One of my favourite films from 2014 was a sequel to an Indonesian Martial Arts/Action Movie released some years previously. The sequel was known as The Raid 2. Now at the time I had heard of The Raid, but hadn’t seen it, but when an opportunity arose to go see The Raid 2, I saw it, and was blown away by it! It’s fight scenes were something to behold, and you didn’t have long to wait to see how intense they were. When I saw the fight in the prison yard, and witnessed what happened to one character’s leg, being twisted at the cap, I instantly knew what kind of film this was going to be. It wasn’t all fights; there were a lot of well choreographed and intense fights, but there was also an incredible car chase sequence,, some mafia based politics as well as family based drama scenes too.
I received a DVD copy of the first film for my birthday soon after and I found it very similar to the first film, but it’s plot and setting was very different. While the sequel was a large gang/mafia based film taking place all over Jakarta, the first film was more grounded to one location: a large block of flats.
When I first saw The Raid; I enjoyed it, but when I watched it a second time several months later; I fell in love with it! It’s such an awesome film. It has a great introduction and sets up the movie well: A group of police officers raid a large block of flats, which for the most part is filled floor by floor; room by room with criminals. The place has been a hard one to crack, but now a proper attempt is going to be made on bringing the whole place down! That’s the basic set-up for this rough ride action thriller. But, at the same time, there is a deep family drama in it too as the main character; Rama (Iko Uwais) is one of the police officers, and has a wife who is expecting their first child. In the flats however is his brother Andi (Donny Alamsyah), who he intends to find and bring home! So, not only do we have an Action Setting, but also a personal reason to get attached to the characters and stay with them.
Things though get tricky for our hero, as Andi is one of the Lieutenants for the crime lord Tama (Ray Sahetapy) who owns the block of flats and commands his criminal enterprise from that location. Also, Tama has another Lieutenant, simply called Mad Dog (Yayan Ruhian), who is a ferocious fighter. The scene is therefore set, and as things get going, they go well for Jakarta’s finest. But of course, pretty soon it all falls apart as the police officers are soon assaulted by the residents of the block of flats, and as a result need to find a way either to get their target, or escape, preferably unharmed.
I absolutely adore this film. The intense fights create a brand new and pretty unique experience. The fights happen either with group vs group, usually earlier on as the police use their weapons to fight back the hostile residents; or, as the end of the film approaches, one on one as numbers between the two sides have whittled down to just a few people. The family drama; as Rama and Andi eventually meet causes conflict and consequences for both of them. Then the gangland politics make things harder to conclude as things are not as black and white as they first seem. All of which comes down to a very difficult conclusion, but a conclusion is what you get. It has an opening for a potential sequel, but, the ending suffices enough, that if there hadn’t been one, you would still have had a satisfying conclusion.
This is a film I pretty much recommend to everyone and anyone I think will enjoy it as much as I did. The fights are it USP (Unique Selling Point) and stand out well, because they are fun to watch and behold, and while they can be long, they do not get boring as they continue to do different things as the situation gets harder for the combatants. But again it’s not all about fights, there is a lot of other things too. The opening scenes of getting prepared and the eventual point where things go horribly wrong are brilliant scenes to watch over and over again. The family drama gives purpose for the main character, and the soundtrack is Fantastic!
I would point out though that this film isn’t for everyone, and where there is action, there is also violence!. But for those who are not too bad with that, or even wanting a bit more than the mainstream is providing, this film is for you!