The Raid 2: Berandal (2014)
Director: Gareth Evans
Cast: Iko Uwais, Yayan Ruhian, Arifin Putra
Plot: Only a short time after the first raid, Rama goes undercover with the thugs of Jakarta and plans to bring down the syndicate and uncover the corruption within his police force.
Genre: Action / Crime / Thriller
Rating: R21 for sequences of strong bloody violence throughout, sexuality and language.
IN RETROSPECT (Spoilers: NO)
“No... I'm done.”
The first film, The Raid: Redemption (2012), came at a time when a kickass, cultish violent action movie was due. It was something that action aficionados did not expect, but accepted gleefully. Coming from Indonesia, the film showed how a high-concept film – it is about a SWAT team whose mission is to infiltrate a heavily-guarded building to its highest floor and capture the boss of an organized crime syndicate – could be inventive and bloody good at the same time.
Its sequel, The Raid 2: Berandal, gives us more of the exhilarating fight scenes and graphic violence, but without the tight, pressure-cooker scenario of the first one. You may say that the sequel is less tense, but it is no less intense.
Berandal is about 2.5 hours long, and its length can be felt. There's more setup, drama, and back-story, all adding to its bulk. Thankfully, the end result isn't as clunky as expected, but while you would need more patience to sit through this than the first installment, I think it's fair to say that Evans' treatment for the sequel is justified.
There's no point in doing the same kind of picture twice, regardless of setting. And by centering on themes of loyalty and betrayal within a larger backdrop of organized crime in Indonesia, Berandal has that epic scope to it, pitting Indonesian gangsters with the Japanese yakuza enclave.
The film takes place in many locations, particularly the action. There is a virtuoso car chase sequence, shot with breathtaking agility of the camera. Another gory fight sequence involves a hit-woman with a pair of hammers battling the yakuza in a moving public train.
An assortment of weapons are used in the perfectly-choreographed fight scenes, but the lead actor Iko Uwais' unarmed combat skills are most mesmerizing to watch – see how he snaps a person's foot with his bare hands. The film is a violent buffet of graphic scenes, both beautiful and disturbing at the same time, and most certainly not for the faint-hearted.
Berandal is a satisfying sequel, and will please most fans both East and West. I'm sure, like the first film, it will go down as a cult classic, and become an essential viewing for purveyors of action cinema.
Verdict: This exhilarating sequel gives us more of the intense fight scenes and graphic violence, now set against the larger canvas of organized crime.
GRADE: B+ (8/10 or 3.5 stars)
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