Out of the tower block and into the underworld, Gareth Evans’ Martial Arts sequel is anambitious crime saga, deadly action epic and worthy adversary to its predecessor.
After brawling his way through 30 floors of gangster infested high-rise you’d be forgiven for imagining that all super-cop, Rama (Iko Uwais) fancies is a sit down, a cuppa and a few episodes of Come Dine with Me.
In this follow up to the 2011 Indonesian eye-popper, director Gareth Evans goes better, faster, stronger as his hard-boiled protagonist is sent undercover to root out police corruption right at the heart of Jakarta’s criminal fraternity.
Gone is the bottle episode nature of the first film with its narrow corridors and tight stairwells. The Raid 2 is unleashed onto the city, a bigger sandbox in which to play – but its inhabitants don’t do it nicely.
They’re the type whose Saturday afternoon trip to B&Q is a chance to replenishing their arsenals. This new rogues gallery of psychos giving Rama a headache tops anything seen previously with ‘Hammer Girl’ and ‘Baseball Bat Man’ leading the charge.
Escalation is also seen in the drama as Evans dabbles with an elaborate structure of gangland warfare and which despite the unnecessarily thickened plot and character stable does a decent job of sustaining its pace and intensity.
In other words there’s plenty of punchy punchy balance amongst the talky/talky.
It’s upon this flailing of fists that the film is built upon, with a series of phenomenal sequences. A mud bathed prison riot, a stunning car chase and vicious one-on-one duels are all truly unique, all totally innovative and all beyond anything seen in cinema today.
Evans’ captures the action in clean, clinical fashion with his camera a character of his own. Totally fluid – it bends, weaves and twists through the carnage, detailing every sliced sinew and battered bone.
The fights are simply scintillating. Like a burst valve releasing a moment of breathless tension swiftly followed by unrelenting brutality. Palms sweat, eyes widen and mouths remain open as you watch the screen.
With this bloody, blistering and downright brilliant offering, Gareth Evans has forged his crown as the most dynamic action director working today.
Review by Tom Parry