Second time trying to see this damn film, and the subtitles actually worked! I understood what was going on in the film! If you don’t know what I’m talking about, click here, but it’s been a long journey trying to see The Raid 2 at this year’s SXSW. I had two more options to see the film, one at midnight on Monday evening, or a 9:45 showing close to where I’m residing for the week on a Tuesday evening. I chose the latter. It was worth it, as the crowd wasn’t that large, and I made some good conversation with two fine gentlemen while I sat in line. We talked about our love of the first Raid film, The Raid Redemption. When I saw the film back in 2012, it was one of the best times I have had watching a movie. The film is violent and brutal but just a blast to watch. The first film was shot for under 1 Million dollars in American money, and I told my new friends in line that the film was 100x more entertaining than most no-brainer blockbusters with CGI thrown in to all the fight scenes. So I got a great seat, the subtitles worked, and finally, here is my review of The Raid 2.
The film picks up hours after the first Raid film. Rama, our films protagonist from the first film and in this film, is told to go undercover after somebody he loved is killed by a ruthless gangster. Rama agrees, and we see his rise into the crime syndicate, making buddies in prison with Uco, whom he must be friendly with in order to uncover the corruption inside this vast empire, which is a family one. Uco is a selfish little prick who is hell-bent on becoming the head of his families crime empire, but that will be when his father passes or gives it to him. Rama must watch his back in this new world, as at any minute anybody could discover his secret, and himself and his family could be in serious danger.
The film was written and directed by Gareth Evans, who made the first Raid film and makes the second in a planned trilogy. So the film feels as gritty and realistic as the original, but unlike the original, where it was a basic story of a Indonesian SWAT team infiltrating an apartment complex in a matter of hours, this is a crime thriller epic that spans over years. The film is a lot bigger than the original film, even if it only cost around 4 million to make this new film. The story isn’t a game changer, but I admire Evans for actually giving us a story in this new film, as you start to have more of a connection for some of the characters, and Rama’s infiltration of this empire is something that is quite spectacular. It also doesn’t help that the film is beautifully shot. The film blends different color pallets beautifully, with some shots having a grey and muggy look to them, and some very vibrant in their colors, like Red, which you will see a lot of when you see the film.
And of course, the action is bigger this time around, and there is more of it. I know this is a bit of a stretch, but I kind of like to think of these films like an art house picture in some respects. The fighting, which is primarily hand to hand combat, is quite spectacular to watch, and even more fascinating to watch the characters use the environments around them to beat the living hell out of their enemy. And the action moves all over the place, as there are spectacular fights in bars, kitchens, you name it. It also includes one of the greatest car chases in cinematic history, and when you see the film, I think you’ll agree with me on that. And there’s not one action scene in this film that feels lesser than the others. It all feels brutal and more painful than the last, and while the last film has and still has some of the greatest fight sequences of all time, this film is even better.
If I had some complaints with the film, it would be that the actual story of the film is maybe a tad bit too long, as there were some parts, and these parts are very small and scarce, that dragged a little bit. But the story in the film is a vast improvement to the original film, and The Raid 2 as a whole is a vast improvement to the already stellar The Raid Redemption. The film is just a blast to watch, and the audience I saw it with was having a helluva good time with me. We laughed and hollered at the craziness of the films brutality, and it was one of the best times I’ve had watching a movie in a theater. And I had better seats than when I was at the “screening” on Sunday night, so maybe everything happens for a reason. To sum things up, The Raid 2 may be the best film to have played this year at SXSW, or it’s at least to most fun you’ll have watching a film from SXSW this year. Luckily you don’t need to wait to long to see the film, as it will be released here in The United States on March 28th, so I beg you to go find a theater around you and go check out this bad ass little Indonesian masterpiece. So the film part of SXSW is starting to wind down unfortunately, so my reviews will become more scarce in the coming days. I don’t know how many more films I’ll see, but it’s been a helluva good time so far, and if this badge deal works out again next year, It would be my honor to do this all over again.