Without a doubt, The Raid 2 has been one of the most critically acclaimed movies to punch its way into theatres in 2014. After receiving unanimous praise on the festival circuit it struck a chord with cinema goers everywhere thanks to its insane fight scenes that were laced with beautiful and game-changing choreography. Audiences cheered and recoiled in horror as the chaos unfolded; The Raid 2 is more than a movie, it’s an experience.
The Blu-ray/DVD release is here and to celebrate this I thought I’d rewind the clock back to 2012 and take a look at this film’s wonderful predecessor – the movie that got the whole world talking about a short Indonesian actor an unknown Welsh director.
On the face of it the premise is incredibly simple, almost videogame-like; 20 elite cops are sent into a tower block to remove a brutal drug lord from the top floor. He’s in control of the whole building and it’s packed to the rafters with legions of his machete-happy henchmen. There’s not really any depth here but this is not a film that set out to match the levels of narrative structure seen in each year’s Oscar winners. Far from it; The Raid wants to strap you to your chair and beat the crap out of you, and in that regard it succeeds in every conceivable way.
Our main hero Rama (Iko Uwais) is the ultimate example of martial arts badassery. He may not be the tallest or most ripped chap on the planet, but there is no room this guy enters where he doesn’t emerge as the last man standing. His talent is almost paranormal and it was he and fellow cast member Yayan Ruhian (who plays the villainous and wild Mad Dog) who choreographed every fight scene. Their names were empty letters to Western audiences beforehand, but after this film (and repeated success with the sequel) they are now the undisputed champions of their craft, and the series is benefitting from it greatly.
The film is beautiful in its attempts to boggle your mind with its sheer creativity. It may not have a complex story or a collection of fleshed-out characters, but that’s not why it was made. Evans wanted to create something that rivaled anything Hollywood could throw at us and he both reached and exceeded those ambitions with The Raid and then took everything to a new level with The Raid 2.
It’s an incredible movie and one that has left more than an impression on Western studios and audiences. There’s an English remake on the way, but we all know already that there’s no chance it’ll top the original.