‘The Raid 2′ Reviews Are In

Director Gareth Evans delivers a relentless series of bone-shattering knock-out punches that has impressed and repulsed the critics.

Director Gareth Evans and star Iko Uwais have joined forces again for “The Raid 2,” once again turning the criminal underworld of Jakarta on its head — and snapping every single bone in the process.

Unlike the first “Raid,” the sequel escapes the close-confines of the crime-riddled tenement and bursts out into the various warring factions competing for control over Jakarta’s criminal enterprises. With the walls expanded, Evans and Uwais flex their muscles with more relentless violence and gore than even the first film managed to muster. The enhanced action has dazzled many critics, but there are some who feel the blood-spurting carnage is too much mayhem to endure.

Read on for more of what the critics have to say about “The Raid 2″:

The Story
“Uwais stars as Rama, the sole survivor of the first movie, and before he’s even had a chance to rest up from his earlier ordeal, he gets a new assignment: go undercover behind bars and get ingratiated with Uco (Arifin Putra), the only son of crime boss Bangun (Tio Pakusodewo). After saving Uco’s life on more than one occasion, Rama becomes Uco’s tight confederate, and when Rama finally finishes out the multi-year sentence (talk about devotion to undercover police work), there’s a job waiting for him in Bangun’s empire.

Uco is itchy to get more responsibility, and Bangun’s reluctance to hand the reins over to this vain hothead leads to problems — from Uco violating the fragile piece that Bangun has with the Japanese mob, to an all-out attempted coup that pits son against father. All the while, Rama tries to remain detached, even as he comes to realize that the police force has become so corrupted by Bangun and his cohorts that the line between cop and crook is, at best, blurry.” — Alonso Duralde, The Wrap

The Fight Scenes
“The sheer imagination on show, both in the cinematography and choreography, guarantees each brawl is instantly iconic. A breathless toilet-based takedown (Rama, trapped in a cubicle against 20 bustling goons) is just the audacious start. Notable highlights include a freewheeling and visceral 30 to 40-person prison-yard brawl, a thrillingly crafted, bone-crunchingly destructive car chase, a wryly funny trio of gangland assassinations, and a tense, violently balletic kitchen-based finale that echoes Bruce Lee’s unfinished masterpiece ‘Game Of Death’ (by way of a particularly narked-off Gordon Ramsay).

Immaculately edited, each traumatic, tensely tactile fight would blur into chaos if not for Evans’ pinpoint pacing — there’s an ebb and a flow to the aggro woven around the storyline. The director also flaunts a knack for turning sedate moments into explosive ones — something that refreshes all the more in the face of modern blockbusting’s tendency to start big and just keep getting bigger, until burnout. ‘The Raid 2′ may not be the best action, gangster, or even martial-arts movie ever made. But as a combination of all three, it’s unparalleled in recent memory and offers a tantalising glimpse into a post-Bayhem action-movie world. Brutal, beautiful and brilliant.” — Matt Risley, Total Film

The Gore
“Yes, it’s all insanely, relentlessly gory. You could say (and some will) that the gratuitousness of the violence in ‘The Raid 2′ is a problem. But it all functions as part of the surreal dance of death: The neck-snapping and the bone-crunching and the heads being smashed in all work to punctuate the movement, the way a series of ballet steps might end in an arabesque or other pose. Without the impact, the movement is nothing.” — Bilge Ebiri, Vulture

The Bayhem
“It brings me no great pleasure to report that the ‘The Raid 2′ is to ‘The Raid’ as ‘Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen’ was to the first ‘Transformers’: it’s longer, flashier and bloated well past the point of tedium.

Like Bay, Evans uses the greater creative and financial freedom offered by directing the sequel to a popular film by indulging in some of his worst tendencies, whether it’s going overboard on the smug sadism (which was also present, but less showy in the first movie) or ‘balancing’ the casual misogyny with which he treats the rare female characters by trotting out the equally tired trope of the bad-ass, but personality-free warrior woman. Even the action sequences lack the same punch this time around; they’re still executed with impressive precision (I appreciate the way that Evans refrains from chopping up the fights willy-nilly, allowing each blow to land before cutting away), but the parade of carnage is wearying instead of invigorating.” — Ethan Alter, Movies Without Pity

The Final Word
“This particular brand of look-through-your-fingers-if-you-dare savagery is not for everyone. You’ll either dial right into the film’s feverish frequency or head for the concession stand. But if it’s more that you’re after, then The Raid 2 will make you feel like Christmas came nine months early. Some action sequels don’t know when to say when. But here’s one where too much is just the right amount.” — Chris Nashawaty, Entertainment Weekly

“The Raid 2″ is in theaters now.

Likes pizza, punch and pie. Dislikes the Chitauri.
@roundhoward