Tuesday, 3 March 2015

Noteworthy Films of 2014: The Raid 2

The Raid rejuvenated my love for martial arts films back in 2013, and I eagerly awaited it’s sequel. 
With a heftier story, an assortment of memorable characters and an overall larger scale, the film once again showcases the action set-pieces and visceral nature that we’ve come to expect and love from director Gareth Evans and his team. 

As a direct sequel I admire Evan’s attempts to add weight to the film’s plot. The first instalment’s bare-bones story merely provided light context for the hard-hitting action, but The Raid 2 attempts to adds narrative significance and consequence to the brawls and casualties with relative success. From the Indonesian gangster underworld to the Japanese Yakuza, betrayal, corruption and the overarching “undercover” thread, Evan’s has thrown everything into the sequel and the result is an engaging story running at a breakneck pace. 

Escaping the confines of the tower block, The Raid 2 explores everywhere from Jakarta’s prisons and back alleys to it’s nightclubs and restaurants. The stark contrast between the city’s differing lifestyles, while offers new environments for the brutal exchanges, gives a welcomed essence of life and variety to The Raid 2’s world. 

But it’s the martial arts that are once again the champion of the film. The unbelievable choreography and action scenes are in abundance, managing to surpass those of The Raid. From shootouts to car chases, everything feels grander and even more brutal than last time. Head’s are blown apart by shotguns, breaking bones is part of Rama’s daily routine and blood splatter plasters the deteriorating walls. Nothing is left to the imagination. Yet even with it’s overriding brutality and non-stop tempo, there are some very strong performances on offer. Iko Uwais’ Rama isn’t the stone-faced “superhero” that has plagued the action genre, but a conflicted individual who is fearful of the circumstances he finds himself force into. Meanwhile Arifin Putra also puts in a solid shift as the youthful and volatile antagonist. 

The film’s cinematography and editing perfectly capture the events and the film’s overall ferocity The multiplicity and methodology on and behind the camera is incredible to watch. From the intimacy of a car’s interior to the rugged expanse of a prison’s yard, each is filmed beautifully and meticulously.

The Raid 2 is an exhilarating assault to both the eyes and ears. Rarely pausing, Gareth Evan’s isn’t afraid to cram the 150 minute runtime with broken bones and blood soaked floors. Great performances and choreography, slick cinematography and editing, and an uncompromising and brutal demeanour make this one of the most enjoyable films of 2014. The unfortunate side effect of The Raid series now, is that watching western action films has becoming increasingly stale, slow and obsolete.

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