We keep trying to remind the government and general audience how The Raid series has introduced Indonesian martial arts to the world.

  53. binar, I’m not American.

  54. Yes, blaming the people who went to war because joining the military is one of the few legal ways for people from impoverished areas to try to improve their lots in life instead of the assholes who sent them there so they could make more money is a smart allocation of righteous rage.

  55. There are so many ways this discussion could turn ugly I think we’d better stick to the world of movies.

  56. You’re right. Sorry about that, binar. I’m glad you liked the movie and I appreciate your perspective. I hope I didn’t cause offense with my kneejerk sarcasm. It’s my default mode.

  57. Majestyk – don’t feel bummed. Your reasons for not liking the movie as much as some others are equally valid. Sometimes a movie just hits you in a visceral way, and it doesn’t others. For example, I am obsessed with the flick The Warriors. I consider it a perfect flick. Back when I used to be a columnist/reviewer for a site called Inside Pulse, the first column I ever wrote was about The Warriors. I’ve probably seen it over 200 times now. Which, I’m sure, sounds insane to most everyone else on this board. But that’s just it. The Warriors clicks with me in a way that it doesn’t with other people. I think the reason The Raid 2 won’t click with as many people as the first movie is that it was an amuse bouche of a movie, a perfect bite. It was lean and mean, stripped of all but the most basic of plots, just enough to propel us through scene after scene of kickassery. This film is much more complex, like a four-course meal, and while one person may love every dish, another person may not like the appetizer, or the salad. But, hey, we can all agree the entree was top notch, right? And how bout that dessert?

  58. Sorry, I missed lunch.

  59. Yeah, I get it. It’s just a bummer that there’s all this awesome shit in the movie and for some reason I’m focusing on the boring plot scenes like some kind of (shudder) critic. I expected more from myself.

    THE WARRIORS is pretty rad, though.

  60. You know Mr. Majestyk I feel you. I used to get bummed about film too until I had a paradigm shift. This is going to sound a little lecture-y but it’s just an explanation of my thought process, so no offense intended. Anyway, it dawned on me that movies are just a collection of lights and sound. They have no intrinsic value or meaning as a work. Even my all time favorite film, Raiders of the Lost Ark, is not “objectively good” and has no “objective value”. Once I had unlocked this realization, I got a lot less mad about critics that disagreed with me. It becomes less of a struggle over our viewpoints on the world and more of a collaboration on what each of us took from cinema and how it reflected on our values and life experience. The thing is, I actually respect a critic that can make me understand his/her viewpoint and make interesting criticisms even if we don’t agree. One of the most interesting critical analyses I ever read was of the shit-tastic Aliens Vs Predator 2 and although I still think that movie was a gigantic turd I had to admit there was potentially more there then I gave the film credit for.

    I have a friend with no taste. I don’t mean he has good or bad taste, I mean that he has no taste – he likes pretty much everything he sees. I pretty much think this is the way to live – it’s almost Zen. You free yourself from expectations and higher desires and just enjoy whatever time you spent watching a movie. It makes him utterly worthless as a critic but who cares? He’s the center of his own universe and it’s a cosmos of good movies as far as the eye can see.

    Anyway, sorry about the philosophy talk. I just wanted to let you know that I think you’ve got nothing to be bummed out about. You’re not calling everybody idiots who disagrees with you, and you’ve elucidated your thoughts on the film nicely. We’re entering the summer movie season and there’s always a couple of films that are divisive – I’m sure you’ll enjoy a movie that most people hate before the year is out. No worries.

  61. Thanks for the pep talk, Hardly. But I actually don’t want anybody to agree with me on this one; I want to agree with them! I want to love THE RAID 2 as much as everyone else! It bums me out to be on the outside on this one.

  62. Is V/H/S2 worth watching for Gareth Evans’ contribution? I heard people say it was good, but I didn’t like the first movie for a whole bunch of reasons.

  63. The Gareth Evans short is worth watching, completely insane and over the top, but I’d skip the rest of VHS 2.

  64. I like some of the other segments in VHS2, like the zombie cam one and the one where that girl got naked for no reason, but yeah, Evans’ contribution is far superior to anything else in the series in every conceivable way.

  65. The Original... Paul

    April 17th, 2014 at 2:21 am

    Majestyk – I’d just like to say that Hardly and Michaelangelo do not speak for all of us. Personally I think you are clearly a dangerous deviant and must be purged for the sake of the community as a whole. It just makes sense. If you want to be one of us, you should BE one of us.

    Take that from somebody who, as everyone here knows, has never ever expressed an opinion that has disagreed with the majority in any way whatsoever.

  66. “If you want to be one of us, you should BE one of us.”

    Paul, I think you have seen one too many versions of the Body Snatcher’s movies. And maybe The Evil Dead – “Join Us”. Though you still haven’t seen Evil Dead 2013. Why haven’t you seen Evil Dead 2013 yet Paul?

    If you want to be one of us, you should BE one of us!!!

  67. The Original... Paul

    April 17th, 2014 at 7:04 am

    Darren:

    “Paul, I think you have seen one too many versions of the Body Snatcher’s movies.”

    Impossible.

    “Why haven’t you seen Evil Dead 2013 yet Paul?”

    I might catch it on cable at some point… but ya want me to PAY for this shit? No thanks.

  68. Saw it again. Loved it even more second time. If Evans sticks the landing we’ve got a trilogy for the ages imho.

  69. If The Departed and a Friday the 13th sequel banged at Johnnie To’s house and the resulting love child was turned over to Jackie Chan and raised in a Meth Lab that child would grow up to be “The Raid 2” and I mean that in the nicest way possible.

  70. Crusty — definitely watch Evan’s VHS 2 segment. It’s absolutely phenomenal in every way, and the ONLY VHS segment which manages to utilize the found-footage gimmick perfectly, while still telling a comprehensible visual story and not turning into a murky eyesore. The rest of VHS 2 is skippable, nothing quite as embarrassing as that Tuesday the 18th segment from part 1 but hardly required viewing. Evans’s segment is an order of magnitude better than anything else in the whole series, IMHO (although I have a fondness for the David Bruckner Vampire-girl segment that begins part 1).

  71. I actually kind of like the VHS series, but none of the other segments can really stand on their own two feet the way Evans’ can.

  72. I just want to say, that i do think The Assassin deserved a better build up than what he got

    Well its true that

    SPOILER SPOILER

    He was the one besides Rama with the most fights clocking at 3, but besides his penultime fight with Rama(which was too quick anyway) we barely got to see him in action to build up him as the final combatent like they build up Mad Dog in the first movie. In retrospective i do think having him being the one to hurt Eka with his knifes instead of Uco shooting him would sell him better

  73. For some reason I don’t understand, there are no plans to screen The Raid 2 in Singapore.

  74. Evans VHS 2 segment is one of the best stretches of 20 minutes put to film in 2013. Check it out if you haven’t. And I like the other segments too.

    Random Anon: I could have used some more Assassin, but he did beat the piss out of Rama at Bangun’s place. To date, he’s the only guy to beat Rama in a fight. That was introduction enough for me.

  75. I guess you’re right, but i just felt that one confrontation with Rama was just too fast.

    Like he has multiples fights but with the exception with the last one which is like 8 minutes, the other ones are just like 30 seconds, which is fine i guess, but i was hoping for more

    In the end Baseball Bat Man and Hammer Girl ended up stealing the show by most memorable villains from him

  76. Majestyk, I’m with you. The things I like about the movie are not what I expected to like. I appreciate the artistry of the movie and the action but I can’t help but be annoyed by a story that clearly needed a little more tweaking and characters that could be expunged. A second viewing might tell a different tale but I’m not so sure.

  77. Gareth Evans on his 5 favorite action (fight) scenes:

    http://t.co/k8qZmLkgtn

    Though I’d want to squeeze in something from one of the first two TERMINATORs,
    I can’t deny his list is correct.

  78. Random Anon — I think part of the point of the Assassin is that he’s not really a fighter, he’s a killer. The “fights” we see him engage in prior to Rama are anything but; really they’re murders. Unlike Mad Dog, who relished a good fair fight, the Assassin takes pleasure in the kill, not the chase. He’ll fight if he has to, but he’d prefer to just let his goons soften people up and then go in for the kill once the battle has already been won. Rama’s brother, the guy Japanese gangsters, Sad Dog… he doesn’t fight any of them (even though he obviously could). He’s just the executioner, and it’s obvious how much he relishes the role. That’s what makes him a fundamentally different and more hateable character than Mad Dog was, and that’s why its so satisfying to watch Rama wipe that fucking smirk off his face.

  79. On Evans 5 fave action scenes- (see Mouth above)

    Benny the Jet in Wheels On Meals I recognised from Grosse Point Blank(which I love). I knew he was good from his fight with Cusack at the school reunion, but seeing this gives him more cred. And tells me Cusack knows a thing or two about action history.

    There’s something about the Nut-Slam from the alley fight in They Live that invokes more horror than the reality of an alien invasion.

  80. The Original... Paul

    April 22nd, 2014 at 2:44 pm

    Fuck me, I gotta see “Merantau”.

    Nice linkage Mouth.

    Anybody want to throw in an opinion on their favorite fights (other than the ones Evans already mentioned)? I’ll do it. Going on the ones that aren’t necessarily the best technically (although they’re all great in that respect as well) but are the ones I just have to keep watching over and over…

    “The Young Master” – the stool fight.
    “Kill Zone” – Donnie Yen vs Wu Jing.
    “Enter the Dragon” – every single damn fight in that movie (except Roper vs Bolo). And while we’re at it, throw in Lee vs the American from “Fist of Fury” too.
    “Universal Soldier: Regeneration” – Van Damme vs Lundgren. Or Arlovski vs Pyle. Can’t pick between those two.
    “Blood and Bone” – Michael Jai White vs Matt Mullins.

    And if I can throw in a “gimmick pick”:
    “Evil Dead 2” – Ash vs Ash’s demon-possessed hand.

    Just saw “Locke”. It’s very good. I’ll write up something spoiler-free about it in the forums.

  81. Donnie Yen vs Collin Chou in Flashpoint is great because its so “modern”

    All the Judo, Wrestling, BJJ stuff really comes together to make a really cool fight scene

  82. If I were to do a “gimmick” pick, I’d consider:

    -Sharon Stone (and vagina & cigarette) vs. Cops in BASIC INSTINCT

    -wife vs. husband in the last 20 minutes of BEFORE MIDNIGHT

    -Madd Chadd dominates at the Battle of Red Hook in STEP UP 3D

    -THE PRINCESS BRIDE poison cup challenge

    -ZOOLANDER “It’s a walk-off.”

    -Kirk’s clever dispatching of his enemy in STAR TREK 2: THE WRATH OF KHAN

    -Agent Starling vs. Hannibal Lecter

    -Rabbit (Eminem) vs. Free World

  83. I dunno how gimmick this count but

    Shaolin F.C vs Evil Team(Shaolin Soccer)

  84. Sorry for the double post but i forgot to add

    I’ve always been curious what Vern thinks of Stephen Chow other movie KUNG FU HUSTLE

  85. Any one of the weapon fights in Sammo Hungs THE ODD COUPLE can make my list. Incredible choreography.

  86. I cant decide between –

    MOUTH vs MARK BOAL (Mouth wins by verbally humiliating his opponent after coercing an admission that he got inspired to write Hurt Locker after a corporate retreat playing Paintball.)

    or

    MOUTH vs KATHERYN BIGELOW (Many effective blows are landed by both sides for a punishing two hours. The Ref calls a time-out after Mouth tackles Bigelow around the waist, accidentally tearing off her panties, and to his horror, exposing female genitalia. Mouth forfeits the match, becomes disillusioned, takes to the road, starts questioning what it means to be a man, to love movies, is there a God? After three years exile in a Buddhist Monastery on top of a mountain, Mouth begins the long trek down, with vengeance burning in his heart, steel in his eyes, and his next mission)………..

    MOUTH vs (fill in the blank)

  87. At least I’m smart enough never to try to fight Jackie Chan.

  88. Good call. Picking a fight with an elderly clown is just embarrassing for all parties.

  89. Another fight that would make my list is the 20 minute finale of ONG BAK 2.

  90. Trailer for Don “The Dragon” Wilson and Cynthia Rothrock’s new movie WHITE TIGER.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_OuU2oRmh6Y

  91. Hey everybody, I have been reduced to lurking in the shadows and haven’t had the chance to post much as of late because of a change of jobs, but I am excited to be back in a position that allows me more time on the computer which means I have more time to be a part of the conversation (I missed you guys). I also couldn’t pass up the chance to discuss THE RAID 2. I have to finish reading the the talkback thread, but I was surprised that Vern and a few others were underwhelmed or disappointed by the film. I loved it. The Raid 2 is not a lean mean streamlined narrative like THE RAID it is a whole different animal all together. THE RAID 2 is epic, where the original film was a survival horror film that took place in one location, over the course of one day and only dealt with a handful of characters THE RAID 2 is a grand crime opera that plays like a martial infused version of THE GODFATHER, ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA, or INTERNAL AFFAIRS and deals with a number of characters and crime families over the course of a few years. From a narrative stand point it is a very different film, but the filmatism is still very strong and the action is even more impressive and larger in scope then the original film. Actually, I would argue that the more epic nature of the story and the drastically different pace allows Evans more room to show his skills as director, and not just in his presentation of action but his use of the cinematic language. The scene Vern mentioned where Rama is waiting in the bathroom stall in prison before having to fight a gang of attackers is a perfect example. The way Evens cuts between the events that took place immediately following the first film and Rama preparing himself for combat is a very skillful and effective way to communicate a lot of information and story. In the end I guess I could understand being disappointed that the RAID 2 is so different from it’s predecessor, but I didn’t have any problems with the change in pace that came with broadening the scope of the story that is being told.

  92. Welcome home, Brother Charles. I got all that (it’s a different kind of movie, etc.) but I don’t think the story is compelling enough to justify all the time we spend on it. There’s some great filmmaking but I found the overall experience tiring and often confusing. I am in the minority, though, so don’t feel like you need to defend yourself to me. I’m the weirdo here. I also didn’t think MERANTEAU was all that great so I guess my overall opinion is that maybe depth is just not Evans’ thing. He’s phenomenal at immediate visceral pleasures and I think he should stick with that.

  93. By the way I would highly recommend ON THE JOB (it is now in Netflix streaming). It is not a martial arts film, However, it deals with a lot of the same elements of crime and corruption The RAID 2 deals with but is more character driven. I would say that I still prefer THE RAID 2 to ON THE JOB because of the action in the R2 but you could make the argument that ON THE JOB is a better film with more complex and fully realized characters.

  94. Majestk, I started my last post before seeing your response. Have you seen ON THE JOB? It is a great film and I am sure we will get an English language remake at some point, but it features many of the elements that you feel are missing from R2.

  95. Nah. Part of why I didn’t go nuts for THE RAID 2 is that I’m not really interested in the themes it’s so laboriously exploring. (What’s this? There’s corruption? The line between cop and criminal is blurred? The hell you say!) A movie on that topic with less action and even more drama sounds pretty tedious to me.

  96. I hear you, and I understand where you’re coming from. Those are also themes that have been explored in countless other films, but I would say ON THE JOB is worth your time. It is based on the real life scandal of the Philippine’s broken prison system and prisoners being used as hitmen. Also, it has lots of action, it just not a martial arts film. The subject matter might not be that appealing to you but I bet you would enjoy and appreciate the filmatism and the drama that is there is much stronger then the dramatic elements of R2.

  97. That sounds kinda cool. As long as it’s not another goddamn undercover story, I’ll keep it in mind. Thanks, Charles.

  98. I was hoping to see this again on the big screen, but it’s already down to one 5 pm showing in Seattle, not usually a time I can make it to. But I will definitely buy the blu-ray when it comes out.

  99. Vern, I am hoping to catch it again in theaters but have run into the same situation here in Austin where I saw it opening day at a nice theater by my house but now it is playing on very few screens and at lousy theaters.

    Majestk, there is no undercover element of ON THE JOB it is its own thing. I would go into greater detail but I am not here to beat you over the head with a hard sell just sharing my thoughts and I don’t want to spoil anything if you or anybody else around these parts decide to check it out.

  100. The Original Paul

    April 29th, 2014 at 2:45 pm

    “I was hoping to see this again on the big screen, but it’s already down to one 5 pm showing in Seattle, not usually a time I can make it to.”

    “…but now it is playing on very few screens and at lousy theaters.”

    Yeah, same here too. Grrrrrrr.

    As great as “The Raid 2” is – honestly I feel as though my tastes and Majestyk’s are once again at odds, since this seems like a film that could’ve been written for me personally – it’s very much a niche product. (Like, say, “Drive”. Another really good film that played to a very specific audience, I felt. But “The Raid 2” is even more of a niche product than an overstylized late-seventies-slash-early-eighties throwback like “Drive” is, due to the language barrier. Some people are definitely turned off by subtitles.)

    I might check out “On the Job” myself, if I come across it. Sounds like my sorta thing.

  101. Man this was longer than I expected but I really did enjoy it. The scales were upped big time. The hammer girl was something else. That car sequence is also gonna change the game. I know why Gareth Evans says he’ll take a break before making another one. The next one could even be called THE RAID 4 because there is enough awesome in this to cover the ground of 2 sequels.

  102. I meant to say that watching the movie is exhausting and overwhelming by the end because it was so much thrown around. So if that’s how I feel as a viewer imagine how the director must feel. I’m sure it was quite the endeavor. I’m interested in watching the making of.

  103. In terms of favorite fight scenes, my all-time favorite fight scene is the ending fight in Crippled Avengers, aka Return of the Five Deadly Venoms. Great gimmicks plus incredible action.

  104. Today’s installment of MAJESTYK MAKES AMENDS did not get off to an auspicious start. After practically running home from Best Buy with my Blu-ray, I popped it right in, eager to revisit the film despite (or perhaps because of) my disappointment in it in the theater. I was excited to have the chance to revise my original opinion with modified expectations.

    Then I fell asleep after 20 minutes.

    I woke up on the couch an hour later, groggy but ready to rewind and reenter the fray. After all, I reasoned, all of the boring exposition was done with. The plot was laboriously and at little dramatic benefit connected to the first film, and now we could get on with the kicking. I was again thrilled by the two prison battles, even if I was more annoyed by the lengthy visiting room scene (who was that guy, why was he there, why did he never come back, what did we learn from him that we didn’t know before?) than I was last time.

    Then Rama gets out of jail and the movie stops fucking dead in the water for the next hour, with only the occasional fight scene to alleviate the boredom. The rest is mostly dull, uncharismatic people in shiny suits posing in front of overly art-directed sets, speaking very slowly and taking way too long to get across very little. The strip-search scene, for example, takes seven minutes. The scene with Rama standing by himself in his new apartment making phone calls is even longer. Every scene involving the gangsters is like that. These are the scenes most action movies plow through in 45 seconds because they’re so generic that they create a kind of shorthand. We get the gist without the need for anything to be belabored. Evans disagrees with me. Every scene, no matter how perfunctory, is a chance for him to stretch his legs. Every scene is well directed and performed, but their cumulative effect is exhausting. There is no momentum whatsoever in this film’s second act. If I never have to see another scene where gangsters talk strategy in front of a glass table, I will die happy.

    With the help of a break to eat some dinner, some text-based kvetching with Mouth, and my trusty fast-forward button (I skipped the interminable karaoke scene altogether, as I find Mob Boss Jr. to be the most unappealing major character I’ve had the displeasure of spending lots and lots of time with in many years) I made it to the part where the walking pile of behavioral and sartorial affectations posing as the main villain assembled his team. From then on, it was balls to the wall and everything I could ever want from a RAID sequel. Even the kitchen fight, which I found wearying in the theater, was exciting, probably because I had rested up prior to it and was not completely worn down by the glacial pace of the (many, many) exposition scenes.

    Like everyone else, I especially liked the Hammer Girl and Bat Boy (I find calling him “Man” while she is called “Girl” to be patronizing) scenes, and not just because they are thrillingly performed and choreographed. These characters have something no one else in the movie does: mutual affection. Each cared if the other lived or died, which made me care in turn. Everybody else in the movie was just meat. We should have arrived at these characters and this plot point easily a half hour earlier, but I’m glad we eventually got there. They provide the movie with the shot in the arm it needs to eventually stick the landing.

    My basic problem with the film, I feel, is that it’s going for suspense, but I feel nothing for these characters or this plot. Without empathy, suspense is just waiting. And that’s how I feel for most of the running time, like I’m just sitting there waiting to get to the good shit. The violence is what I paid for, but when I’m so bored by the preceding scenes, it provides not a cathartic release of pent-up dread, but merely an end to tedium. This tedium unfortunately bleeds over and taints even the action scenes, which are the movie’s only reason to exist. It’s hard to switch gears into adrenaline overload after struggling to stay awake for so long.

    I appreciate that Evans tried to take his story seriously and build atmosphere, but I think he confuses slow with deep. There’s no reason for most of these scenes to be this long. It’s detrimental to not just the pace but the drama. I find myself resenting the characters instead of being intrigued by them.

    So my reassessment this time is minor. Everything I disliked the first time, I dislike more, but it bothers me less because I can control the viewing experience. I can skip scenes (I will never watch any scene with the Japanese gang boss in it ever again), take breaks, pace myself so that when the action scenes happen, I’m not already exhausted. It turns the film into a series of incredible set-pieces instead of a story, but when a story is this dull and laborious and the action is this awesome, it’s a more attractive alternative.

    I hate to say this, but I’d like to see what the Weinsteins could do with this one. If ever a film could use a meddling studio exec, it’s this one.

    Well, now that I’ve just betrayed everything I ever believed in, let’s go to the grades.

    ORIGINAL RATING: B- (for dragging down amazing action scenes with seemingly unending lugubriousness)
    REVISED RATING: B+ (for having those amazing action scenes in the first place)

    P.S. Anybody see that awesome deleted scene? It felt like a little self-contained short film set in the Raidiverse. I can see why it was cut but I wish Evans had show some of the same restraint in the rest of the film.

  105. The Undefeated Gaul

    July 28th, 2014 at 2:24 pm

    We finally got this in theaters a few weeks ago so I finally got to watch it. I’m much more positive. The story’s only crime was that it was generic and done too many times in better ways. But then it has the action to give the film its own flavor and the action is amazing enough to make it all worthwile. My fav fight is the kitchen fight. I love how long it is and how it keeps escalating and how the score gets more furious. It was the most riveting thing I’ve seen in the theater in a LONG time. When it was over I literally felt like I had just ridden a rollercoaster.

    So yeah, I fucking love this movie.

  106. A lot of my [conditional] love for the theatrical viewings of RAIID came from the sense of exhilaration & surprise that this particular filmatist/crew/cast/film had somehow *made* it to the big screen nationwide. This is my people, my non-mainstream cinephile-sweet-spot, even if Uwais/Evans/Ruhian are on the other side of the world and we’ll never meet. And the narrative & length of narrative are weirdly stretched out in a way that makes the initial watch uniquely compelling, zen-like… this is a film that shouldn’t have gotten past the bouncers at the front door of the multiplex night club. And thankfully it did.

    But yeah of course Mr. Majestyk is correct. There’s fat that could be transferred to Koso’s dog’s bowl with a serrated Ginsu.

    Once we put this film on equal ground with its bigger-budget, similar-in-content-and-niche peers, it has flaws… flaws that make the non-stabbing portions boring. Doesn’t mean I won’t watch this at least once every 3 years, but it does mean we should expect & hope that Evans/Uwais/Ruhian will make an even better movie or 2 or 3 soon. Now that they’ve got a handle on how to RAID our senses, they can try [again] to make something that transcends our senses. (Or take my advice from upthread and work fresh with a different writer)

  107. If you would have a martial arts picture, where if you´d take out the martial arts and still it´s good would have been awesome. THE RAID 2 isn´t there yet, but I think the action works more organically into the story than what is usual and as a result it is a much more involving film than say ONG-BAK. I love it.

    I also approve of how the camera follows a guys head smashed into a table. I don´t think I have seen that before, but very effective.

  108. So I performed an experiment.

    I felt compelled to watch THE RAID 2 again. Those action scenes, man. They keep calling me back no matter how many problems I have with the rest of the film.

    So here’s what I did. I pressed play, then immediately hit the chapter skip button. The movie now starts 13 minutes in. Gone is the nicely shot but confusing and ultimately pointless shotgun execution. No more material connecting the first and second film. The movie now opens with a shot of the back of Rama’s head as he sits in a bathroom cell, waiting to be assaulted his fellow convicts. It’s a jolt of aggressive energy that throws you right into the middle of a story already in progress. Plus, it continues the themes of THE RAID 1 in synecdoche: a man alone in an enclosed space, fighting against waves and waves of enemies. We don’t need to laboriously set up who Rama is and why he’s there. Who cares? He’s a man alone in a dangerous place who has the skills to handle himself. It’s already compelling. The mystery makes it more so.

    This one simple excision changed the viewing experience entirely. We cut straight to Rama meeting Mob Boss Jr., who offers him a job. We don’t need to be told ahead of time who this person is. He’s such an archetype of the arrogant criminal heir apparent that we get it immediately. The story is better played straight at this point. We believe that Rama is just trying to do his time and not get involved with this flamboyant thug. It’s more dramatic to not know where Rama is really coming from.

    Then it gets a little tricky. We have to fast-forward through the gratuitous exposition of the visiting room scene straight to the prison yard fight. The set-up for this scene is now more compelling because we see Rama make a choice to fight with Mob Boss Jr. It’s not already a done deal because we know his entire mission would end if he died. It’s a proactive moment for the character, not a preordained one. Intrigue!

    We cut to Rama getting out of jail. He’s digging at his sleeve. What’s he doing? We see him pull something out but can’t tell what it is. He meets with Mob Boss Jr and leaves to go see Mob Boss Jr. The camera reveals a concealed wire. Oh my god, is Rama an undercover cop? Visual storytelling!

    We go through the strip-search team, which now seems less incredibly dull because it arrives 20 minutes earlier. We’re only about a half hour into the movie now, an appropriate length of time for how much story we’ve covered. The next scene, the incredibly boring phone calls sequence, is not a crucial curtain-raising expo dump, not a time suck. Rama’s superior exists only as an untrustworthy voice on the telephone. His backstory is a single shot of a scared wife at home. The story is so simple that we now know everything we need to know. Economy!

    The film can now more or less proceed normally. The shape has been corrected, the pace improved. The scenes I found wearying before now arrive earlier. My endurance has not been tested. I am properly rested for the amazing action scenes. If I had editing software, I would trim the karaoke scene (because it is interminable and serves no purpose other than to show what a dick Mob Boss Jr. is, which we know. I’d cut it entirely but that’s where Rama bugs him and that becomes important to the plot) and cut the shots of Rama’s superior racing to the climax (which he never arrives at) to keep the authorities shadowy and distant forces with no actual bearing on the proceedings. I think it’s more interesting and fits the themes of the piece better. There’s no help coming for Rama. He’s on his own out there. Drama!

    These changes improved my viewing experience immensely. Even scenes I hated before are now watchable and even intriguing. Mad Dog 2.0 now gets killed an hour in, an appropriate place for the plot to turn. The whole movie now moves at the right speed, while still having the space for dread and suspense to build.

    The other changes I made are optional, but I do recommend hitting the skip button the next time you watch the film on disc. I think you’ll be surprised how trimming that narrative fat right at the outset changes the whole experience for the better. The cost of converting the original script of BERENDAL into THE RAID 2 was too much. It’s better as a thematically linked standalone film.

    ORIGINAL GRADE: B-
    REVISED GRADE: B+
    MAJESTYK’S CUT GRADE: A

  109. Sorry for all the typos. If anything is unclear, I will happily explain myself. I feel strongly about this post and will stand by it.

  110. RAID 2 does have some weird story and structure issues, but it’s all negated by the fact that everything that happens is awesome. No, Sad Dog doesn’t really have any point to be in this story, except that his 3 scenes are all great. There’s a whole bunch of extraneous characters and plot developments, but they all at least work as individual scenes thanks to Evans’ style and desire to entertain.

    It’s funny, on the Bluray Evans keeps talking about how he kept going back to the script to make it more connected to the original RAID, which is just insanity. As Mr. M points out, cut out of the first 10 minutes or some of this one and you wouldn’t even know it was a sequel except that Iko Uwais is playing a character with the same name.

    That said, I still like the opening and it’s weird, fractured build-up to the bathroom fight. Although the story doesn’t hang together, Evans went way Leone-esque in terms of scale, story and pace, and I dig it. I don’t think it matches the original, which has a kind of brutal, stripped-down perfection about it. Part 2 is more of a bloated, ambitious attempt to try and squeeze in every idea Evans ever had for a cool scene, but luckily pretty much all of it is entertaining and stylish to the hilt, making it probably the best pure moviegoing experience of the year for me.

  111. I think my version of the film showcases the incredible awesomeness better. I tried watching the full cut twice and both times the extraneous material wears me down, sapping my attentiveness and making me unable to enjoy the good stuff as much as I should. When I watched it my way, I even liked some of the boring scenes I hated last time. Shit, I sat through the goddamn yakuza meeting without complaint. It’s a good lesson in how just a few minutes of missteps can really affect a film as a whole.

    But I can’t even front anymore: THE LEGO MOVIE is the film of 2014 for me. I’ve seen that fucker five times already (Twice of my own accord, once with the commentary track on, and twice with my nieces) and it’s never not visually and thematically fascinating. I never thought I’d be the type of guy who prefers an animated toy commercial for small children to an unadulterated kung fu massacre, but I gotta speak the truth on this one. Live action filmmakers, you are fucking up. Do better next year.

  112. I never found any of it boring. Even all the fat is full of great stuff.

  113. Even the beginning? I find all of the set-up so tedious and demystifying. It’s so much more elegant and attention-grabbing to just launch us right into the action and let us struggle to keep up. The entire first 15 minutes or so feels like throat-clearing, the kind of expository telling-not-showing a writer will use to clarify his thoughts in his first draft before he’s written scenes and characters to dramatize those ideas. It’s clumsy and, dare I say, amateurish. It’s such a stumble straight out of the gate that the story never regains its traction. When I skipped it, it felt like a whole different movie.

  114. Yeah, I think the beginning (which abruptly and absurdly cuts off all ties to part one) is pretty great, especially with the weird time-loop around the bathroom fight. It’s not a great story but by jove is it some great visual/cinematic storytelling.

  115. Weird. I can imagine not minding it (most didn’t) but actually liking it? That’s crazytalk.

  116. Count me as a person who thinks RAID 2 is pretty perfect as is, fat and all. As generic as it is, I actually really enjoy all the drama with the competing mob factions, and consider Uco to be quite an interesting character, an almost Kubrickian contrast of weakness to Rama’s strength. I find the glacial pace to be perfectly in tune with the movie’s style, making the outrageous fights even more potent.

    However, I will grant, maybe, that the weakest part of the movie is the early setup with Rama. I like the shotgun scene, but I’m not sure why Evans thought he needed to tie the start of this one so directly into the first RAID (ie, that we see him debriefed immediately after the events of the first one). I might be willing to entertain losing the early scenes with Inspector Bunawar and just letting the rest of the story speak for itself. That’s really it, though; otherwise, I’m falling squarely into the “more is more” camp as far as Evans is concerned. More and crazier fights, more over-the-top art direction, more characters, more runtime, more unnecessary continuity, more everything. I’ll take it as long as he’s dishing it out.

  117. I’m on the fence about the shotgun scene. It’s a cool scene all by itself but I don’t understand why Cane Guy was the one who took out Rama’s brother. He was supposed to be some independent upstart not tied into the first film’s criminal hierarchy, yet he acts like he’s already the boss of bosses. He’s basically solving a rival company’s HR problem for them.

    Also how did he get five of his employees to just sit there and get their throats cut for him? I don’t get this guy.

  118. Your problem might be that you are paying too much attention to the plot, which isn’t the good part. Everything else is the good part.

  119. But if I’m not supposed to care about it, why is there so much of it?

  120. I’m with Mr. Subtlety. I love every fat-laden part of this flick. I love its pure, unadulterated ambition. As much as I adore the first Raid, it was clearly an exercise in style. I love that Gareth felt the freedom to stretch his legs. I find I have to acknowledge that there must be an issue for most people in following the plot, since so many people have commented on it, but I had no problems whatsoever following the story. And while there wasn’t a fight to top the Rama/Donny/Mad Dog capper in the first film, I thought the overall volume and quality of fight scenes in Pt. 2 improved on Pt. 1. If The Raid 1 was a great artisinal hamburger with a perfect side of fries, The Raid 2 was a perfectly cooked porterhouse with an incredible side of creamed spinach.

  121. The film definitely isn’t as self assured during the Godfatheresque moments. But I did appreciate the ambition of Evans. I’m glad he tried something new, and we didn’t get more of the same. He’s obviously trying to expand the scope of his filmmaking, and if he stumbles some then that’s okay with me, especially since so much of the film is an embarrassment of riches.

    I noticed that Evans wrote the film as well, and I think he could use a little more collaboration in the plot department. There are a number of sticky moments in the movie. It seems strange that Rama goes undercover to take down corrupt police officers and then, with the exception of a line later in the film, this is almost completely forgotten. It goes without saying that the action is superb, but I also liked the drama, and I thought the character conflicts were well established. I just wish the plot moved more smoothly.

  122. Because everything that happens in the plot is great, it just doesn’t make any sense or flow

  123. I find Mr Majestyk´s dvdedit fascinating and I can see his point of view. Even though I don´t think pacing should be the end goal of every film. It´s nice to see even a martial arts film to stop and breathe.

    Personally THE RAID 2 it did for me what I expected. Of course, if you look at it from a plotpoint of view, it´s hardly original. The plot isn´t a mindblowing experience and in a martial arts epic it shouldn´t. These films are built for repeat viewing so the trick is to craft a plot that stand up for repeat viewings without being generic and stale and i think Evans has succeeded somewhat with THE RAID 2.

    Evans narrative is more interesting than if a less creative director would have done it. I sincerely liked the opening and setup and how elliptic it was told. I like the artistic pretensions of it. The plot has all sorts of crazy and/or interesting characters as well, so I don´t mind the length. I wanted a more expanded story than previous raid and got it. Evans could have gone an easy route, turning this film into a similar experience but instead using a prison where the whole story takes place might have worked, but I don´t want the first raiding tainted. It should stand on its own and so should this.

    But I can´t honestly approve of fucking with a man´s work like Mr Majestyk did though. Not recommended and highly uncool. You are meddling with dangerous powers. Are we going to have THE RAID 2 :THE FANCUT soon? What are we, Star Wars “fans”?

  124. I’m not trying to change the movie for everyone. This edit is just for my own personal use. Do you ever skip a song when listening to an album? Same deal. I like this album but there are a couple slow songs that really drag it down. Without them, I want to listen to the album more often. So everybody wins.

  125. So I just saw this for the first time, prompted by Majestyks George Lucas/re-edit/fiddling/procedure/experiment, and I liked it. I liked the expansion of the RAID/Rama universe. Someone mentioned a Leone vibe in this, and yeah, maybe, but only if they mean’t more like the canvas and feel of a DOLLARS TRILOGY or ONCE UPON A TIME IN THE WEST, than ONCE UPON A TIME IN AMERICA, which was about gangsters, but more about regret and time running out and chasing dragons in opium dens. I’d agree they both have at-times hard to follow plot lines and lots of different characters.

    THE RAID 1 (redemption not necessary) is a great horror/action film, and I was excited that Evan’s was taking a risk with this one. Evan’s even meta-signposted his intentions in the opening monologue of RAID 2 when the gangster in the field gives his captive a lecture about the consequences of ambition. Then blows his head off.

    I liked all the quiet, minimal dialogue long-shot scenes in clubs and offices with gangsters standing around in suits, evoking Kitano’s Yakuza films. The casual violence, like when Uco opens up five jugulars while talking business with Bejo on the red carpet, is just as shocking as the furious action driven violence in the fight scenes.

    I think Evan’s ambition paid off. Can’t wait to see where he takes the next round.

  126. Over at Twitch, The Raid guys have posted 5 more deleted scenes from pt 2 online, just in time for the BD/DVD release. Oh, wait. Ah, well, here they are:

    http://twitchfilm.com/2014/09/watch-a-fistful-of-deleted-scenes-from-the-raid-2.html

  127. The Undefeated Gaul

    November 10th, 2014 at 5:31 am

    Anyone see this? That shitty SF film Skyline (which admittedly had decent effects) is getting a spin-off… starring Iko Uwais and Yayan Ruhian??

    “Beyond Skyline has now made some interesting casting signings. Namely, Iko Uwais and Yayan Ruhian, the two stars of The Raid. Furthermore, the pair will not only star in the movie, but they will also be choreographing the fights in it as well.

    As Greg Strause told Variety, “we’re showcasing a new kind of alien combat, so who better to collaborate with then the most innovative fight team in the world?”

    Aliens doing Raid-style martial arts? Sure, I’ll watch that.

    http://www.denofgeek.com/movies/skyline/32869/frank-grillo-and-the-raids-iko-uwais-joins-skyline-spin-off

  128. Well, that sounds pretty cool. I actually didn’t mind SKYLINE. Of the 40 or so generic alien invasion movies that have come out in the last few years, that one was at least competently shot and got right to the point. Throw in some awesome fight scenes along with the better-than-expected visual effects and we might just have something here.

  129. And as we all know, pulling the trigger on a plasma rifle is like ordering takeout from your local star system

  130. Majestyk, how you feel about RAID 2 is how I feel about the Hyams UNISOL movies or MAN OF STEEL. I just skip to the excellently done assbeatings because everything else bores me.

    If I had editing software, I would trim the karaoke scene (because it is interminable and serves no purpose other than to show what a dick Mob Boss Jr. is, which we know. I’d cut it entirely but that’s where Rama bugs him and that becomes important to the plot)

    The scene has a little bit more going on than that. There’s a throughline in the film of characters who don’t feel as powerful as they appear. His self-awareness in admitting that he was bothered not by what the karaoke girl said to him but that she thought she could say it, catches us off-guard – he has power enough to make security look the other way, but not enough to prevent her from mouthing off and pushing the silent alarm button. It’s one of my favorite peeks inside a character’s head in the whole film. He’s a mob boss’s son and feels like a middle manager. Rama’s an asskicking machine filled with anxiety and fear. Bejo can’t give an intimidating speech without coughing uncontrollably. Nobody gets to flex nuts in this movie without accidentally revealing what they hoped would remain a hidden vulnerability, and I love that.

  131. Trailer for Iko Uwais’ new one, HEADSHOT – which might be NSFW, so tread careful you guys:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-sQwjpopd0g

  132. At least now we know what an Indonesian silat Hard to Kill looks like. I cannot wait.

  133. Video taken down but it has been reupped or whatever the kids call it.

    (Presumably it was removed by a YouTube that refused to believe some of the cats behind THE RAID films plus Huggy Bear made a sequel to a truly horrendous sci-fi flick).

  134. karlos, is this the video with Iko Uwais wearing a motorcycle helmet and then fights a dude and then reveals himself right before an alien walks by? I really have no idea how this sequel got made but I’m not mad at it.

  135. I’m… So conflicted about a sequel to Skyline starring Iko. I mean, this will have to prove my thesis, right? The sequel could be awesome. Probably can’t retroactively make the original good though.

  136. Sternshein – Yes, sir, that is the one. Here it is (and hopefully the link works):

    BEYOND SKYLINE Trailer 2017 - Frank Grillo Iko Uwais Yayan Ruhian

    Iko Uwais masih terus bikin aksi. 2017 ini giliran alien jadi lawannya. Film yang sudah syuting dari 2015 ini ternyata masih dalam proses pos produksi dan ke...

    Note: NSFW

    Fred – It’s such a strange thing to make but hey, it looks like it could be fun and will certainly be better than the first with Iko and crew on board.

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