The Raid 2 (2014)

raid2_1The Raid 2 [Serbuan maut 2] (2014)
AKA The Raid 2: Berandal, The Raid: Retaliation

Starring Iko Uwais, Arifin Putra, Oka Antara, Tio Pakusadewo, Julie Estelle, Ryuhei Matsuda, Kenichi Endo, Kazuki Kitamura, Cecep Arif Rahman, Cok Simbara, Yayan Ruhian, Very Tri Yulisman

Directed by Gareth Evans

Expectations: Super high. It’s The Raid 2, c’mon now!

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Nope, not as good as the first. And I wasn’t even as super head-over-heels about The Raid as everyone else seemed to be. I thought it was awesome, don’t get me wrong, but a re-watch just a few days ago confirmed to me that it’s a film I will always appreciate more than love. This relates directly to how brutal and realistic the choreography is — which is also why the film is so notable and unique — so for me The Raid 2 wasn’t as good as the first because it embraces that brutal, realistic choreography and goes even further. Is that the best logic to judge the film on? No, of course not, but my brain just has a hard time extracting the same gleeful joy from this type of martial arts film compared to something with a lighter tone. While The Raid still felt somewhat connected to the martial arts films that inspired it, the action in The Raid 2 feels different.

Since I love auteur theory, I suppose we can say that if Gareth Evans’ Merantau was a love letter to Hong Kong martial arts films and specifically Jackie Chan’s, The Raid was Evans, Iko Uwais and Yayan Ruhian finding their own stride based on what worked in Merantau. But to me The Raid 2 seems to be built only on the shoulders of The Raid, so your enjoyment of its action will stem directly from how much enjoyment you got out of the brutal, bone-crunching fights in The Raid. Personally, Merantau remains my favorite of their films, but with that said I can’t deny that The Raid 2 — specifically one fight towards the end — sets a new bar for martial arts film battles. The kitchen fight contains some of the most intense, brutal and incredibly choreographed martial arts ever projected onto the silver screen.

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The Raid (2012)

The Raid [Serbuan maut] (2012)
AKA The Raid: Redemption

Starring Iko Uwais, Joe Taslim, Doni Alamsyah, Yayan Ruhian, Pierre Gruno, Ray Sahetapy, Tegar Satrya, Iang Darmawan

Directed by Gareth Evans

Expectations: Super high. So stoked for this movie.


Before I get into more specific feelings about The Raid, I want to say that I really enjoyed it overall. I liked Merantau a lot more, but I think The Raid is the better made film hands down. With that out of the way, let’s get down to business. Iko Uwais and Gareth Evans, hot off of the success of Merantau, are back to bring you a bone-crunching, kick-ass martial arts film. If you went into The Raid cold, you’d never guess this was the case from the opening half hour or so, as there is very little, if any, martial arts at all during this time. It’s all police squads and machine gun fire, and while automatic weapons are always pretty damn exciting and entertaining, I was there for the punchy-punch.

There’s not a whole lot of story being told in The Raid, but that’s to be expected. The basics of The Raid are this: There’s an evil fucker on the top floor of a fifteen-story building. He must be taken down, along with all the other evil fuckers that he has rented rooms to in the building, not to mention his two evil henchmen fuckers. As one of the cops says during the opening scene, “Let’s clean up this city.”

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Merantau (2009)

Merantau (2009)
AKA Merantau Warrior

Starring Iko Uwais, Sisca Jessica, Christine Hakim, Mads Koudal, Yusuf Aulia, Alex Abbad, Yayan Ruhian, Laurent Buson, Doni Alamsyah, Ratna Galih

Directed by Gareth Evans

Expectations: High. Heard some great things. Also heard it’s bad. We’ll see.


Told simply, Merantau is one of the most impressive martial arts débuts of all time. Iko Uwais, a practitioner of Silat since childhood, busts out of nowhere in his first film and literally annihilates the competition. He’s no joke, and he’s easily the next big thing in martial arts cinema. Watching Merantau gave me the same feeling I had when I first saw Tony Jaa work his magic on-screen in Ong Bak. Uwais comes off as a combination of Jaa’s hard-hitting brutality and Jackie Chan’s playful, “grab your surroundings as weapons” style, and it’s a true joy to watch. He’s doesn’t seem as athletic as Jaa, or as inventive as Chan, but he is a great amalgamation of the two distinctly different styles. There’s nothing in the world like watching a master martial artist at work, and Merantau is filled with stunning, thrilling examples of just that.

The merantau referenced in the film’s title refers to our hero’s journey from his small village to Jakarta. It’s his merantau, or the time in his life when he must leave his village in search of enriching experiences and success. It is Yuda’s dream to teach Silat to others and he hopes to do just that when he hits Jakarta. He does teach some baddies just how badass and effective a martial art Silat is along the way, but somehow I don’t think that’s what he had in mind. In any case, not much info is given on what the merantau entails before it begins in the film, and not much is needed. From the opening scenes it is clear that it is a perilous journey, and one fraught with danger and intrigue. It is a journey that every man in the village must endure, and we as the viewer will undertake it without prior knowledge, the same as Yuda.

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