The Raid 2 Review

By Jose Gallegos


The Raid 2 (2014)

Director: Gareth Evans
Country: Indonesia
Genre: Action | Crime | Thriller
Official Site: Here

Editor’s Notes: The Raid 2 opens in limited release tomorrow, March 28th.

Have you ever been hit by a bus? No, I can’t say that I have either, but I feel that my experience with Gareth EvansThe Raid 2: Berandal is similar in many ways. It is a two hour and twenty minute visual attack, one that many of Evans’ masochistic fans (like myself) will thoroughly enjoy (even if you wince a couple of times).

Following the events of The Raid: Redemption, Rama (Iko Uwais) – one of the few survivors from the first film – is forced to go undercover into the Indonesian criminal world in order to protect his wife and child from harm. Unfortunately for Rama, his undercover stint begins with years of daily prison beatings and ends with complete chaos. Along this hyperviolent journey, he meets some of the most iconic assassins you will see, including a brother-sister team who kill their victims with a baseball bat and claw hammers, respectively.

It is a two hour and twenty minute visual attack, one that many of Evans’ masochistic fans (like myself) will thoroughly enjoy (even if you wince a couple of times).

I must admit that I have never been one for action films, mainly because of the overwhelming machismo factor. The Raid 2 and its predecessor are exceptions because they relish in their excessive violence and action, and The Raid 2 even adds a feminine element into the mix. Many contemporary action films half-heartedly use action and violence in order to sell 3-D/Imax tickets and to attain a “summer blockbuster” status, but The Raid 2 knows who watches these films and uses its violence to please its devoted fanbase.


Evans choreographs his scenes similar to the animation in Adult Swim’s “Superjail!”: the camera follows one character, then follows the person who kills that character, then follows the person who kills the killer, and so on and so forth, ad infinitum. Without this frenetic energy, The Raid 2 would be an empty, derivative shell of its predecessor.

Beyond this wandering and frenetic camera, Evans keeps this sequel fresh and interesting by using humor as breathing room for the audience. The films’ runtime is not solely spent on stabbing, kicking, punching, and bone-crunching, but Evans also adds comedic sight gags to lighten the mood. For instance, whenever the “Baseball Bat Man” (Very Tri Yulisman) attacks his victims with a baseball, he asks the surviving victims to give him the ball back. These moments allow us to not only digest all that is happening on the screen, but to also prepare for the violent scenes that will inevitably follow.

Without this frenetic energy, The Raid 2 would be an empty, derivative shell of its predecessor.

I can say with certainty that the best element of the film was definitely “Hammer Girl” (Julie Estelle), a deaf-mute assassin who has the mentality of a child. In one of her two scenes (yes, she makes the most out of being in two scenes), she is dragged by her brother to go kill Rama, but stumbles back in the frame in order to grab her hammers, much like a child who runs back to grab its toy. Evans crafted an intriguing backstory for her and her brother (involving revenge against an abusive father), but none of that is necessary for the audience to know. Estelle is iconic, much Gogo in Kill Bill Vol. I, because she blends that internalized childish nature with excessive violence and gore.

The only fault that I can note in the film (along with the overly convoluted plot, but I doubt that many are caring about the plot in an action movie) is that the first film is much more pleasurable, primarily due to its video game-like interactivity. Much like the first Resident Evil film, or even Last Year At Marienbad, the closed off setting of The Raid: Redemption allows viewers to obtain pleasure by watching the film as though they were playing a game (you explore the location, try to rid yourself of your enemies, and look for tokens that will help you tend to your wounds/help advance the game forward). The Raid 2 may have an Indonesian flavor by allowing viewers to explore a variety of settings (from the corrupt streets and the grimy prisons, to the luxurious hotels and the well-arranged restaurants), but it still falls a few notches below the magic of the original.

In spite of this minor flaw, the film is still enjoyable. If you’re squeamish and can’t stand the sound of hearing bones breaking, I would recommend avoiding this film at all cost. But if you enjoy the sound of bones breaking and want to watch a protagonist kick ass for nearly two and a half hours, then this is the film for you.

80/100 ~ GREAT. The Raid 2 may not be as brilliant as its predecessor, but it will still chain you to your seat, smack you a couple of times, and have you rooting for its protagonist (and momentarily for its antagonists).
I'm an aspiring filmmaker from Los Angeles. Recently, I graduated from USC with my Bachelors in Cinema/Television Production and French (yes, I'm a "phile" for all things "cine" and "franco"). I will continue my academic career by pursuing a Masters in Film Studies at UCLA (feel free to call me a traitor).
  • Chris D. Misch

    Frenetic energy is good enough for me. The original didn’t much more than that either. In fact, as much as I enjoyed The Raid, as soon as the action stopped and someone opened their mouth, the film died. Luckily it wasn’t long until the action picked back up again.