Monday, September 26, 2016

The Raid 2

The Raid 2; action crime, Indonesia / USA, 2014; D: Gareth Evans, S: Iko Uwais, Arifin Putra, Oka Antara, Tio Pakusadewo

Jakarta. After the last events, and upon hearing that his brother Andi was killed by criminal Bejo, police officer Rama agrees to go to an undercover mission to expose a mafia web from within: he is sent to prison under a fake identity, Yuda, in order to make friends with Uco, whose father is crime lord Bangun. After being released from prison, Bangun hires Rama to work for him. An impatient Uco wants to attack the Japanese mafia, causing clashes which Bangun has to settle. Uco kills his father, which causes Rama to intervene. Rama is captured, but flees thanks to Eka, another undercover agent. Rama storms Bejo's restaurant. Bejo and Uco are killed.

After "The Raid" achieved cult status, Gareth Evans also directed its sequel, with an inversion of the strategy: while the 1st film has constant action and very little character development, in part 2 this ratio is overturned upside down, now giving more character development and story, with less action or battle sequences. The story has little to do with the original, and instead takes on an entirely different turn, which reminds of "Infernal Affairs" - the main protagonist, police officer Rama, here goes undercover to win the trust of a crime lord and infiltrate his gangster circle - yet it is overfilled with too many supporting characters and suffers from overcomplicating the simple storyline, causing an exhaustion that is simply way too much for some viewers. "The Raid 2" ends up with a running time that is 50% longer than the 1st film, losing its measure in endless subplots, but its overall effect is not 50% stronger, as well, since these overlong and overstuffed storylines simply cause a yearning for one phrase: sometimes, less is more. The dialogues are often banal, whereas some moments are just way too primitive (gangster Bajo cutting the throat of five hostages in a room, one by one). Still, Evans and actor Iko Uwais manage to compensate thanks to a dozen martial arts fights, some of which are again virtuoso crafted: the 6-minute sequence where Rama struggles to escape from two bodyguards in a driving car, leading to an epic car chase through the streets, is directed and acted with such a passion that it bloomed into a small highlight of the action genre.


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