“The Raid 2: Berandal” | Movie Review

The Raid 2 (2014) 1Grade (A+)

A masterful action film that brings martial-arts in cinema to unprecedented levels with an ambitious story-line you can appreciate. 

After the great success of his 2011 acclaimed martial-arts action hit “The Raid: Redemption”, writer, directer, and fight choreographer Gareth Evans brings us the next entry, “The Raid 2: Berandal”. Returning from the first film are headliner Iko Uwais and the highly skilled Yayan Ruhian. Alex Abbad, Arifin Putra, Julie Estelle, Oka Antara and Tio Pakusodewo fill out the cast.

Only a short time after rookie cop Rama (Uwais) manages to escape a housing project filled with dangerous thugs in the first raid, he learns his mission is not yet over. To continue on the path of ridding the streets of Jakarta from organized-crime and corrupt law enforcement officers, he will have to once again leave his family behind and go undercover. Virtually on his own, Rama will enter a prison for what he thinks will be a short time. Five-years later he is released, and determined to stop at nothing to bring down the evil in the city.

“The Raid 2: Berandal” bursts from the confines of its predecessors singular location and takes the story to new levels with a highly ambitious approach. The story-line spans several years and just like the one location in the first film worked in its favor, the many locations in this sequel work for it as well. There were a collection of great characters in this one that added the elements of intrigue and mystery. As you take on the scope of this two-and-a-half-hour long journey across the landscape of the Indonesian crime-world, you can never know where the script will take you next.

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The cast was once again solid and the performances were highly entertaining and delivered the intended emotions despite the cheesy America accents dubbed over the dialogue. The performances were delivered by their expressions and gestures and it was needed to carry the story between the action-sequences as you make your way through the long run-time. The plot to the story-line was not new but the nuances layered over it were what made it feel like a fresh retelling. All of this resulted in a great film that captured the feel of the classic martial-arts films, but with a modern-day, urban inspiration.

The locations were plentiful and all worked great in adding something to the film. The camera work and wide sweeping angles captured the beauty, high-society, elegance and seedy underground of each specific location used for the scenes. In stark contrast to the simple approach of the first film, this one took on a large amount and stuffed as much story and action into the sequel as it could, and it managed to do so without creating viewer fatigue. In my opinion it was a long detailed crime saga such as the “Godfather” but hinging on the action rather than the character drama. Like Francis Ford Coppola’s work on the “Godfather” saga, Gareth Evans will be remembered for his “Raid” trilogy, once it is finally completed.

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Despite everything you have read so far when it boils down to it the true intention of this film is to boast some great fighting sequences like the first one, and without question it does so, and more. There are few words to properly convey the excellence of the martial-arts sequences in this one, but it is some of the most violently elegant fighting you will see in film.

The choreography is so intricate and well-rehearsed it plays out seamless and looks as visceral as its intended. Just when you thought you have seen it all, the next scene will blow your mind. The locations and settings of the action bring different elements; from close-quarters, a large scale prison scene, and a climax that boasts as much action as you will in some entire films.

You will sit in amazement, and cringe at the violence that is captured perfectly by Gareth Evans. His cinematography adds a graphic realism that you will not see in any other film. Your time spent sitting through a load of story telling in the first half, will be made up for as the second half rarely slows and continues to bring martial-arts in film, to greater levels with each passing scene. In addition to delivering once again one of the best final fights you will see, somehow managing to outdo the two-on-one confrontation from the first film. It’s nice when a sequel delivers the greatness you hope for, and this one did just that. It’s a must see and will leave you in awe.  

Time: 150 min

MPAA Rating: R (For sequences of strong bloody violence throughout, sexuality and language)

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