<Review by: Sailesh Ghelani>
Directed by Gareth Evans. Starring Iko Uwais, Yahan Ruhian, Arifin Putra, Oka Antara, Tio Pakusadewo, Alex Abbad, Julie Estelle
The first Raid film (The Raid: Redemption) was an accomplishment in extreme hand-to-hand action choreography. This second one is just a big disappointment.
Such a difference it makes watching a film with the general audience. Especially when you’ve read what the critics have been saying. The sparse audience in the theatre for Raid 2 (on a Sunday evening) were bored stiff. One group of boys actually remarked: “Our Sunday was going so well till we came for this movie.” The group then left during the interval and did not return.
When a group of boys leaves what is ostensibly an action flick full of hand-to-hand combat that is the prime draw of the film, you know there’s something very wrong with the movie you’re watching. The Raid 2: Berandal (Thug) is an Indonesian film that’s been dubbed in English (well actually American) so that they can make a lot more money from the violence that was so popularly received in the first film. But that film had very little dialogue and was an extreme martial arts festival, wonderfully choreographed and expertly shot.
This new Raid film has plots and subplots that will elude you. Various gangs vying for, well, what gangs usually vie for. Still, there’s no seamlessness to the story. And the dialogue is so strangely highbrow in the dubbing that you wonder if a lot isn’t being missed out and lost in translation. The American accents don’t gel with the Indonesian faces at all. And who wrote the translation? Calling a brown paper bag an envelop makes the list of glaring errors. Another is when one of the gangs is disposing of a body and they decide to weigh it down with rocks before tossing the bag into the river. They toss and the bag simply floats like a buoy right at the top!
The action scenes are all generic and with the camera work looking like it has been done sitting in a MIG with a rocking chair for a pilot’s seat (very shaky cam) you’ll get a headache after the first half. Only one final scene between the lead character Rama (Iko Uwais, who looks terribly out of shape) and a baddie in the kitchen of a restaurant thrills. Otherwise there’s lots of blood but no ‘wow’ moves.
The character Uco ( Arifin Putra) who is the son of one of the gang lords stands out and gives you something interesting to sink your teeth into. But even his angst isn’t allowed to break free completely.
At two hours running time The Raid 2 seems more like three and the audience I watched it with sighed with relief when the credits finally rolled. Most of the people in line at the theatre were watching Blended this weekend. Ridiculous as it may seem, they watched the better and more fun film.