Raid 2, The (UK - DVD R2)
Marcus is late with this one as he was pulling a claw hammer from his back.
The Raid 2, written and directed by Gareth Evans is the sequel to the 2011 hit The Raid: Redemption. This time around Rama (Iko Uwais), is sent undercover to take down both corrupt police officials and the gangs of the criminal underworld. Loaded with double crosses, life threatening situations and family politics, The Raid 2 pushes the martial arts mayhem even further and winds up being one of the most exhilarating action movies of the year.
With a bit of back story and set up all pretty well cobbled together at the beginning, the film really kicks off with Rama, sitting patiently in a prison toilet cubicle, while his fellow inmates attempt to break down the door. From the moment the door comes down and the manic fighting kicks off, The Raid 2 is out to impress with its sheer overload of superfast martial arts and ever increasing intensity (and lets not forget the stabby stabby elements and the numerous other weapons to hand, including hammers, baseball bats and curved blades). The Raid 2 uses whatever it has to hand and with the numerous impressive set pieces stitched together with a fairly good weaving story the pretty long two and a half hour runtime flies by.
Cynically speaking, The Raid 2 is structured much like a video game. A pattern forms that has the audience presenting with series of set ups introducing us to the special ability loaded characters, usually within a unique arena to fight in. Then the film goes quiet for a few beats, slowing down our senses letting us know a fight is coming. It’s very much what gamers are used to within many a fighting game and the anticipation of what's about to come is very well used. However even being aware of this rather heavily used game like structure, nothing can really hold back the film from being very much its own beast and boy does it have teeth.
Every fight here is enthralling on some level. Whether it's sheer numbers, the brutality or a specialist weapon being used, the action here is intoxicating. I could probably watch a claw hammer do its thing on a victim for a whole movie runtime and still be shocked but these short sharp visuals of the damage any of the weapons do here is jaw dropping. Each main boss baddie with their special trait is set up beautifully at key moments of the film, so when Rama has to tackle them all in the last brutal half hour or so of the film, we’re more than aware of how hard these guys (and one hammer wielding girl) can be.
Even with that already impressive feat, Welsh director Gareth Evans still manages to go that one step further and totally ups the martial arts game with his final fight which is easy to follow, absolutely intense and packed with enough raw drama that it makes this all feel important to the story and not just show boating. Sure, The Raid 2 still has its over spilling of showboating at times, usually packed into one too many cool stares before fights but it really does nothing to dampen the effect this film has. It’s fast, furious, often insane, more often than not brutal and just a blast to watch as all great martial arts driven movies should be but what makes it a double threat is that the plot is solid too, which makes this an action movie to be reckoned with.
This broody, dark toned film comes across more murky than stylish on its DVD home. You can tell by the orange colouring and warm lighting it should more than likely shine on Blu-ray but here it makes the darker scenes seem lacking in detail and almost as if the shadows are winning a battle against the well lit elements. The greyer, colder scenes fair better with edges a lot stronger and detailed. Exterior scenes and brighter interior based scenes are much crisper but the standard definition softness restricts any sort of pop, making this a fairly middling way to view the film.
The fighting scenes clump home the impacts and swooshing of arms, legs, weapons and all you’d expect, the club scene thumps us over the head with bassy beats and the odd bit of gunfire feels loaded with weight. Dialogue is crisp throughout, always clear and only really suffer is a whole lot of other stuff is going on, it sometimes feels a bit lost within louder music in a scenes or a lot of action but only rarely.
This isn’t the strongest of tracks but it certainly has its highlights. Ambient sounds such as traffic and rain make great use of the rear speakers. Layers are added with droplets of water dotting around the front and centre speakers to fill out the track and the score and bass generally underpins the whole thing. The overall effect keeps you locked into any given moment in a slick audio experience that to me was almost there but needed a bit more power behind it at times, that even a volume button didn't quite bring.
The Commentary with writer/director Gareth Evans is a detailed track. He discusses locations, the changes for the sequel and his aims for the film. It’s an easy listen along with the film and provides a great insight for fans of the film.
‘The Next Chapter: Shooting A Sequel' (10:21) has the director leads you through the films set and we chat to many of the cast but this is an extended EPK at best and a bit too fluffy to be considered detailed.
The Raid 2 has a plot we've seen before, is structured in a very video game way and has a whole lot of fighting that treads a fine line between realistic and not so much but any of the negatives in there don’t really do anything to take away from the sheer thrill ride this sequels holds within it. The plot may be a trodden in affair but the action here is so intense and rewarding to watch you can’t help but grin, wince, gasp and outright cheer at the dazzling visuals you are seeing before you as they grow more and more in excessive violence and martial arts mayhem. The film celebrates its adult target and reminds us that 12a is all well and good for the crowds but you feel every hit in an 18 certificate and sometimes that just ups the enjoyment (especially when there’s hammer involved). The disc is okay for DVD but across video, audio and extras, it’s easy to sum up all with the phrase “It’s nothing special”, which is a shame because the film really is.
Review by Marcus Doidge
Suitable only for persons of 18 years and over
Release Date: 11th August 2014
Disc Type: Single side, dual layer
Audio: Dolby Digital 5.1 Indonesian, Dolby Digital 5.1 English
Extras: Commentary, Featurette
Easter Egg: No
Director: Gareth Evans
Cast: Iko Uwais, Julie Estelle, Yayan Ruhian
Genre: Action and Drama
Length: 164 minutes
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