Damn. The Raid 2 continues of the story of Rama (Iko Uwais), the only surviving cop from the first Raid movie. Soon after thinking he's free, Rama is forced to go undercover in a prison full of martial arts artists (surely they knew martial arts prior to being arrested, right?) to help take down a chain of corrupt cops. That's about it, really. It sounds simple enough, but this "simple" plot ends up being stretched out into an almost three hour long movie of freaking pain. Well, I wasn't feeling this pain, but The Raid 2 can bring on the pain.
This film, much like the first, is freaking brutal. The action sequences somehow manage to up the standards set by the first, adding in more twig-like legs to be snapped off with the pull of a finger. This film is, to put it simply, insane. The stakes have been increased, adding a larger set piece to each fight and a heck of a lot more blood. There's a fight sequence in a muddy prison block that is easily the most exciting, high-octane and cringe-worthy sequence in the whole film, although every action scene could fall under this description. While the first film's short runtime made it non-stop thrills, The Raid 2 has a more lenient runtime, allowing the action to spread and giving us a chance to soak in the awesomeness we just witnessed.
The choreography in these fight scenes are just brutal too. Whoever is behind the choreography in this film seriously needs some credibility (if they don't have any already). They have managed to up the first when it comes to the action, despite it not coming as one long, continuous action scene, which is what I loved so much about the first. I don't care if there's not a category that suits their job, give that person an Oscar NOW!
There's a car chase scene in this film that will just blow your mind away, or at least it did mine. The scene is fast and thrilling (I was so tempted to say furious there, but we'll just move on from this wasted opportunity), featuring a whole lot of badass. It goes on and on, all while never lingering at one particular point. It's always adding something new and interesting without going overboard. It's also filmed excellently, if that means anything to anybody.
Iko Uwais' performance in the first Raid film was decent, but nothing that's worth raving about. In The Raid 2 he gives an even better performance, adding in a layer of emotion to the character. He was neat and all in the fist Raid, but in this one he's outstanding, making his injuries (and yes, there's injuries) have an impact on us as an audience, and not just because of how insanely brutal some of them are.
The only flaw that this film's got is its runtime, oh and the stretched out plot, but I've already mentioned that. The film clocks in at 150 minutes and you can really feel it. The addition of multiple sub-plots, although entertaining, especially when we're introduced to a hammer-wielding maniac, are tedious. They pull the runtime from 100 minutes, the first film, and add an extra 50 minutes onto it, some of which is unnecessary.
To sum up, The Raid 2's runtime and many subplots don't do it any favours, but with the amount of insanely awesome action sequences that this film's got and an emotional performance from Iko Uwais, it hardly does wrong.
4 1/2 Stars