The Raid 2 Blu-ray Review
Gareth Evans swallows The Godfather and throws up this bloody brutal beast
The Raid 2 Blu-ray Review
After the success of his stunning debut, director Gareth Evans trades in the claustrophobia and efficiency that made The Raid one of the best action movies of all time, in favour of a broader canvas, more convoluted plotting, and an epic design.The tactic largely works. And it also makes sense. After all, the "1 minute of romance, 100 minutes of action" motto of The Raid may have made that movie a tremendous adrenaline-rush of an actioner, but trying to keep the momentum running in a sequel may have been self-defeating.
Indeed, the plot of The Raid 2 - which sees the super-cop protagonist of the first movie thrown undercover into a brutal prison environment, before exploding out onto the streets; forced to confront not one, but three warring crime families - was actually originally intended by Evans to be the first story they shot. Called Berandal - which is still this film's subtitle in some territories - the sheer scope of the piece made it budget-prohibitive, particularly when compared to the single-corridor set which enabled The Raid to be shot so damn inexpensively. Now reworked as an outright sequel, Berandal is a grand expanse of a film which, only in its final forty minutes, crescendos into the same sort of pure ultra-violent action that endured almost throughout The Raid.For the rest of its epic, but slightly uncomfortably long runtime, Evans bombards audiences not only with bone-crunching body-blows - although those do come fairly frequently - but with a plethora of new characters, many of which even get their own backstory. Whilst you can see The Godfather heritage to the piece, and whilst you have to admire Evans's evident skill at managing comparatively complex plotting, character machinations and twists - which only add to the skills he had already shown as a confident action director - The Raid 2 sometimes borders on being quite a bloated, cumbersome beast, feeling like a far cry from the slick efficiency of its predecessor.
Still, for the most part, the grander, more epic design works. Evans competently constructs a bigger picture to this crime saga, painting on a broader canvas and giving the series the potential to endure considerably better than had this just been an identikit sequel. And, for those who make it to the final reel, he certainly delivers on the action-impact promise of the original. And then some. For many, this will more than make up for the thick plotting that comes first.
What is The Raid 2 Blu-ray Picture QualityThose familiar with the first movie will likely be more than aware of its shortcomings in terms of visuals. It was just a downright dirty-looking film, shot on a shoestring budget, so it was never going to look stunning. Certainly the sequel has been designed to fit right into the same environment, boasting dour visuals steeped in muddy greys and gloomy shadows, with little vibrancy and deep red blood ever ready to spurt. But, perhaps thanks to the enhanced budget, this certainly looks like a considerably more stable, impressive image.
With a far stronger video presentation than its predecessor, the Raid series was never going to look spectacular, but it does look a lot better.
Provided with a 1080p/AVC-encoded High Definition video presentation in the movie's original theatrical aspect ratio of 2.40:1 widescreen, detail is a notch better than you would expect, creeping out of the darkest shadows and illuminating the smallest objects. Skin detail highlights hairs, texture and bloody damage in all its glory; whilst clothing weaves are evident and background fine objects well respected. All this with no overt signs of excessive DNR application, edge enhancement, artefacting, banding, or unacceptable crush. The colour scheme is, as noted, quite limited, and black levels do crush out a smidge, but, aside from a smattering of variable noise, this is a largely very good video presentation which should certainly be seen as a step up for the series.
What is The Raid 2 Blu-ray SoundThe audio accompaniment is brash and bold but also nuanced and varied enough to offer an engulfing, atmospheric presentation of the movie, most welcome in its original language Indonesian DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 flavour (there's a dodgy English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 dub too, but, please, just deal with the subtitles and absorb the natural original language flavour).
The Raid 2 offers up an immersive sonic accompaniment.
Dialogue takes precedence where necessary, dominating the fronts and centre channels for as long as is required - which, arguably, is far longer than with the first instalment. Effects are myriad, going beyond just the penetrating gunshots and painful body blows that you might have expected to offer up car crashes that will leave you just as broken. Surround usage is frequently overwhelming, but even the quieter moments get decent coverage, with insects and crackling leaves blown by the gusting wind. The score marries up to the pace perfectly, and injects some further LFE input which comes as more than welcome, and, all in all, this is a stomping audio accompaniment.
The Raid 2 Blu-ray ExtrasBesting its US counterpart on the extras front, we get all of the same supplements together with a further exclusive extra. Director Gareth Evans provides another welcome Audio Commentary, and we get a number of solid background Featurettes which are the antithesis of fluffy and vary in length from 10-20 minutes, providing substantial weight in terms of information into the production, as well as lots of interesting cast and crew snippets played out against a backdrop of b-roll and on-set footage. The Next Chapter: Shooting a Sequel looks at following on from the last movie, scripting a superior sequel, filming the key fights and the car chase sequence; Ready for a Fight: On Location looks more specifically at the locations used, as well as the more technical aspects of the shoot; and Violent Ballet: Behind the Choreography takes the longest look at the masterful fight choreography. There's a single Deleted Scene - Gang War - which runs at almost 5 minutes in length, and two Q & A sessions; both with Gareth Evans and star Iko Uwais, as well as Joe Trapanese for the first and Yayan Ruhian for the second, which is a UK exclusive. The disc is rounded off by a number of Trailers.
Is The Raid 2 Blu-ray Worth BuyingWith the somewhat worrying news that, not only are we going to get a Hollywood remake (which was not that much of a surprise), but that it's going to star actors who have no martial arts skills whatsoever, and haven't even proven that they can carry a movie by themselves (Taylor Kitsch!), the time has come to revel in the original two movies that will, with any luck, have spawned a third before the Hollywood remake even gets off the ground.
The Raid 2 will have you walking in expecting just an excellent action movie but walking out having enjoyed a solid gangster flick too.
This Region B-locked UK Blu-ray release matches up to its US counterpart in terms of very good video and excellent audio, but bests it in terms of extras, making it the definitive release for fans of the films, and a must-have purchase for anybody who enjoyed The Raid. And if you haven't seen The Raid yet, rectify that mistake now.
Suggested retail price when reviewed: £15.99
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