Gareth Evans — writer/director of the 2012 Indonesian action film “The Raid: Redemption,” a surprising art-house hit — reunites with star Iko Uwais for this sequel. The team gets points for not simply aping the first film: Evans took an earlier script he had written and retooled it substantially to make Uwais' Rama the central character. On the other hand, the team loses points for length: “The Raid 2” is 2.5 hours — roughly 50 minutes longer than its predecessor.
Given the intensity of the fight scenes that make up much of the film, the length becomes punishing.Much in the manner of “Hard Boiled” and “Infernal Affairs” (as well as its remake, “The Departed”), Rama is recruited to go way deep cover and infiltrate the mob, in order to identify the corrupt cop who slips them information. Unfortunately, there are also constant faction fights within the criminal world, making his strategic decisions even more complicated.
“The Raid: Redemption” was possibly the most violent film I'd ever seen — until “The Raid 2.” Evans and his fight choreographers somehow crank the mayhem up to that imaginary 11. So be prepared.
Sony's Blu-ray looks and sounds as terrific as one would expect and includes a nice selection of supplements. (Some of these are omitted on the DVD edition.) There are three making-of shorts: “The Next Chapter: Shooting a Sequel,” “Ready for a Fight: On Location” and “Violent Ballet: Behind the Choreography.” They include some redundant material, which may be what motivated Evans to start his commentary track announcing his hope to avoid yet more duplication. He has a pleasant voice, and his commentary is full of info, but it also shows the limitations of solo commentaries. Having more participants generally ups the energy level, as well as breaking up the monotony of a single voice.
There's also a deleted scene, “Gang War,” and it must have broken their hearts to leave it out. It has some very clever shtick and looks like it was one of the more expensive to shoot, with lots of extras running around.Saving the best for last, there is “The Cinefamily Q&A,” in which founder Hadrian Belove interviews Evans, Uwais and composer Joe Trapanese. Its 44 minutes are not just interesting, but also amusing, partly because Uwais has limited English and is being translated much of the time by Evans, who in turn has only limited Indonesian.
The Raid 2 (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Blu-ray, $36.99; DVD, $30.99)
ANDY KLEIN is the film critic for Marquee. He can also be heard on "FilmWeek" on KPCC-FM (89.3).Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun