The Raid 2 (2014)

Director: Gareth Evans

You may recall me being sufficiently blown away by The Raid that I knew I had to see both the sequel and Evans’ previous effort Merantau. The latter arrived in the post today, while the sequel was, obviously, tonight’s viewing. And yeah, part 2 does live up to the original, remarkably enough. Did it live up to expectations, though? That I’m not sure of. Certainly I don’t think it was quite as continuously excessive as part 1, although, having said that, that’s actually probably not a bad thing, cos when the violence does erupt it is inclined to be pretty hellacious (notably the prison riot, the choreography of which is quite something), especially once outright gang war erupts in the second half. If this film had hammered the viewer with almost non-stop violence (and I use the word “hammered” advisedly; one female gangster in the film literally takes a couple of hammers to the opposition) of that level, I don’t know if it would’ve been tolerable. Anyway, Evans has a somewhat bigger story this time; coming more or less straight off the end of the first Raid, Rama now finds himself drafted into undercover work, posing as a member of one of the biggest criminal gangs in town in order to bring down the corrupt police from the first film who’ve been working with said gang. There is, however, tension within the gang—the son of the leader getting fed up with the old man’s refusal to give him more power—and, of course, they’re hardly the only gang in town. Complications ensue, exceptionally violent ones at that. The plot is, to be sure, not hugely original, but that’s not the point anyway; if the story is kind of late 80s/early 90s Hong Kong crime thriller, the carnage is something even John Woo or Ringo Lam might’ve hesitated over. Remarkably, despite being just shy of 150 minutes long,The Raid 2 somehow never feels too draggy, it obviously feels long but never too much so. Quite an achievement in many and varied ways, this has now got me eager for the third installment, and kind of furious that it probably won’t be out for another three years at the earliest…

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