Movie Review: “The Raid 2: Berandal” – Bloody Brilliant Action

Written by Leo Panasyuk May 01, 2014

the-raid-2-berendal-trailer-1 Gareth Evans’ 2011 martial arts masterpiece “The Raid” redefined the action genre. With its focus on fast and frantic fight sequences, spectacular shootout setpieces, and little-to-no use of CGI, it became what most action films nowadays only aspire to be – a true, action-lover’s experience. With “The Raid 2: Berandal,” Evans returns to expand the universe of the first film, immersing the audience in a seedy underground war in which anything, and anyone, is fair game.

From the Slums to the Streets

The film picks up only a few hours after the conclusion of the first film, with Rama (Iko Uwais) still dazed and fazed from his battle for survival in the hellish high-rise. But before he can return to a normal life, he is requested to go undercover and infiltrate one of the two crime families controlling the city in an attempt to dismantle it from the inside. With little choice in the matter, Rama dives into the crime-infested underworld of Jakarta where he learns that friendships are fragile and loyalties are limited.

The first of many brilliant fight sequences.

The first of many brilliant fight sequences.

This is one of those rare times where the sequel massively outdoes the original. There are significantly more fight sequences in “The Raid 2” than the last, and each one actually acts as a progression of the plot, wherein each sequence culminates in a revelation for the characters that serves to drive the plot forward. The action can be best described as a crescendo; each subsequent sequence builds on the danger and intensity of the last and the film’s final 30 minutes are some of the most pulse-pounding and adrenaline-charging moments in action cinema I have ever witnessed.

Delves into Deeper, Darker Territory

To accompany the elongated run time (150 minutes), the story has been greatly expanded to include a dramatic plot centered on the film’s two warring crime families. Uco (Arifin Putra), the son of one of the crime bosses, is a vicious, violent, yet surprisingly sympathetic character who only seeks the approval of his pensive and passive father, and his rocky relationship with Rama gives the film some of its most tense scenes (that don’t involve action). The drawback to the story’s expansion is that there are too many characters to keep track of and though most of these characters’ plotlines are resolved, certain name-drops here and there may confuse certain viewers. Though it’s not the most original story, “The Raid 2” is relatively easy to follow through its various twists and turns and because of its seamless integration into the otherwise action-packed film, it does little to detract from the action.

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The action by itself is certainly an example of the film’s increased budget and the dedication of its actors/filmmakers. With a budget over three times the amount of the original film, the filmmakers were able to create more elaborate and grandiose setpieces, including a down-and-dirty prison riot as well as my personal favourite – a high-octane car chase. Each action sequence features stunning cinematography that truly brings you to the core of the action and makes you feel every kick, punch, and shot. It’s definitely an experience.

Overall

“The Raid 2: Berandal” is everything a fan of action cinema could ask for, and more. Though the 150-minute run time may discourage some from seeing it, make no mistake – this film will have you on the edge of your seat from the opening shot to the final credit. With a larger emphasis on story as a means of complementing the action, the film feels more balanced than its predecessor and improves on nearly everything that made the original so memorable. We may only be a few months away from the third entry in the “Expendables” franchise, but if you’re looking for something to satiate your action craving, look no further. This is it.

My Rating: 8.5/10

The-Raid-2-Mosaic-Poster

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About Leo Panasyuk

A fan of all things film, Leo never really lets himself get tied down to one specific genre. He's always interested in watching new and old films and especially loves the IMAX format. When he's not choosing which movie to watch next, he's studying Film and English at Western University.

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