The Raid 2 was one of my favorite theater experiences of 2014, which is saying a lot considering Captain America: The Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy, two of the best Marvel movies, also came out that year. But Gareth Evans’ followup to his all-time great action movie The Raid is a beast that I haven’t revisited in full in many years.
Over the years, I have watched all those incredibly choreographed fight sequences like a diehard sports fan revisiting highlights from the big championship game, but never in full and without the proper context. When I found out that The Raid 2 was one of the new movies on Netflix in January 2023, I thought to myself: “What better time than now.” After watching it, I can say is that it’s still as great as it was nearly a decade ago. Here are some of my thoughts…
If The Raid Is A Sprint Then The Raid 2 Is A Marathon
The Raid had a rather simple yet effective premise and execution: a crime lord is holed-up in the penthouse of a run-down apartment building and a highly-trained police force attempts to arrest him. Sure, there are some plot twists and major revelations in the final portion of the movie, but it’s very much a “Point A to Point B” sprint to the top.
The Raid 2, however, is a completely different beast, and is something akin to The Godfather Part II when it comes to its scope, scale, and story. Picking up right after the events of the first movie, Rama (Iko Uwais) is tasked with going undercover (adopting the name Yuda) to weed out corrupt cops in Jakarta’s criminal underworld. Instead of one setting, Gareth Evans takes the viewer to locations all over the Indonesian city, including subway trains, nightclubs, and a restaurant with blood-red carpet, and so much more.
Bejo Is Such A Great Villain
There are a lot of great new characters introduced in The Raid 2, but few are as captivating as Bejo (Alex Abbad), the ambitious Jakarta criminal who orchestrates the takeover of one of the city’s top two crime syndicates. I mean, everything about this guy is great – he has a really freaking cool restaurant that serves as his lair, he walks with a limp and cane that adds mystery to his character, and he has three S-tier assassins on his payroll on top of the legions of foot soldiers willing to do anything for him.
Introduced in the opening scene in which he kills Rama’s brother and hero from the first movie, Andi (Donny Alamsyah), Bejo slowly and methodically takes out everyone that stands between him and complete control of the Jakarta crime world. And best of all, he never raises his voice or even loses his cool throughout all the madness and bloodshed.
Hammer Girl, Baseball Bat Man And The Assassin Are Straight Up Out Of A Video Game
The Raid 2 has nothing to do with the Metal Gear Solid video game franchise, but the structure of Bejo’s criminal enterprise very much feels like it’s set in the world created by Hideo Kojima. This is most evident with the three top assassins under his employ, including Hammer Girl (Julie Estelle), Baseball Bat Man (Very Tri Yulisman), and the character simply known as The Assassin (Cecep Arif Rahman), all of which have unique identities and weapons of choice.
As their names suggest, the sister-brother combo of Hammer Girl and Baseball Bat Boy use their signature weapons to absolutely kill so many people (so many) in visually-impressive fight sequences that are up there with the best the action genre has to offer. And The Assassin, the silent killer who uses karambits (curved knives) to rip flesh, tendons, and arteries, is the prototypical late-stage boss standing between the hero and the big bad. It’s just a shame all three die by their own weapon when meeting Rama.
Despite Its Short Length, Prakoso’s Subplot Is An Unforgettable And Heartbreaking Addition To The Movie
John Wick 3’s Yayan Ruhian gave a scene-stealing performance in The Raid as Mad Dog. Even though the character died in the first movie, Gareth Evans brought the actor back for a much different role in The Raid 2, with his heartbreaking portrayal of Prakoso, a skilled and talented hitman who meets and untimely death in Uco’s (Arifin Putra) coup of his father’s enterprise.
Although he’s only in two scenes about midway through the movie, these happen to be two of the best moments in the movie. First, a painful meeting with his ex-wife about not getting to see his son and then one of the best fight scenes in the movie. Betrayed by the son of his boss before having his throat slit in a snow-covered alley is heartbreaking, but does a tremendous job of setting up the second, and more action-packed second half of the film.
The Raid 2 Has One Of The All-Time Great Car Chase Sequences
After learning of Uco’s double-cross and nearly being killed by Bejo’s assassins, Rama is placed in a car to be taken to a shallow grave on the outskirts of town. But just once it looks as if the hero has been defeated, Uco’s father’s right-hand man, Eka (Oka Antara), who is also undercover, comes to his rescue.
What makes The Raid 2’s car chase so great is the way in which the movie shows you a way out for Rama (Eka’s car) but places so many obstacles in the way. Rama has to defeat four henchmen in his car, break through the window, and jump into another moving car, all while avoiding crooked cops, gangsters, and regular traffic. And did I mention this scene is bloody as all hell, with bodies being ripped apart and thrown around like ragdolls before it comes screeching to a halt?
The Raid 2 Has One Badass Fight After Another, But Rama Vs The Assassin In The Kitchen Reigns Supreme
I initially set out to include a list of The Raid 2’s fight sequences, ranked, but decided to save us a lot of time and point out that the kitchen fight between Rama and The Assassin is the best the movie has to offer, and is perhaps the best of its kind of the past 10 years. All the other combat sequences throughout the movie are loud and chaotic, but the kitchen fight at Bejo’s restaurant is cool and calm as well as incredibly violent.
These two equally-matched characters treat the early goings of the duel with a level of respect and restraint not seen elsewhere in the movie, starting and stopping as if they’re keeping score in a competition. But that goes out the window when they throw one another into a wine cellar, over prep stations, and everywhere else in the commercial kitchen.
Other Random Thoughts:
I also had a handful of other random thoughts after rewatching The Raid 2, including mentions of Iko Uwais and Yayan Ruhian’s appearance in Star Wars: The Force Awakens.
- I really, really hope The Raid 3 comes to fruition one day
- The Raid 2 could be an hour longer and I would still never get tired of it
- Iko Uwais and Yayan Ruhian deserved more in Star Wars: The Force Awakens
- Now I need to go back and watch Merantau
You can watch The Raid 2 streaming with a Netflix Subscription, which also gives you access to thousands of other great movies. At some point in the future, Gareth Evans’ crime thriller Havoc starring Tom Hardy will call the platform home.
Stream The Raid 2 on Netflix. (opens in new tab)