What To Watch At Midnight: The Raid 2

Most movie recommendations should come with caveats, “if/then” statements that let people know immediately if they are out. Some are simple like:

“If you like sic-fi you should check out Guardians of the Galaxy.”

Some can be comparative:

“If you like Inglorious Basterds you’re gonna like Django Unchained.”

And in that case really obvious.

And sometimes you can be more overtly exclusionary:

“If you don’t like profanity don’t see The Wolf of Wall Street.”

So what caveats do you add to a recommendation of The Raid 2? Something like this:

“If you like graphically violent martial arts movies with subtitles that run 2 1/2 hours long and has a plot that holds up just enough that’s also a gangster movie and is filmed throughout the slums of Jakarta and shows a number of people beaten to death with hammers, baseball bats and faces to cooking surfaces (I mentioned the graphically violent, right?) that even has a shootout in a disgusting porn studio, then boy, have I got the movie for you.”

Now, for me, my response to that sentence would be “I’m in!” But I know that isn’t true for everyone. Of course, the better caveat would probably be this:

“If you saw The Raid you’ll probably like The Raid 2.”

The Raid became something of a sensation two years ago. The story of an Indonesian SWAT team that stages a raid on an apartment building that is controlled by a drug dealer and find they literally have to fight their way up each floor of the building to get to the man was as filled with action as any movie I have ever seen. It played at a few festivals (Fantastic Fest or SXSW, I can’t recall which) and began getting buzz and ended the year on more than a few Top 10 lists (including my own).

The truth is, my second caveat may not actually be true. The first Raid was action packed and certainly much more graphically brutal than most martial arts films (in truth, neither film should really be in that category, they are action films with a LOT of fighting, but the fighting isn’t about showing off how well an actor or stunt double can do a spinning side-kick, it is about fighting to survive) but The Raid 2 ups the ante. The film starts right after the first movie ends …

SPOILERS AHEAD!!!!!!!

… where the lone survivor of the original raid, a rookie cop named Rama (played by Iko Uwais) is told that basically the whole road was for nothing. They use corruption as an excuse to put Rama immediately into an under cover operation (because until they find out who is behind neither Rama or his family will ever be safe!), first in a prison and then in the Indonesian mob. But none of that really matters. It isn’t that the plot is poorly set-up its just that plot is not the reason ANYONE watches this movie. You are watching this movie to see Alice “Hammer Girl” (that is the characters official title) take out a train full of mobsters with, you guessed it, just two hammers (its like the scene from Oldboy on steroids). You watch this movie to watch Baseball Bat Man (again, official title) ask for his ball back and to see what he does when people say no. You watch this movie for a non-stop bombardments of hand to hand combat, shootouts, car chases, mob riots and assassinations. And it is all awesome …

… if you are into, well, you get the idea.