The Greatest Action Movies You’ve Never Heard Of: The Raid Duology

I start my latest review with a look back at the John Wick trilogy, which has made over $573 million to date at the box office. What made this action franchise so thrilling to viewers is its emphasis on the main character’s fight for survival, an element which is tempered by the fear Wick instills in one villain after another as they learn of his past achievements as an assassin. You get the sense he’s never in any real danger. 

The same cannot be said for Rama, the main protagonist of Indonesian action film The Raid: Redemption. Yet this underappreciated character and film are something which Wick fans may enjoy as they count the days until John Wick 4’s opening in 2021.

Rama is introduced to the audience in a way that conveys his martial arts training and his attachment to his family, meaning he is very skilled and has something to lose. The movie mainly focuses on his struggle as he quickly becomes trapped in the criminal hotel with his fellow S.W.A.T officers. 

In terms of plot, it’s pretty straight forward. However, what this movie lacks in plot it’s well made up for with the spectacular fight scenes. Rama and his friends are truly in for the fight of their lives. While he’s skilled, he isn’t on the same legendary, almost invincible level as Wick. Because of this you really fear for him and the fact he’s in a bleak situation with no foreseeable way out.

The fight scenes and emotional wait behind them are what really make this movie breathtaking. Along with the struggle of the main characters, it is in its own way a perfect action movie.

The first Raid movie was an amazing stand alone action movie that didn’t need a sequel. So naturally, it got a sequel. The Raid 2 (2014) 

I have high standards when it comes to sequels of great movies, in the sense that they must differ significantly from or expand upon the first movie. But the real question is does The Raid 2 live up to these standards? No, absolutely not.

While it’s not terrible, it’s certainly disappointing. The movie starts out showing promise with the introduction of criminal factions and a secret police organization trying to remove all corruption from the city which Rama becomes part of. He then goes undercover as a criminal to take down these gangs that are running the city. However, the movie tries to juggle too many protagonists and leaves all of them underdeveloped and shallow.

What made the first movie so emotional was the attachment to Rama, except now he’s only in about half the movie after the prison scenes. Just comparing the movie posters, the first shows Rama standing in front of the hotel. Symbolizing the gauntlet of enemies he’ll have to face to save his friends, it’s intriguing and instills fear just by looking at it. As for the second, it’s a collage of all the characters in the movie. It’s stereotypical, there’s no personality to this poster and is an overall basic design. 

Speaking of the characters, the second scraps the enclosed setting and few characters for a crime drama with far too many characters to keep track of. This concept would work well for a T.V show rather than a movie. After a certain point, the pacing becomes so slow that it’s hard to stay awake.

The best part of this movie is easily when Rama goes to prison. The atmosphere is murky and uncertain as he’s being targeted by several criminals and with that comes some amazing fight scenes reminiscent of the first movie. However, they brush over this part of the movie so briefly and time jumps to two years in the present.

Overall, The Raid: Redemption is an outstanding movie with real emotional conflict and some of the most intense fight scenes i’ve ever seen. It’s easily a 10/10 film. It’s sequel however, definitely showed promise but just failed to live up to that potential set by the first one. The fight scenes are few and far between with characters I couldn’t be bothered to remember the names of and the movies central protagonist is nowhere to be found 50 percent of the time. Generously, I’d say it’s an underwhelming 6/10.