Welsh born director Gareth Evans has done it again! This time around he’s got a more cash to flash. The inflated budget is reflected in the films bigger locations, scenes and action. Mr Evans initially won me over with The Raid. A gritty film that had your nose breath misting up the TV screen waiting to see what happened next. He also formally introduced to the world Iko Uwais who plays our hero, Rama. Iko has interpreted his traditional martial arts style of Pencak Silat to the big screen in a unique and brutal way. With only a $1.1 mil budget, Gareth rivaled $45 mil Judge Dredd. They both had a similar story line but for me, Dredd only just won out as it was in English and had some Sci Fi and great high end effects despite not having martial arts in it.
The Raid 2 with its $4.5 mil budget is slightly more complicated than its predecessor in story but no less brutal. It follows the rookie cop, Rama, who didn’t make many friends in the underworld by wiping out the local minions in ‘The Raid.’ Crime boss Bangun, played by Tio Pakusodewo gets a little agitated and soon Rama’s family becomes endangered. There appears to be only one way to protect his loved ones and that is to go undercover into the organisation and get up close and personal. Rama does just that but latching on to Banguns son, the charismatic and sadistic, Uco, played by Arifin Putra.
The father and son dynamic follows an almost Shakespearean path and is very interesting to watch. Iko graciously takes a back seat through a few scenes,when playing the right hand man but this only serves to make him shine more when brought to the forefront. Gareth (who not only has an awesome name) also wrote The Raid 2. Now with only a couple of international films under his belt, he is already showing a particular film style. Raid 2 includes plenty of brutal executions as well as lots of heads getting smashed into the wall or used to turn off the light. There is a fight scene in the prison toilets, that by itself doesn’t sound impressive. However, just by watching it, the adrenaline mounts up along with the body count. The prison yard mud brawl is shank-tastic as well as the fight in the porno warehouse, where before the fight even starts gets horrifyingly assaulted in the background!
These new larger than life fight scenes have also brought new characters, such as Prakoso, or, the man that I like to call ‘Machete Hobo’ played by Yayan Ruhian. You get to see a bit of back character to this remorseless killer and find that he is quite a tragic figure. Yayan also played Mad Dog in the first Raid. Then there is Alicia, aka, ‘Hammer Girl’ played by Julie Estelle . I don’t want to give away too many spoilers but you don’t see her using her hammer to put up any shelves. Her partner in extensive crime is baseball bat man, played by Very Tri Yulisman. His weapon of choice? Well, its not a hairdryer. The Raid 2 isn’t a polished film and that is its charm, however, it is rammed with quality story, quality acting and quality martial arts.