The Raid 2 on DVD and Blu-ray

Sunday, 17 August 2014 23:00 Written by 

The Raid 2 - out on DVD and Blu-ray2011’s “The Raid” caught a lot of action fans off guard, just as “The Matrix” had in 1999. Equally, a comparison of “The Matrix” and “The Matrix Reloaded” is pertinent here because “Raid” director Gareth Evans had to take the seed of his success and let it blossom, keeping the winning formula fresh. Thus, whilst the first movie was a claustrophobic, non-stop battle for survival, the sequel is a more complex gangster flick with some equally audacious fight scenes.

The understated Iko Uwais returns as Rama, a policeman who goes undercover and joins an Indonesian gang to ultimately unearth deep-rooted police corruption. His mission initially means a few years locked up in a dangerous prison to win the confidence of a gang lord's son, whilst inter-gang warfare between the Indonesians and Japanese threatens to decimate the prison population on a regular basis.

At a lengthy two and a half hours, “The Raid 2” does not rush its story and indeed feels like it has let its foot a little too far off the gas pedal in the early scenes. On the plus side, Evans teases the audience and lets them slowly come to the boil before exploding into the first fight sequence. From there on, the drama and combat alternate with effective regularity.

Echoing the central themes of many Chinese and Japanese gang movies, we get the arrogant young understudy (Arifin Putra) who becomes increasingly resentful of his father's laid-back and measured approach to leadership, the undercover cop who cannot avoid getting his hands dirty and has to make some tough moral decisions, and more than enough betrayal to ensure the fists keep flying and the guns keep blasting.

The action scenes are much more varied than in the first instalment, and they typically involve many more combatants. Stand out moments include characters called 'Hammer Girl' (Julie Estelle) and 'Baseball Bat Man' (Very Tri Yulisman) doing very unpleasant things to some unfortunate, low-ranking hoods, and a thrilling car chase combined with a closely-confined fight (again recalling "The Matrix Reloaded"). The first film's star attraction (other than Rama), Yayan Ruhian also returns in a different but equally impressive role as a ragged enforcer who deals some serious but elegant punishment.

There is a lot more gunplay and knife fighting this time around, and the violence has been ramped up to include even more graphic and wince-inducing action. I found some of it a little too much, and occasionally felt that the movie struggled to square its grittily realistic visuals with the tenacity of some characters who keep on punching despite some horrendous damage having been done to their bodies. The line between hard-boiled fighter and superhero is difficult to judge but they get it right here most of the time.

Sometimes the acting and plotting is an afterthought in this genre but not this time. Uwais fills out his character and makes him more human and flawed than in part one. Putra is excellent as the impetuous gangland understudy, and Alex Abbad oozes sleazy menace as Bejo, a gangster who wants to outwit everyone and take over.

Part of me wishes that the director had simply produced more of the same, but another part of me is happy that he went for a world-building, more expansive approach as it has given him a much broader palette to work with. The end result is certainly an exciting, draining and memorable new entry into the genre and it cements Evans' position as one of the best action directors around.

Special features only found on the Blu-ray disc include:

  • English Language Version
  • Feature commentary with Director Gareth Evans
  • The Next Chapter: Shooting a Sequel
  • Ready for a Fight: On Location (Blu-ray only)
  • Deleted Scene – Gang War (Blu-ray only)
  • Cinefamily Foundation Q&A with Gareth Evans, Iko Uwais and Joe Trapanese (Blu-ray only)
  • Violent Ballet: Behind the Choreography (Blu-ray only)

As with most making-of features attached to martial arts films, there is lots of footage of actors and stunt people practising pulverising each other on crash mats before the serious business of shooting begins! The Blu-ray version is crisp and captures the action in spectacular detail, with the extra bonus content over the DVD version sealing the deal.

“The Raid 2” (2014) is out now on DVD and Blu-ray, courtesy of Entertainment One. The main feature has a running time of 150 minutes approx, carries an ‘18’ certificate and retails for £17.99 on DVD and £19.99 on Blu-ray, or less from www.culttvstore.com

 

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