Wednesday March 28th 2012 was the day that action movies changed for me. I experienced The Raid: Redemption for the first time ever, and it blew me away. It was an advanced screening with a packed audience. However, within five minutes the subtitles cut out and a lot of angry people filed out. My only thought process was this: "ARE YOU PEOPLE KIDDING ME?!?!? THIS IS ONE OF THE MOST AMAZING ACTION MOVIES I'VE EVER SEEN IN MY ENTIRELY LIFE. YOU PEOPLE ARE MISSING OUT ON SOMETHING GENUINELY AMAZING."
It didn't matter that the screening had no subtitles, because it fuelled my creativity. A lack of subtitles was in a way a cool experience, because it afforded me the opportunity and luxury to imagine what it is that they were saying during these scenes. It personalized the experience in an unintentional way. It’s kind of like reading a Choose Your Own Adventure book, but with a whole lot more f-bombs. When I finally did get a chance to watch it with subtitles though, it helped fill in a couple minor blanks here and there. Truth be told however is that my version of the story in my head wasn't actually that far off from the real film. It ended up on my Top 10 Films of 2012 out of 131 films I'd seen that year.
Hands down, the fight scenes are what made the movie, because they were seriously amazing. Honestly fight scenes really don’t get much better than that. Actually no fight scenes have been better than this in years. That’s just how great the movie was. Not only is every punch, kick, hit, stabbing or impalement totally ridiculous in how cool it is, but you can actually see them happen, EVERY SINGLE ONE. There is no ridiculous shaky-cam in any of these fights which made me SO HAPPY.
The camera may move around during the fight, but at no point is it ever too difficult to tell what’s going on. And not just that, but the guys doing the fight scenes are just amazing. Instead of looking cool only due to a lot of flashy quick editing, the camera stays on them for several seconds as they complete four or five totally sick moves. These guys are the real deal. The Raid: Redemption is without fail the one film at the top of my list whenever a friend asks about wanting to watch an action movie and they need a recommendation from me.
So you can understand my insane level of anticipation for the sequel. Then I watched it and it blew me away. Thank you Gareth Evans! Thank you for making a sequel that was bigger, badder and better than the original. Where the first film was contained to one apartment building from the bottom floor all the way to the top, The Raid 2 is broader in both scope and ambition. From the beginning bathroom fight, to the muddy prison fight to the two warehouse fights and the fantastic car chases, everything about the sequel is bigger, badder and better. The film continues the story of Rama going undercover and deep behind enemy lines to smoke out the entire criminal underworld one bad guy at a time. Or twenty.
Every fight, kick, punch, stab, bone-break or general blood-letting is seen and felt in all its stylishly violent glory with long takes and impressive camera sweeps around characters and in and out of moving cars at high velocities. The editing is wonderful in its meticulous back-and-forth flow of multiple characters. This is the world that Evans populates his characters in. The fighting is brutal, the characters are dark, brooding and infinitely complicated. The story is expansive and beautifully Machiavellian in nature. Every part of the sequel works, with not a single aspect of the film feeling flabby or unnecessary. The Raid 2 is a lean, mean fighting machine that truly needs to be seen to be experienced.
The Raid 3 is on its way? It better be, because I absolutely can't wait for it.
5 stars out of 5.