Rama, an undercover cop, infiltrates Jakarta’s criminal underworld through Uco, the impulsive son of crime boss Bangun. Bangun runs the city beside the Japanese Goto clan, but the peace is shattered when wild card gangster Bejo arrives. And while Rama launches a one-man war on crime, Uco hungrily eyes the top spot.
No mere plot synopsis can do justice to The Raid 2. Gareth Evans directs like he is the offspring of John Woo and Stanley Kubrick, spraying crime carnage on the big screen, but with a directorial rigour that is a joy to watch.
And like Scorsese, another director who presence can be felt in The Raid 2, Evans is a cineaste. But, not for him the “we know you’re out there in the dark” wink of Tarantino’s post-modern pick n’ mix cinema. Evans clearly looks to other filmmakers for inspiration, but his movies do not require heavy lifting in the cult section of Netflix to get the references.
If you loved The Raid 2 like we did, here are some movies we think paved the way.
Story: An Indonesian S.W.A.T team is trapped in a run down high-rise when attempting to bag a crime lord.
The Raid 2 connection? Kind of obvious, but no The Raid, no The Raid 2 and not just because the second instalment is a sequel. The Raid 2 was based on an earlier script, Berandal, but financing proved impossible to secure. The Raid’s success allowed Evans to dust off that script, link it to his breakthrough movie and raise the action bar once more.
But, not wanting to dish up more of the same, Evans warns, “Opinions may be divided this time because some people will just want the first film again.”
While anything’s possible, most fans of the original will thrill in seeing a director match an elevated budget with expanded ambition and imagination.
The Godfather Pt II
Story: Mafia boss Michael Corleone moves to expand his Empire into Cuba while those around him plot his downfall.
The Raid 2 connection? Our “The Godfather Pt II of heroic bloodshed movies” smacks of poster quote whorishness, but The Raid 2 deserves the comparison. The original Raid revived Eastern action on the world stage, much as The Godfather did with the gangster film, then languishing as a B-movie quickie genre. And like The Godfather Pt II, The Raid 2 expands the scope of the first movie and replaces the bravado of the original with a darker tone.
The brotherhood of the first Raid is absent as Rama is all but abandoned by his fellow officers and while blood runs thick family ties offer no security in a world where the clamber for power is the only goal.
Story: A demobbed soldier enters the yakuza underworld in post-war Hiroshima, soon discovering there’s no honour amongst thieves.
The Raid 2 connection? The title of this 1973 Japanese gangster movie from Battle Royale director Fukasaku Kinji could almost be a subtitle to The Raid 2.
The surface respectability of a criminal empire masking a snake pit of treachery and deceit, a central character entering the gangster underworld after helping a mid-level mob boss in prison, moments of eerie quiet erupting into bravura set-pieces; all are present in both movies.
But, whereas Fukasaku ultimately cannot tame his complex, multi-character plot, Evans confidently moves his large cast through an intricate story.
Story: A cast out yakuza declares war on the two heads of the city’s ruling families.
The Raid 2 connection? Like Kitano Takeshi, Gareth Evans loves filming slouching yakuza soldiers in baggy suits. And despite The Raid 2’s ultra-violence, visually it often recalls the elegant compositions Kitano employs for his elegiac tales of social outsiders.
With its restless gangster warring against established crime lord plot, Outrage shares a kinship with The Raid 2’s subplot involving Uco’s envious regard for his father’s throne. But, the distinctive gangster milieu and of impressionistic bursts of nature in all Kitano movies can be seen in Evans’ crime epic.
Ichi the Killer
Story: Psychopathic twenty-something Ichi wages war on the yakuza and the equally demented Kakihara is determined to stop him and anyone else in his way.
The Raid 2 connection? Japanese director Miike Takashi’s 2001 yakuza shocker has its diseased DNA splashed over The Raid 2. Bejo, the twisted gangster orchestrating gang war, is a cousin to the slit-mouth Kakihara and Kakihara’s flipside Jijii, who quietly pulls the strings. Hammer Girl and Baseball Bat Man’s penchant for graphic body trauma echoes carnage meted out by Ichi and Kakihara, as does, in a weird way, Rama’s heroic confrontations.
Ichi the Killer’s graphic sexual violence put the film on the wrong end of the BBFC’s scissors to the tune of 3 minutes and 15 seconds. Evans keeps a sexual element out of his evisceration, thereby getting The Raid 2 through uncut.
The Yellow Sea
Story: A Korean cabbie in China’s Yanji City takes a hitman job in Seoul to find his missing wife. But, soon seemingly every cop and gangster in Asia is hunting him down.
The Raid 2 connection? Gareth Evans must have watched Na Hong-jin’s under-seen Korean belter before embarking on The Raid 2. Both have RAGE at their core, in the anger of the central characters lashing out at the world’s brutal injustices and also in the fury of the filmmaking.
“Guns for show, knives for a pro” captures the credo of both movies’ underworld assassins and The Yellow Sea gushes with scenes where contract killers, hired goons and the central cabbie go at each other with Gordon Ramsay and Jamie Oliver’s kitchen contents.
The Raid 2’s scene with Rama trapped in a taxi beset by thugs is based on a true story Evans heard from a friend But in the sudden eruption of danger, the terrifying chase and the violence in the subsequent smackdown it shares a lineage with Na Hong-jin’s movie.
Story: A maverick cop and enigmatic hitman unite to bring down a rabid gangster ripping Hong Kong apart.
The Raid 2 connection? A key text in Gareth Evans’ formative film viewing, and although the ballistic brilliance of John Woo’s firepower epic is felt more keenly in The Raid it’s there in part 2.
Like Rama, Tony Leung Chiu-wai’s undercover cop is left hanging by a police force seemingly indifferent to protecting brother officers. And as with The Raid 2’s elder mob boss Bangun, Hard Boiled’s old guard crime lord is bewildered at the murderous venality of the next generation.
Then there is the irascible Anthony Wong’s psycho gangster Johnny Wong, as much as an influence on The Raid 2’s Bejo as Ichi the Killer’s Kakihara.
Story: An undercover cop infiltrates Hong Kong’s criminal underworld, while a criminal infiltrates the Hong Kong police force. Who will be unmasked first?
The Raid 2 connection? An undercover cop is cut loose from police protection, with his only link to the right side of the law being an avuncular senior office. A police force is corrupted by criminal elements within. The Departed may be the literal remake, but The Raid 2 celebrates the spirit of the 2002 Hong Kong classic far better.
Story: Billionaire orphan Bruce Wayne travels the world to learn skills necessary to become the Batman and bring fear to those who prey on the fearful.
The Raid 2 connection? Bit of a stretch this, but Batman Begins’ dilapidated Eastern prison and scrappy, muddy prison yard brawl seem to echo through The Raid 2’s lengthy prison section. But, we’ll happily admit to over-reaching if Gareth tells us we’re looking too hard.
The Matrix Reloaded
Story: Neo and his band of freedom fights continue the struggle against the virtual tyranny of The Matrix.
The Raid 2 connection? This one we’re more confident about. The Raid 2’s outstanding, no claims bonus blowing car chase seems to have a precedent in the knockout freeway chase from the underrated Matrix sequel. The close quarter fight in a speeding car, another car in hot pursuit to provide the hero assistance, plus motorbikes and liberal gun play all reverberate from the Wachowskis’ 2003 movie.
Not that we’re crying plagiarism; like the Wachowskis found inspiration in what went before, so Evans takes classic action moments and spins them into orbit.