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Review The Raid 2 (2014)

genre: action, martial arts

I think there is a typo on this poster. It should be one of the worst action movies ever made!

This review is very likely to get people upset. But that is not my fault. Blame Gareth Evans for making such a bad movie. There I said it. This sequel to The Raid is bad. After 4 attempts of trying to watch this movie I thought I give it another shot and finally the fifth time I succeeded. And let me tell you that it was not easy to do. Because this movie contains some cringe worthy scenes that show how incompetent Gareth Evans is as a director and film maker. 

The original in my opinion was no masterpiece as it was made out to be but it was a good action film. The huge success of The Raid naturally lead to a sequel. And obviously all the praise and hype went to Gareth Evans' head because here he fumbles and stumbles completely failing to impress yet again. You would think that one would improve his craft as he goes on. Gareth Evans seems to go downhill. One big example. Shaky cam in martial arts movies is a big no no. You only do that when the people who are on screen aren't skilled as fighter and make it look like they are. Here it is clear that most of them are skilled martial artists so not necessary at all. Speaking of the fight scenes. A lot of them were drawn out by cutting away to unrelated scenes that took you away from the action. That is like a rookie mistake. Never ever take someone away from the action when you are in the middle of it. You can only get away with that when a scene adds emotion to that action. Here it literally took you out of a tense action scene and then you had to sit through torturous minutes of pointless dialogue to then eventually bring you back to the action and continue where they left off. By that time you simply did not care any more. And Gareth Evans keeps doing this. Every time when he builds up momentum he cuts away and breaks it down so that not only do you lose the thrills at one point you stop caring. The fighting itself in a few scenes were really good. But for the most part it was tedious and boring. Breaking bones, crushing heads and a lot of stabbing where blood fills up the screen does get tiresome real quick. (I can't believe I just said that, because I do like it when it happens in a zombie movie). Thing is, in a martial arts movie the focus should be on the arts, the styles and the skills of a fighter. All this realism nonsense is something that works sometimes. In this it does not. Martial artists can do things most people could only dream of doing. It is one of the main reasons why we want to watch them. If you limit their talents into using knives and baseball bats their talent does not come cross as much. Since a lot of people can use knives and baseball bats. If you make films like this you should put their skills on display and let them dazzle us. 

Do I really need to discuss the story? I don't want to but here goes. Somehow Gareth Evans thinks he can make a slick gangster drama without having the skill and knowledge to do so. (Man he really is butchering Gareth Evans. That is what you get if you think you are the second coming of Christ. If you deserve it I will be among the first to give you praise, if not I will be the first to put you down on Earth where you belong. Not an easy job, but someone's got to do it.) Our main character Rama has to go undercover to expose the criminal activities of this gang bla bla bla. Like this premise has not been done to death already. Look, I appreciate a good gangster flick. And I don't know that much about the Indonesian underworld. Why couldn't Gareth Evans do some real research and add some true depictions of criminal activities and events in the film. I would have respected him more if he at least attempted to. But no, of course that would take a lot of work and effort on his part. Instead we are being served cliché after cliché that already after the first fifteen minutes were taking a heavy toll on me (hence the five attempts). There was no dramatic impact from the characters at all. Even the big one where events begin to escalate hardly affects you. Another mistake from Gareth Evans. I can't blame the actors because they really try their best. But the direction is poor and very lacking. You can't have any impact if you barely know the characters. Sure some of them stand out. But there is hardly any personality about them. A director needs to make you care about the characters or dislike them because they are so deliciously evil. Here all of that is lacking that makes you wish the action would start already. The 150 minutes easily could have been cut down to ninety and it would have been a better film for it.

In my opinion a real waste of time. This is an action movie that lacks soul and heart. Instead it is violent and gory that gets tedious real quick. The supposedly complex tale is as simple as it gets and fails to impress completely. Realize that The Raid 2 is more focused on narrative and actually hurts the enjoyment of the action. There you have it. 

Also read review The Raid: Redemption:

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