After the success of 2011’s The Raid Redemption, action movies would never be the same again.  Since its release, Hollywood has gone on to borrow many of the sequences that made Gareth Evans‘ The Raid Redemption such a uniquely hard hitting action movie.  The film blew audiences away, and was done with a micro budget.  While the action was revolutionary for the industry, the scale of the original was forced to be kept small.  While the contained setting in the original was part of the charm, it was Evans’ intention to make the first film much larger, they just didn’t have the budget.  Following its success, the budget allowed him to continue telling his crime saga.  The scale of The Raid 2: Berandal is huge, and while the budget is higher than the first film, compared to the typical Hollywood action movie, it’s still a tiny  budget.  Evans has created The Godfather 2 of organized crime martial arts action films, and the results are an exhilarating two and a half hours, that plunge the audience into the depths of the most sinister Indonesain crime syndicates.

The film begins with a man being killed in a corn field by rising gangster Bejo (Alex Abbad).  The story jumps back approximately one year, as Rama (Iko Uwais), our protagonist from the original, has just escaped from the apartment complex in Jakarta with corrupt cop Wahyug.  Rama is confronted by special agents, who catch him up to speed on the details of the corruption within the system, and that his brother Andi was the one killed by Bejo.  Using this as leverage, the officers persuade Rama to go undercover in the prison to take down all the corruption that has infested both organized crime and the police.  Rama’s plan is to get in with the heir to the crime family’s syndicate, the son known as UCO (Arifin Putra).  After gaining UCO’s trust, Rama embarks on a quest to take down the major crime syndicates plaguing Indonesia.

The Raid 2: Berandel is an incredibly ambitious film that is more than just entertaining for its entirety, it’s exhausting.  By now, Gareth Evcans has to be one of the biggest names floating around the big studios, after showing he is the best in the game, and can do it with a modest budget.  The Raid 2 is the hardest hitting film I had ever seen, both hyper-violent and beautifully shot.  By the end I was exhausted, as will everyone who goes through the journey Rama endures.  The fight choreography was insane, and the violence added to the shock of the fight scenes.  Each fight scene was shot differently, and featured its own unique elements.  Whether the were fighting in the car or in a muddy prison corridor, each scene is brilliantly thought out and effective in keeping the audience off balance.  Just when you think you know how something will end, BAM, something absolutely brilliant happens.  Each punch felt real, each cut felt deep, and each klick hurt like hell.  The sequel took everything from the original and improved on it,  not only by making it bigger, but by making it more intricate and thought out.  It also didn’t hurt that the story was an intriguing study into the Indonesian and Japanese mafia.

The Raid 2: Berandal provides a much richer and detailed story than the original.  One of the critiques of the original was its screenplay, or lack thereof.  I don’t necessarily agree with those claims, but the Raid 2 fixes any concerns one may have with the script.  The screenplay is sharp, and the story is interesting, all the way until the credits roll.  There isn’t just one “bad guy”, there are a ton.  Rama buries himself into a dirty world, and the audience is right there alongside.  The actors are incredible, as most if not all come from martial arts backgrounds.  Theres just something different about actors with martial arts training that sets them apart from your typical Hollywood actors.  It provides the director the ability to not cut the fight scene (for stunt work or to hide an actor who isn’t a convincing fighter), and lets them gets unique shots they wouldn’t have otherwise been able to get.  Besides the fighting, the actors can actually act, and are compelling and complex characters.

With the Raid 2, Gareth Evans has outdone the original in every way, again showing him as the best action directors currently making movies.  He has crafted a two and half hour crime epic, with some of the best fight and action scenes seen in a long time.  The Raid 2: Berandal is a special film, but won’t be for everyone.  Iko Uwais is incredible as Rama, and by the end of the film you will feel as exhausted as he should be.  It’s an incredible film, with unparalleled acting, and surely to be imitated for the next couple of years-or at least until Evans releases his intense third part to the series to complete the trilogy.  The Raid 2 is under the conscious radar, but is a film every action junkie needs to see.  The rich story, compelling characters, and beautifully choreographed fight scenes make up one of the best martial arts films yet, and while you may not recognize any names, the actors’ performances are insane and help complete this violent look into the Indonesian crime syndicates.

The Raid 2 Berandal stars Iko Uwais, Arifin Putra, Oka Antara, Tio Pakusadewo, Alex Abbad, Julie Estelle, and is now playing in theaters nationwide.

About the Author

Peter Towe
Peter Towe
A graduate of UMASS Boston, I have successfully put off getting a "real" job, and continue to watch, produce, review, and obsess over movies. I lived in Boston while I completed my degree, and now live in Chicago trying the improv thing.