Looking for good sequels? Finbar Oliver shows us one of his absolute favourite films of all time.
I once thought that in the vast realm of action films, none could unseat The Raid: Redemption from atop its lofty throne. How wrong I was – it was the 2014 sequel, The Raid 2 that had the glory of usurping the originals crown. Once again, we follow Rama (Iko Uwais), a police recruit, survivor of the events of the first film, and certified Hardest Man in the World. Tasked with undercover work and sent to jail to infiltrate the Indonesian criminal underworld, it’s not long before he gets back to what he does best: kicking seven shades out of every criminal in Jakarta.
Only tangentially related to the events of the original, The Raid cranks up the velocity of the action sequences that defined the first. Iko Uwais – a real-life practitioner of the Indonesian martial art style silat – churns out showstoppers from the first to last scenes. And that is perhaps the most surprising about The Raid 2; the distance between those moments clocks in at a formidable two and a half hours, yet it drags less than the first. Remarkably, you sit wondering where the time vanished to, and how your arse doesn’t feel remotely as numb as it should.
Whereas the first Raid had all the events unfolding in real time, the chronological expansion of the sequel works to its advantage, giving more wiggle-room for character development
There are plenty of changes from the first, but fans need not worry. Casting aside the claustrophobic setting, the action opens up from the tower block to the surrounding city. Initially I wasn’t sold; the survival dynamic of the first gave it an air of nastiness, but the larger scale gives potential for set pieces (such as car chases) and more space for minor characters and subplots. Additionally, whereas the first Raid had all the events unfolding in real time, the chronological expansion of the sequel works to its advantage, giving more wiggle-room for character development. And it’s certainly needed; for a film in which fight scenes are ten-a-penny, there’s a surprising depth to the narrative, with Rama’s transition through the underworld playing out with an Internal Affairs-esque tension.
All in all, The Raid 2 transcends what you’d want in a sequel to the breath-taking original. The action is turned up to anti-social levels, the pace remains sky-high and, most importantly, it brings a new narrative element to the burgeoning franchise that opens up the Raid world in a highly complementary way. Action fans need look no further for their next hit.