Almost two years ago, I did a review on the The Raid: Redemption. The film was a martial arts tour de force and it will forever remain one of the best action movies that I’ve ever seen. The fight scenes that director Gareth Evans came up with, were a ballet of of violence and beauty. As soon as that movie ended, I immediately watched it again, and have done so many times since. Ever since that first viewing, I knew that there had to be more and finally, this weekend, I was lucky enough to watch The Raid 2: Berandal.
What can I say about a movie thats been so incredibly hyped up in my head? Did it live up to it? Was it more than I expected? Did it suffer from following the same format but with a less degree? Let me just say, that two of those can be answered with a yes. The Raid 2 was everything that I had expected out of a sequel and more. It’s definitely not the same movie as the first one, in fact if I had to compare it to anything, this is the Godfather 2 of asian martial-arts films. I’ll explain what I mean with some minor spoilers below.
The beginning of the film takes place after the events of the first movie. Rama’s (Iko Uwais) brother is in trouble for his betrayal and is judged accordingly. In order to get back at the people who condemned him, Rama must go into prison undercover, in a plot to not only take out his murderes, but all of the large mobster families in Jarkarta, along with the corrupt cops of the police force. Was that a lot of information thrown at you at once? Yes, well it is in the movie as well.
The plot gets a little heavy at times, and there’s also a bit of time jumping in the beginning so you don’t really get your bearings until Rama is undercover in the prison. From there, he must prove himself to Ucok (Arifin Putra), the son of one of the biggest mobsters. How does he do that? Beat the crap out of half the prisoners while they attempt to jump him in the bathroom. From there, the film is pretty linear, and you can decipher a sweeping gangster movie that parallels films such as The Godfather and The Departed.
I was a big fan of just how much Evans fleshed out the characters in this film. The first film was all about Rama and a couple of other cops, fighting their way to the top of a tower. You didn’t really get to know any of them as people, and the martial arts was the main focus. Evans really took it upon himself in this film to make a masterpiece, and with the two and a half hour running time, I think he achieved his goal.
So, just how does the action hold up in this film compared to the first? It’s everything that you loved in the first film, jacked up to ELEVEN. The camera shots, the blood, the frenetic energy of every frame is so masterfully done that you feel each hit and are completely immersed in Rama’s world. There’s a shot at the beginning of the big mud battle that seems to go on for at least five minutes. My jaw hit the floor as I realized that Evans wasn’t cutting and that the actors were doing this in one take. Simply brilliant.
Evans has said that the end kitchen scene was the hardest and longest to film, and when you see it you’ll know why. It’s completely out of control. The other stand out, is the car chase. Five dudes, one SUV, and a lot of bloody action at 60 miles per hour!
The stand outs from this film are Uwais back in the role of Rama again. If he doesn’t cross over to American acting from this film, I will be shocked. Arifin Putra did a fantastic job as Ucok, the jaded son of a Mob Boss. His pretty-boy demeanor is a good dichotomy to just how evil he can get on screen. I was also heartily impressed by Hammer Girl (Julie Estelle) how was as beautiful as she was deadly. Her scenes were unbelievable as she wielded her hammers of justice.
The film doesn’t set up itself for a sequel, but Evans has already said that the third film is already planned out. It will take place two hours before the end of The Raid 2.
“There is a scene at the end of The Raid 2 that will set off a chain of events.”
Given what he’s saying, I wouldn’t be surprised if the third film doesn’t star Uwais as the main character, but could possibly meet up with him later in the film. I guess we’ll have to wait another 2 years to find out; but I know I’ll be there whenever it comes out.
The Raid 2: Berandal is in theaters now, so go and see it before it leaves. Don’t expect the first film because this one is vastly different. Evans is really doing a good job at building a bigger universe for these characters. When it comes to the movie’s DVD and blu-ray release, Evans has already promised an audio commentary as well as deleted scenes and more! We’ll keep you posted here at DFAT as more news is revealed when it will be out!
The Raid 2 – Rating: A