After the success of Merantau and The Raid: Redemption, Welsh director Gareth Evans brings another visually gripping and wince-inducing martial arts epic to the big screen. As with his first two movies, Evans continues to showcase pencak silat, the Indonesian sport, within a slick and unforgiving gang warfare narrative.
The film picks up where prequel The Raid left off. The three surviving officers of a police raid on a slum-based apartment block, run by a brutal crime lord, present the battered and scarce taped evidence that they have acquired after a wearisome battle. Displaying a ruthlessness that is to be continued throughout the film, the chief of police offers medical help to one, before executing the senior member and recruiting central character Rama into going undercover and entering the slums once again.
Before he can do so, however, he must serve time in a harsh Indonesian prison, in order to gain the respect and comradeship of one of the most feared crime families. After five years and two tightly-choreographed and gripping fight sequences, he is successful, finding himself planted terrifyingly in the midst of a hierarchy of psychopaths. His two sources of motivation are the knowledge that his wife and son are safe and his faith in God.
The story is heavy and intricate if one is unfamiliar with the prequel. However, Evans has created a polished and enticing version of the martial arts genre from which it is difficult to look away. Amid the riveting feats of physical strength stem, unsurprisingly, the themes of honour, duty and male pride, but the director never stays in one place for too long, and thus never allows the plot to lag. All in all it is an artfully absorbing piece that will appeal to many, not simply martial arts aficionados.
The Raid 2 is released nationwide on 11th April 2014.
Watch the trailer for The Raid 2 here: