Coming back to the UK reminded me of how much Hong Kong is a cinema-centric culture despite the technology, mobile devices and amazing restaurants. Going to the cinema there was literally half the price of London, which means that I am much more critical of the entertainment shown. The first film I have seen that was actually worth it’s ticket price since I have got back is The Raid 2.
The Raid put the Indonesian martial arts scene on the map with a highly kinetic film that owed much of its visual intensity to computer games. You can see shades of vintage Bruce Lee films and the ‘gun fu’ popularised by John Woo in these films. Whilst there might be a Hong Kong influence, the Indonesian martial artists definitely carve out their own path.
The Raid 2 follows on just hours from the first film; but is an entirely different beast. It is much more polished. The plot is even better developed. The acting has improved. But if you love the original film you will still have plenty to keep you happy in The Raid 2. They have added to the original formula, rather than having taken anything away. As you can see from the trailer, there is still lashings of Indonesian-style kinetic action in the second film.
But the film’s pace ebbs and flows in order to tell a more detailed story this time around, which feels very much like an early John Woo, pre-Hollywood. There is a nod to Quentin Tarantino with some of the gimmicky characters such as the Hammer Girl character. The plot is a similar structure to A Fistful Of Dollars. Our hero goes under cover to gain the trust of an organised crime family and ends up between two factions within the one criminal organisation bent on gaining power.