The Raid 2: Berandal-Review
By Justin Jasso (@jjasso007)
Ah, sequels. Do they ever really live up to the pinnacle that was the original? For most people, that answer would most likely be a “no”. But a production company would be silly not to follow up on the success of the original. After all, this is show business, with the main word being “business.” And business equates to money. So why would the people who brought us the Indonesian action film, The Raid: Redemption, make a sequel to their brutal, martial art extravaganza? Enter The Raid 2: Berandal.
To recap, The Raid: Redemption found police officer Rama, along with a small forces group, infiltrating an apartment-type complex full of bad guys, making their way to the top of the building to take out a crime lord. They come out successful… well, two of them come out. Enter The Raid 2: Berandal. A couple hours after the first film ends, we’re with Rama again where he’s meeting with the head of a covert police force. Rama is asked to go undercover in prison to get close to Ucok (Arifin Putra), the son of crime lord Bangun (Tio Pakusodewo). If he’s able to get in with this mob family, he can find who the corrupt officers are, which, in turn, will make the city a safe place by taking them out and protect his wife and child as well.
So into prison Rama goes, ending up spending a couple years locked down. But Ucok is able to get him out early, and Rama becomes an enforcer for Bangun. For a while things move along according to plan, but things soon start to spin out of control. Will Rama be able to maintain his cover and keep himself alive or will the various crime affiliates around him catch on to who he is and take him out?
The Raid: Redemption was 100 minutes long and known for its lethal fight sequences. It was an adrenaline rush from beginning to end. So when something works so well, what do you do? You add more of the same and make it longer, of course! The Raid 2: Berandal comes in at about 150 minutes (2.5 hours for those who don’t feel like doing math), and the action is definitely elevated. But the question comes in: does it really have to be that long? There are rare dull moments found in the film, but it does take some time to get the plot up and running efficiently. The first half tends to drag out a little as people are introduced and plots are being developed. The last two thirds of the film are where the real money is.
One may argue that The Raid series has arguably the best fight choreography in motion pictures. And what makes it earn such a distinction? The lack of anything remotely “unreal,” for one. These are fights you could actually visualize happening if people with such skill met. Plus the body mechanics and physiology demonstrated are right on point. But then, just for fun, they throw in a martial arts female (Julie Estelle) wielding her weapon of choice: a pair of hammers, and her baseball bat and ball-wielding boyfriend (Very Tri Yulisman). Then you pit Rama against an adversary (Donny Alamsyah) superior to himself just to up the ante. And the best part of the fight sequences is that CGI is nowhere to be found. This is all done by the actors/martial artists, making it that much more impressive.