I love martial art movies. So when I heard that writer / director Gareth Evans had made a sequel to his brilliant 2011 masterpiece The Raid, I was very excited.
The Raid was a Indonesian action film directed by Gareth Evans (not to be confused with Gareth Edwards who is directing the new Godzilla movie) who is Welsh but has been based in Indonesia for a few years now and has made a couple of action films there with star Iko Uwais. The plot of The Raid was simple, a team of police officers, with rookie cop Iko Uwais, attack an apartment complex that an evil drug lord owns and allows various criminals to hide out in for protection. The cops are betrayed by a corrupt cop and Iko Uwais has to battle 15 floors of criminals to take out the bad guy. The film is a non-stop adrenaline rush.
The sequel is set right after the first film. Spoilers, the first film ends with the drug dealer dead, Iko Uwais and one injured cop living and the crooked cop under arrest. Iko Uwais had discovered that his brother was working for the drug dealer and now that the drug dealer was dead, his brother has moved up in the ranks and promises Iko Uwais protection from the gangs and the corrupt police.
The movie starts with up and coming gangster Bejo killing Iko Uwais’ brother. Iko Uwais meets with a cop who takes the injured cop to get medical treatment and kills the corrupt cop. He is then offered a job to work undercover. The police corruption is extremely high in the city and these guys want to take it all down. Once Iko Uwais finds out that his brother was killed and his family isn’t safe he agrees. The first step is to get arrested and sent to prison where he can befriend the son of the one of the two powerful gangsters in the city. He does but instead of getting a couple of months he gets a term of a couple of years. Iko Uwais manages to befriend the gangster’s son played by Arifin Putra (who could be a dead ringer for the late Brandon Lee) by saving his life during an awesome prison yard fight.
Once Uwais’ time is up he goes to work with Putra and his father. Most of the assignments are straight money collecting. Putra gets sick of his father not letting him run things and makes a deal with Bejo to take over things. Despite going undercover to get evidence on corrupt cops Uwais manages to get very little. Almost none in fact because he gets caught up in all the mobster politics.
The film is a slow burn. Evans lets the plot build and the characters develop instead of just unleashing non-stop fight scenes like he did in the first Raid. The fighting gets quite brutal. This could be one of the more violent movies released this year. The people I dragged to the movie were a little traumatized afterwards. I believe their consensus was “great film, a bit too brutal for their tastes.” I must be extremely desensitized to violent movies, It really didn’t affect me. In fact I was extremely entertained.
There’s a scene where Bujo, after making a deal with Putra, sends out his squad of assassins to eliminate the some of Japanese gang and start a gang war. The one guy uses these curved blades to carve up his opponents and then there’s the duo. Baseball Bat Man and Hammer Girl. Baseball Bat Man eliminates his enemies with an aluminum bat and a baseball and Hammer Girl uses two claw hammers. Her fight scene on the subway was the scene that traumatized my friends. She attacks a squad of knife wielding bodyguards using the hammers to hammer and tear them apart. She manages to use the claw on the back of the hammers to rip everybody up. Yes it’s brutal but let’s be realistic. I don’t think those hammers really work that way. Yes the scene is violent but it’s ludicrously over the top, which is way I found it entertaining, after all it’s just movie magic.
I loved the movie and if you enjoy violent kung fu films then you need to see this movie. It is actually playing right now in Regina at the Rainbow Cinemas Studio 7 theatre. It ends Thursday May 1st and it plays daily at 3:45 and 6:30. I don’t know when the movie is getting a DVD / Blu-ray release, no date has been set yet so this is the only legitimate way of seeing at the moment. Go see now!