‘The Raid 2′ Review

Published 3 months ago by

The Raid 2 Reviews Berandal The Raid 2 Review

The Raid 2 (also known as Berandal) picks up hours after the events of The Raid: Redemption, as the fallout from rookie cop Rama’s (Iko Uwais) siege on Boss Tama’s high-rise compound makes big ripples in both the cop and crook worlds. Rama quickly finds himself between a rock and a hard place; not only are murderous gangsters looking for him, the corrupt cops and politicians who green-lit Boss Tama’s trap are after him as well. On the advice of a veteran cop he can trust, Rama agrees to a dangerous mission: go undercover in the criminal underworld to root-out the real threat of political corruption in Jakarta.

After much time and hardship, Rama manages to infiltrate the inner circle of Ucok (Arifin Putra), the son of crime boss Bangun (Tio Pakusodewo). But as the saying goes, it’s warmer under the dragon’s wing than one might think. When rival gang leader Bejo (Alex Abbad) starts a clandestine war for the streets of Jakarta, Rama finds that his choice of bedfellows isn’t as clear-cut as he originally thought – and not everyone is who they originally seem to be.

The Raid 2 Yayan Ruhian as Prakoso The Raid 2 Review

Yayan Ruhian in ‘The Raid 2′

The Raid: Redemption was nothing short of a new milestone for the action genre (read my 5-Star review – Spoilers: I liked it). Using bare minimum, writer/director Gareth Evans scrapped together a sick single-setting action/horror thrill ride, complete with camera tricks and martial arts choreography that hadn’t really been seen before; living in that shadow, The Raid 2 would have to do something truly astounding to top its predecessor. Sadly, despite its expansive ambitions, The Raid 2 falls short of matching the simple pleasure of the first installment – but for action fans, there is still some next-level stunt and choreography work alive and present in Evans’ sequel.

Berandal is basically the movie Evans wanted to make before budgetary restrictions forced him to make The Raid: Redemption instead. The sequel in many ways seems like a celebration of the first film’s success (and an expanded budget), which is both good and bad for the film, overall. Yes, there are some pretty crazy ambitious set pieces and fight sequences – and a lot more evidence of Evans’ stylistic fingerprint in the way shots and sequences are designed and executed onscreen (see: the prison yard riot sequence). The Raid 2 looks – on a directorial level – much more sophisticated and lavish than The Raid 1, proving that Evans has artistry to go along with those action sequencing skills.

The Raid 2 Prison Fight Sequence The Raid 2 Review

However, much of The Raid 2‘s biggest sequences feel arbitrary and disconnected from overly convoluted narrative (more on that later). On the whole, the film feels like “action porn” – i.e., a pastiche of scenes and bloody “money shots” that are loosely strung together by a flimsy and clichéd narrative, which only serves to transition us from one bloody sequence to another. Several of the battle sequences have nothing at all to do with our main character – they’re just there as evidence of Evans’ filmmaking creativity and prowess, another deposit in the Berandal money-shot bank. In the moment, each action sequence is pretty captivating to watch – but without proper story/character support, the film becomes a flaccid routine around the time the thirtieth bone is being sadistically broken, or the seventeenth gash is being grotesquely cut through flesh. The pleasure quotient of action porn has a pretty short shelf-life.

That’s not to say that Evans doesn’t tack a story onto The Raid 2; in fact, it’s a much more intricate and layered story than first film. However, complexity is not always a good thing: the first film benefitted from its thrilling simplicity (get to the top of a building full of psycho addicts and murders without dying); the sequel nearly drowns in its over-bloated cast of characters and their accompanying storylines. Just talking dramatis personae: there are three crime boss characters (Indonesian, Japanese and Arab); a Godfather-style father/son crime drama; a whole sub-set of assassin characters who get their own storylines and sequences; and oh yeah, Rama’s Infernal Affairs undercover drama is part of it, too.

The Raid 2 Berandal Uwais The Raid 2 Review

Iko Uwais in ‘The Raid 2′

It’s far too much to keep track of, and at 2.5 hours of runtime, the bloated weight of the film is all too noticeable as it drags along.  The Raid 2 is admittedly a universe-expanding chapter of the franchise (stay tuned for The Raid 3), and so therefore it has a lot of narrative to service and set up – but some of the choices that Evans makes with the storyline are downright shocking – and not in a good way. The first 10 minutes of the film will likely baffle fans of the first film – as will the point where the sequel leaves off. Worse yet, the overall point or theme of this intricately woven crime saga is unclear, as the violent climax doesn’t work nearly as smartly or as effectively as, say, the final moments of PT Anderson’s There Will Be Blood – which this movie has “borrowed” from quite liberally…

The cast of actors include both veteran and fresh faces from the Indonesian film industry – including some regulars from “Camp Evans.” Performances are solid, with Tio Pakusodewo bringing some theatrical gravitas to make Bangun an interesting antagonist, and Iko Uwais being given a lot more range to work with. Julie Estelle’s “Hammer Girl” doesn’t say much but will nonetheless be a fan-favorite (one of the better elements of the movie); but Yayan Ruhian (‘Mad Dog’ from the first film) is completely shoehorned into the mix, in what is one of film’s most needless and extraneous plot threads. The physical acting is top of its game though, and is easily the one area in which the sequel exceeds the original. Some of what choreographers Uwais and Ruhian come up with is deliciously crazy… and pretty awesome to witness onscreen.

Hammer Girl in The Raid 2 The Raid 2 Review

Hammer Girl in ‘The Raid 2′

Ultimately, The Raid 2 leaves us somewhere in a middle ground: a slow and convoluted crime saga story to sift through in order to experience some bigger, bloodier, crazier action sequence highlights. A bit of a sophomore slump – but not for lack of effort or ambition on the part of Evans and his crew. Let’s just hope that The Raid 3 (which apparently will attempt an ambitious midquel story approach) will cut some fat and streamline things back down into a leaner, more focused narrative direction. Given the body count in this chapter, that shouldn’t be much of a problem.

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The Raid 2 is currently playing in limited release. It expands to wide release soon.

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Our Rating:

3 out of 5
(Good)

TAGS: the raid 2

68 Comments

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  1. Do not agree with the review. I loved the first one but it hardly felt like a real movie. If anything the first one was action porn. It had no story to speak of, only a basic outlines of it. It was like an excessive, a trial or a preparation for the second one which is a full fleshed out movie with story (although quite a cliche one) interesting characters and actual character development. This is probably what the director wanted to do from the beginning just couldn’t because of several restrictions.

    Not to say that the movie did not have problems, mainly the pacing. However, I’m not sure there is way around it since the action is so hard pumping and exciting it’s hard to match with story elements that keep that pace. Also that recast of the Mad Dog actor and actually the whole character was unnecessary. His fight scene was probably the most forgettable. People were actually confused by why is Mad Dog around.

    No need to comment on the action which is nothing short of amazing, again on another level than the first one because the villains that are so interesting and diverse.
    0
    Unfortunately the movie is very baddy promoted in the US and most people do not know about it. Do not miss this.

    • I have to agree with Todd. I thought it was a great film. The first one WAS fight porn while this one had an actual plot and dialog. It didn’t drag for me at all. You could it was a longer flick, but that was ok. The fights had purpose.
      I can watch this a few times and not be bored.

    • Um, it’s not Mad Dog.

      http://www.aintitcool.com/node/63126

  2. I saw it lastnight. The Raid 2 was simply amazing. Best action film in the past decade. It exceeds the first film, which I didnt think it would so I was pleasantly surprised. It had a much more complex plot with an excellent cast. The father/son dynamic between Bangun & Uco was great. The action blew me away. I dont remember cheering and clapping in a theater that much ever. It was like a thrill ride. I cant wait for The Raid 3.

  3. im going to see it tomorrow night here in jacksonville, florida. anyone seen it in the US yet or only in anothr country?

  4. OH MY EFFFING GOD!!! I just came back from seeing The Raid 2 and I’m still in shock and awe over this epic action masterpiece! I was actually kind of let down by the first film, maybe because of the hype I don’t know, but this film is just on a whole other level. It was more than just an action movie, it was a work of art in my opinion. There are still shots and sequences burned into my eye sockets as I type this. I seriously think this may have just slipped into my top five action films of all-time and that’s no easy task. I cannot wait for The Raid 3!!!

  5. THIS MOVIE IS A BIT TOO LONG, BUT STILL GOOD. I REALLY ENJOY SEEING Yayan Ruhian IN ACTION.

  6. If I made that movie I’d be incredibly proud but as a movie fan I have to admit to being a tad disappointed. I think I expected too much. I think a lot of the fans don’t realise there are many movies out there like that already. Better ones. I especially like South Korean cinema, and I’ll bet Gareth Evans does too. He didn’t invent this genre. But he’s watched a lot. Much better movies with just as good, if not better (though perhaps not as many) fight scenes are City of Violence, Bittersweet Life, Dirty Carnival (baseball bats AND mud), New World, Nameless Gangster. Even Oldboy. Oh, and hasn’t Rama gotten a bit fat? And what happened to his personality?

  7. saw this last night here in ajcksonville, fl and can honestly say i was amazed at how good this movie actually was. i loved the the first raid but there wasnt a very big story in the 1st one, just a bunch of swat team members trying to survive but the action was phenomenal, i went into the raid 2 kind of expecting the same thing but i was shocked…the story was amazing, the acting, the action and it was very well shot, Mr. Evans defintiely knows how to make a movie, during the prison mud fight i felt like i was right in the middle of the action and the choreography was wondefully done…i thought the movie was a little long for this type of genre but now that i think about it, i dont think they could of made it work being any shorter…all in all, wonderful film, i willbe buying it on blu ray the day it comes out and look forward to seeing the raid 3…and does anybody have an idea of what was said at the very end right before rama was leaving the warehouse and the japanese showed up?

    • I have no idea either. I think that the dialog was drowned-out by the music on purpose, so that what was said could not influence any further episodes.

  8. I liked this movie and I recommend it as a bloody action thriller.

    I did not see the first movie.

    At the ticket kiosk, the length, 150 minutes, made me hesitate. After all, I am not a big action film fan. Action film “Captain America” bored me and had too many jittery camera shots, and dramatic film “Noah” made me sleepy and depressed. But I decided to give it a try. Actually, I was riveted to the edge of the seat the whole movie. I did have to close my eyes a couple seconds at some of the violent scenes, and I did cry some tears at the dramatic conclusion. But I did not sleep, and there was enough story to keep me from walking out on the violence.

    Iko Uwais is excellent. He is both handsome and better than any Hollywood actor in action films. Period. My heart really went out to him and his survival story.

    Yayan Ruhian was excellent. Of course, his hair style distinguishes him in this movie. I daresay that most Far East Asians look alike to me, and I’m not afraid to say that I can barely tell the Japanese and Indonesians apart, let alone the Indonesians themseles. I had a hard time telling who was who, and got confused on the story direction as a result. (That said, I did enjoy the throw-away joke line about white people!)

    Alex Abbad was distinguished as an Arab with his walking cane. But, after I realized that he looked like Bradley Cooper playing a “Saturday Night Fever”-like Italian-American using a chubby Hispanic as an Arab in “American Hustle,” I couldn’t take him seriously. I could pick him out in the movie, but he didn’t show typically Arab mannerisms, and I couldn’t take him too seriously.

    I loved the sign-language assassins. I see deaf students often on the subway in real life, and now I might be afraid of them.

    Just like American action heroes never seem to run out of bullets for their guns, the actors here never seem to run out of pints of blood; and, even after losing pints of blood, like Opera and classical drama, it takes a while for some characters to lose enough blood to die.

    I would agree with most of the previous comments.

  9. I saw this movie 4 times already.

  10. This movie is, quite simply put, AMAZING. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a better action movie, ever. EVER. And that includes The Raid: Redemption. The story was a bit bloated, I’ll say, but…it’s an action movie. I don’t really go to action movies for well-put-together story lines (just a personal preference, those it’s pleasant when they do have one). The deaf siblings were the greatest; I’ve never seen a pair of hammers and a baseball bat put to better use. I’ve already seen the film three times and I’m going again tonight. Can’t recommend it enough.

  11. I disagree with the review and I think the comments are spot on. I saw the film last night and it was easily just as good as The Raid: Redemption. I dont think it was better, but it was just as good. I only say this because of how unique the first film was. I can also easily see how people thought this one was better, and the action scenes were definitely cooler. There was brutal fight scenes and they were awesome. All of them. I loved the film, and my mind was just as blown as when I saw the first one. I thought all of the characters were blended perfectly, too.

  12. This review definitely speaks for me, eloquently so! Reading the mixed comments I think it all goes back to one’s expectation, and with sequels the lack of it -which imo is important in enjoying a movie – will be hard. Bloated as it is, i still find myself enjoying it very much and apprwciate the director’s creative and artistic approach.

  13. I think Mr. Outlaw hit the highs and the low points. I gave it a four, as opposed to his three, but I do feel that they could have trimmed the fat. Too many storylines, but the action was AMAZING (and that is what we were going to see.) I watched this the day after the Cap 2 release. The action in Raid 2 made Cap and Winter Soldier look like kindergarteners in a slap fight. I want Gareth Evans to direct Daredevil.

  14. I couldn’t disagree more with Yayan Ruhian being shoehorned in. His death, set up by the villainous son of the local crime family, was the catalyst for the father realizing his son had betrayed the family. It was action used to service not only plot, but character motivation. Hardly shoehorned. His plot with his wife and kids only serviced the story further to add sympathy for the audience when the father beat the hell out of his son, scars which he carried for the remainder for the film but also as a reminder of what he did to his father. Yayan Ruhian’s character was s metaphor for the larger reason of why people have to live such violent lives in the city. It’s often out of a larger circumstance which lead to the violence, like love of one’s family, in the first place. His death also, the feeling of betrayal, only deepened the theme found throughout the film.

    This movie was 5 stars. Complex, engrossing and filled with great character and thematic payoffs. The Raid was great. This makes me wonder what the Raid 3 will bring with great salivation.

    • was “a” metaphor. Not “s” metaphor. SCREENRANT. I LOVE YOU GUYS. But get an editing button. Sometimes typos slip through, even in a proof read.

  15. Also. One of the best car chases ever. When the car went through the building, and they show it from the inside, I looked over at my girlfriend who had a giant smile plastered across her face, completely enthralled at watching an actually car do actually things it shouldn’t do in real life. Thanks to Garth Evans for using as much practical effects as possible. It puts smiles on pretty girls faces. She also found the plot highly engrossing while having to also close her eyes for various scenes of violence that pretty much pushes what the words “hard-r” mean. Kudos, Mr. Evans.

  16. hammer girl stole my heart.

    I have never fallen so hard for a deaf girl with 2 bloody hammers
    and killing intent.

    and a big fan of her brother too.

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