The Raid I & II
4.0Overall Score

Flying always calls for very easy entertainment and thus I am mostly inclined to just get an easy action flick. The problem seems to be that by now I have watched all of them…except this (kind of) hidden gem (series). The Raid was one of these films which have been on my to-watch (with a whopping 85% / 78% on Rotten Tomatoes) list for years until I finally decided to pull the trigger and boy I was in for a kick ass ride.

The Raid I

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Now normally a movie series of this quality would deserve to be reviewed separately but for efficiency reasons, I decided to go for one review this time around. It is really hard to describe what it was that fascinated me about The Raid series so much. For once, the movie manages to create this dark and claustrophobic atmosphere – kind of like a good video game. The simple plot is for a Malayan SWAT team to do a raid in a bad part of the city and get to the big wig who is locked down in his fortress – namely 30 story building which is completely controlled by his army who is bunking down in the top floor of the building. Of course there is somewhat of a twist but that twist in itself is only partly relevant. To a certain extent The Raid very much reminded me of the good old John Woo Hong Kong movies of the 80s and early 90s before he was “gentrified” and followed the Hollywood calling which basically allowed him to do 1.5 good movies (Face/Off and Broken Arrow) before robbing him of all his magic with the terribles like MI:2 or Paycheck (gosh, I get angry when I am writing these titles down already). But apparently, there is hope out there with such talented directors such Gareth Evans. Throughout the entire film, he creates these amazing action set pieces in a gripping and violent atmosphere. And at no point, I got even remotely bored and with my attention span (especially on airplane), this is a pretty big achievement. The Raid combines elements of martial arts (without making it too over-the-top), Tarantino’esque violence (minus the sarcasm) and the already mentioned beautifully shot action set pieces (which shine through their simplicity and do not need any CGI to be effective). Bravo, Gareth…

The Raid II

After that bomb, it basically was a no-brainer to rent The Raid II…and even though presumably the rule of sequels applies to movies outside of Hollywood as well, Gareth Edwards was able to stay true to his cause and create a journey which had more depth but was equally awesome. The plot this time around is basically a follow-up to the first movie. The protagonist Rama has to go undercover to protect his family and bring people to justice who have harmed people close to him. Whereas in the first part, Rama was more just thrown into a shitty situation and he had to just try and somehow fight his way out, this time around it is a little bit more of a choice. And the movie takes some more time to show the character’s inner conflicts and struggle with what he is doing. Luckily, the director does not go overboard with this and tries to turn an action spectacle into a character drama…nevertheless it does portray a lot more character depth than the first one. The difference this time around is that there are multiple different characters and situations, Rama has to juggle to get to his goal. The darkness of the movie atmosphere is just as …. well you know dark … as part I and the set pieces are just as awesome. The brutality and gore is even more graphic but that does neither support nor bother the movie’s quality. The Raid II is yet another fantastic foreign action movie which was even a little better than part I – but probably only because the first one was more good by surprise whereas part II appears to be more of a planned spectacle. And boy that it is…

If you are in for some awesome action, this is most definitely worth the $ 4.99 on iTunes.

The Good

  • Awesome action set-pieces which reminded me of the good ol’ John Woo times in the 80s
  • Great cinematography creating a great mood all without the need of any CGI
  • Gripping, violent and awesome

The Bad

  • It isn’t a “masterpiece” but it never aspires to be and that makes it great
  • Nothing else really, I was very much entertained


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  • Running time: 101 / 150 min
  • Genre: Action
  • Year: 2011 / 2014

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