Written, directed, and co-edited by Gareth Evans, The Raid 2: Berandal is the sequel to his 2011 film The Raid: Redemption that introduced the world to Iko Uwais. In Redemption, Uwais played a rookie cop who survived a botched raid against a drug lord. Picking up two hours after the events of the first film, Uwais’ character Rama is asked by an anti-corruption investigator to go undercover and infiltrate a drug syndicate in the middle of Jakarta. The timing could not be worse for Rama as a new crime boss named Bejo (played with gusto by Alex Abbad), eager to make a name for himself, is wreaking chaos in the region and disrupting the fragile peace between two other bosses.
The first film was memorable for both its premise and jaw-dropping action. It helped to bring the pencak silat style of Indonesian martial arts to a wider Western audience. In The Raid 2: Berandal, the action is broaden to more graphic detail and sets new heights for what can be achieved in action films in general. The film also provides a far more intriguing story than its predecessor. Rama is forced to ponder his role in this chaos as he watches the son of a crime boss, who he befriends, descend into a downward spiral.
What makes Gareth Evans’ film so unique this time around isn’t just the action sequences – including fights in a muddy prison square and a insane car-chase scene between Rama and a bunch of Bejo’s men – but also how they are filmed. Evans incorporates very impressive long takes and shaky hand-held camera work to create a truly intense experience. All of this is enhanced nicely by the phenomenal fight choreography work by Evans, Uwais, and Yayan Ruhian (who plays an aging assassin). The fight scenes are not just visceral in intensity, but are also engaging thanks in part to the martial artists the film employs.
Among the films’ standouts include Julie Estelle as the very lethal Hammer Girl, Very Tri Yulisman as her bat-wielding brother, and Cecep A. Rahman as an extremely dangerous unnamed assassin who carries Indonesian hand daggers known as kerambits. Their performances are fun and exciting to watch even when their fights get a bit gory. Another aspect of the film that should be noted is the visually striking cinematography by Matt Flannery and Dimas Imam Subhono. This is especially noticeable during the climax which takes place in the bar where Bejo works.
The Raid 2: Berandal is an outstanding film that really brings some new life into the action film genre. It is a film that fans of martial arts driven action flicks should see. Iko Uwais is a rising star who definitely proves his worth and more in this film. Filled with amazing action sequences, that will have you questioning “how did they do that?”, The Raid 2: Berandal is one ass-kicking film.
© thevoid99 2014