Author: John Mathews
I'm not going to lie, I'm not the biggest fan of action movies. Most Hollywood action movies are filled with cliche characters and situations, annoying me for the lack of character development and focus more on eye candy CGI explosions. If we get an action movie to review I would most likely request not review it and give it to another editor here at 'the directors suite' that likes action. The raid 2 however is a beast of it's own, an action movie that works. I was shocked by how much I enjoyed the Raid 2, I'd compare it very similarly to terminator 2; another action movie that is a classic. The raid is an undercover police drama, gorefest, character driven martial arts masterpiece. The first raid was too restricted by it's setting, this one takes things out of the building and on a grand scale, it is the Ben Hur of martial arts.
It takes place immediately after the first, Rama decides to go into jail undercover to find who killed his brother, his undercover name is Yuda. He intends on getting close to corruption within the crime world, seems pretty simple, sounds similar to the departed, however this is the departed on steroids. As soon as he arrives in the prison, Yuda is already starting up trouble. His fight scenes are incredible to say the least, there is a massive riot fight in the prison yard. It is in a mudslide, the camera work films the complex scene in one take, panning from one character to the next, it drifts around the scene; incredibly smooth and also effective. We then fast forward two years where Yuda has been released out of prison, he saved Uco's life on the inside; so his father is greatful and would like to meet him. There are breath taking moments when he first meets Ucos father and asks him to strip in search of a wire. Uco's father is the head gangster of Indonesia sharing his turf with the Japanese.
That is the key concept of this film, gangs, territory and honour. Between these two families is a small time crook who wants to rise up and take over the crime scene, all while Bejo is caught in the middle of it trying to uncover a corruption and crime ring. It is also a drama of family feuds and respects. There is this constant fear that he will get caught for being undercover and an emotional connection between him and his wife, who he had to abandon for this mission.
The story seems straight forward but it is the extreme amounts of twists and turns that leave you shocked and wanting to know more about these characters. The characters are indeed one of the strong aspects, Uco plays a complete sociopath with no remorse for anyone who gets in his way, him and Bejo are probably some of the most intriguing villains ever put to cinema. The more you watch them, the more horrified you feel by their actions; including one scene which involves a scalpel and five victims. Speaking of gore, if you are a horror fan but don't like martial arts movie; see this movie!
The violence is at times over the top and reminded myself of the story of Ricki-O (a brilliant little hong kong movie). We see hamers smashed in peoples heads, machete fights and one of the goreiest fist fight you will ever witness, these moments alone make it appealing. The fight scenes will draw in fans of martial arts films as these are quite possibly the best choreographed fight scenes ever composed, the stunt work will leave your jaw on the ground. We see a car ram someone through the wall, then Yuda gets out of the car and fight an army of gangsters, reminstent of Kill Bill Vol.1.
There is a car chase scene which had myself holding my breath as I had never seen such a smooth and cleverly filmed scene, and it didn't need explosions to draw you in. The biggest thing is there was no CGI in the car chase, a common issue with action movies, destroying the impact it has on the viewer. With all these elements and different genres, the Raid 2 is either going to be a disaster or masterpiece, thankfully it's a masterpiece.
Director Gareth Evans has somehow managed to fuse everything in so well, his directing is very impressive, he is on top of his game now. This is the best film I have seen this year (it is also one of the better films of the decade so far) I rarely hand out 5's but this one for its craftsmanship deserves it.
Madman presents the Raid 2 in its original Aspect ratio of 2.40:1. The Raid 2 is a film that constantly changes colours depending on its environment. The opening shots and in the prison is very grey, but there is a perfect balance of grey. These scenes don't appear washed out and maintain a rich contrast balance between black and grey. The outdoor scenes are more colourful and here we see more natural greens, oranges and blues; all extremely rich. There is no digital noise or grain in dark scenes. Overall this transfer maintains the directors original intentions on how the film was supposed to look. There is also large amounts of detail and clarity in scenes with no blurring or trailing, even during in intense fight scenes.
The Raid 2 is presented to us in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1, we get both the original Indonesian soundtrack and an English dub. For those unfamiliar with the Raids story might get a bit confused so the English dub will add a bit of clarity to the plot, apart from that the Indonesian track is the best way to experience it. It is lossless with a high bit rate, so action scenes explode through the speaker system. A good example was the car chase scene where the 5.1 setup was rumbling from the intensity of the experience. Dialogue comes across clear with a great balance in sounds, you never find yourself having to turn your volume up or down. The soundtrack also sounds fantastic in lossless, overall this is a great way to demo your sound system.
Madman presents us a large amount of extras, all on the one Blu-ray Disc itself. These include.
Feature commentary with Director Gareth Evans
A very useful commentary for fans of the film, he discusses location scouting and his intentions to make the sequel much more epic. Gareth tells us trivia here and there and also how various shots/ stunts were accomplished.
The Next Chapter: Shooting a Sequel
This mini feature explains the intensities for making the Raid 2, it is rather interesting hearing Gareth talk about this film being the first film he wanted to do, and the Raid 1 was more of a filler. It also discusses script changes and interviews a few of the cast and their opinions on it.
Ready for a Fight: On Location
A feature that shows the ons set locations where various scenes were filmed.
Gang War Deleted Scene
A very violent deleted scene of a shoutout between two rival gangs, I'm surprised this was cut. I'm talking gallons of blood, it has to be seen to be believed.
Cinefamily Q&A with Gareth Evans, Iko Uwais & Joe Trapanese
A very humours Q&A with the director and cast after the films premiere. Evans is a funny guy and also acts a translator for the cast and crew. It runs over 40 minutes longs.
A Violent Ballet: Behind the Choreography
This focuses entirely on the fight sequences, if you a martial arts film fantastic; this is for you. It interviews the choreographer for the stunt scenes and how they were accomplished with the cast.