2 years ago, a little film from Indonesia called THE RAID:REDEMPTION came out of nowhere. It was a short, contained martial arts film that was absolutely relentless. The action started within the first 20 minutes and pretty much didn’t stop until the very end. The action choreography was some of the best I’ve seen since ONG BAK. When it was announced that there was going to be a sequel, I wasn’t too excited about it because my first thoughts were, “What the hell can they do more with this franchise?” Not much is what I thought. I figured it would pretty much be more of the same, which wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing, but could be a tad repetitive. Now, writer/director Gareth Evans has finally unleashed his sequel, THE RAID 2: BERANDAL…… and it’s actually quite different from the previous film.
Now while the first movie had a very simple plot (good guys battle bad guys in a building), the story in this one is surprisingly intricate. If you haven’t seen the first one, or only saw the first one once over a year ago, I would say that it’s required viewing that you watch it before you see this one, otherwise you could end up being very, very lost. I won’t spoil the very first scene for you, but the movie takes place pretty much immediately after the first one. Rama (Iko Uwais) is assigned to go deep undercover to catch some bad guys and crooked cops who were connected with events from the last film. Rama ends up in prison and befriends the son of a major crime lord. Once released, he gets a job working for the family. But there are about a dozen other baddies that are trying to take over the crime syndicate, and before you know it there are fists, legs, baseball bats, hammers, and blood flying everywhere. And while this is going on, Rama tortured by the fact that he is missing out on his family and watching his infant son grow up.
The first one was simple. But this one is more comparable to THE GODFATHER, or more accurately, the INFERNAL AFFAIRS trilogy (or THE DEPARTED for American audiences). There are so many characters and mafia families introduced during the first hour that it’s very easy to be overwhelmed and tune out the entire movie. But, if you’re patient enough and stick with it, you’ll eventually figure everything out and be rewarded with one of the most exhilarating, action packed crime sagas ever made.
Some people complain that action movies don’t have enough character development, or not a very strong story. You definitely can’t accuse THE RAID 2 for that. It’s exactly 2 and a half hours, but it goes by pretty swiftly. I admit to being momentarily confused during the first half hour as I was trying to figure out who was who and what was going on, but once I did I was able to enjoy all the double crossings and brutal fights scenes laid before me.
There’s probably about 3 or 4 major action scenes….. during the first half of the movie, with the highlight being a prison riot in the rain. The way it’s shot was mindblowing, with very long takes as the camera “steadicam’s” its way through all the flaying bodies. There’s an overhead shot during this sequence that had me gaping my jaw to the floor as I wondered how the hell they choreographed this thing.
Then the second half. Holy crap! Wow! First, we’re introduced to 3 of the most deadly henchmen ever to grace the silver screen. There’s a dude who kills people with a baseball and a bat, a girl who slaughters people with a hammer (her very bloody introduction when she takes on 2 dozen guys on a train is worth the price of admission alone), and a guy who is probably a better fighter than our hero, Rama. So each one of these villains gets an awesome intro, that way we know just how bad ass they are. That means when Rama finally fights each of them, there is a great feeling of tension before every one of those confrontations (the moment right before he fights the final guy is a absolutely perfect).
Gareth Evans has proven himself to not only be a great action director, but a master filmmaker and storyteller. It’s not just a “good action movie”, it’s a great “movie”, PERIOD! Every scene, every shot has been carefully thought out, choreographed and storyboarded. The action does not feature the current trend of close-ups and fast cutting. The action is filmed with lots of mastershots and long takes so you can clearly see what is happening. There are many moments that will make you stare at the screen with awe. I would say there are at least a dozen or so extended action scenes, including a car chase that could definitely be compared with some of cinema’s best. Also, this movie is extremely violent. I can’t believe this got by with an R rated. This contains some of the most gleefully violent images I’ve ever seen in a movie. Of course, I enjoyed every second of it. And like I said, it isn’t all action. There is definitely a strong story that complements all the blood and guts
An interesting side note: Evans planned on making this movie first. It was written, choreographed and ready to go, but when he couldn’t raise enough money, he decided to shoot a movie that could be made on a lower budget. So he wrote a prequel (which was the first movie), and shot THAT first. Then when that one was a hit, he was able to get the funds to shoot the original movie he wanted to shoot all along. So this film has been several years in the making, and it really shows. It’s master class storytelling.
I can’t recommend this movie enough. Action fans, you are absolutely in for a treat. THE RAID 2 contains some of the best action scenes ever put on the big screen. If you miss this movie……. well, then you’re really not that big of an action fan. And make sure that you see the first RAID before you see this movie. THAT IS MANDATORY!
The first RAID was a great action movie that didn’t let up. THE RAID 2 tops that movie ten times over! It’s a masterpiece of mindblowing action. I can’t stress enough that this movie is NOT TO BE MISSED for action fans. It’s top-notch, martial arts action, filled with exhilarating ultra violence and an intricately compelling story. Gareth Evans has created an action masterpiece! ★★★★ (out of ★★★★)
– Rated R for sequences of strong bloody violence throughout, sexuality and language.
– Running time: 2hrs 30min