“Raid 2” An Action Packed Crime War (Foreign Film Review)



It’s a knock down drag out fight to the finish in The Raid 2: Berandal a chopsocky film that unleashes nearly every known hand-to-hand fighting method in a period of two and a half hours.  The action crime film takes the viewer on a gut wrenching ride reminiscent of Jet Li in The Enforcer.  A continuation of the 2012 release, the film drags a bit, but still delivers a knock-out punch.

Beginning a couple hours following the attack on a drug lord’s bunker that occurred in The Raid: Redemption, Rama (Iko Uwais), one of the remaining members of the police strike force, gets called into the police station to report.  There he gets assigned to go underground in an attempt to take down a gang led by Bangun (Tio Pakusadewo) the king pin of a gang and his son Uco (Arifin Putra).

Rama (Iko Uwais)  defends himself in a prison yard

Rama (Iko Uwais) defends himself in a prison yard

To infiltrate him into the gang, the police stage a crime sending Rama to prison where he meets Uco who’s serving a short term. Rama saves his life during a fight in the yard and they start to become allies against the inmates. Rama gets released two years later where he joins with Uco in order to penetrate his gang.  As his right hand man, Rama starts to find out the workings of Bangun and his Japanese Mafia rival Goto (Kenichi Endo).  WhenRama’s brother gets killed by a gang member, he’s out for revenge on both gangs.

The film spools out quite different than The Raid: Redemption that took the world by storm with its relentless fighting against ruthless killers.  In that film it was truly a vertical rollercoaster ride of death and decapitation.  There was not much time to catch your breath before we found Rama up against another martial arts brute in a battle for his life.  Here however Writer/Director Gareth Evans returns with a more absorbing film and an elaborate story that plays out on a flat playing field.  Not what I was expecting and although it’s well directed, it’s not half the relentless action film of his first Outing.  If he is expecting to make this a franchise, he will have to come up with a film more like his first.

Rama (Iko Uwais) fights The  Assassin (Cecep Arif Rahman)

Rama (Iko Uwais) fights The Assassin (Cecep Arif Rahman)

That said I like the dark side of Rama that gets exposed in this sequel.  Evans takes Uwais to another place deep inside him as he turns into an animal out for revenge and in fear of his family in danger.  He’s a hellion on a bad day with moves that destroy his opposition.  His opponents and fellow warriors are even more diabolical than in The Raid: Redemption with killers like Baseball Bat Man (Very Tri Yulisman), Hammer Girl (Julie Estelle), The Assassin (Cecep Arif Rahman), splinter group leader Bejo (Alex Abbad) and Prakoso (Yayan Ruhian) among others.

The choreography and filming of the fights is brilliant with close-ups of all the action, crane shots showing different angles and hand held cameras blasting the fierceness off the screen. Well timed the fighters perform intricate moves that look very realistic showing the punishment that’s given in each battle.  Blood abounds with sword and knife slashes, bullet riddled bodies and dismemberment.  According to a source the final fight scene took a whole week to shoot.

Hammer Girl (Julie Estelle) faces off against the Japanese Mafia

Hammer Girl (Julie Estelle) faces off against the Japanese Mafia

The music plays a big part in the film much like in The Raid: Redemption.  The pounding Indonesian music using percussion instruments to show the impact of the fighting and the wild chase scenes add urgency and excitement to the production.  The sound guys and special sound effects crews were very busy with car chases, crashes, breaking bones and brutal impact punches.  In one scene with Hammer Girl in a railroad car, I swear I could hear her hammers impact the bodies of her aggressors.

The Raid 2: Berandal has been rated R for sequences of strong bloody violence throughout, sexuality and language. The film is shown in Indonesian and Japanese with English Subtitles. The subtitles fly by very fast, but most of the comments are depicted in their facial and body expressions.  This is NOT a film for the meek, naive, immature or romantics; trust me on this.

FINAL ANALYSIS: A smashing film for those who like their action with a lot of blood and guts. (B)

Additional Film Information:
Cast: Iko Uwais, Arifin Putra, Tio Pakusadewo, Julie Estelle, Very Tri Yulisman, Cecep Arif Rahman, Ryuhei Matsuda, Kenichi Endo, Yayan Ruhian
Directed by: Gareth Evans
Genre: Action, Crime, Thriller, Martial Arts, Foreign
MPAA Rating: R for sequences of strong bloody violence throughout, sexuality and language
Running Time: 2 hrs 30 min
Release Date: April 11, 2014
Distributed by: Sony Pictures Classics

You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.

Leave a Reply

Powered by WordPress