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The Raid 2: Berandal - Movie Poster
Original Title:
The Raid 2: Berandal

Indonesia 2014

Action, Crime

Gareth Evans

Iko Uwais
Arifin Putra
Tio Pakusodewo
Oka Antara
Alex Abbad
Cecep Arif Rahman
Kenichi Endo
Ryuhei Matsuda
Cecep Arif Rahman
Julie Estelle
Very Tri Yulisman
Roy Marten

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The Raid 2: Berandal

Story: Rama (Iko Uwais) learns that his brother has been killed by the aspiring gangster Bejo (Alex Abbad). He wants to take revenge, but runs into a cop, who talks him into going undercover in order to not only take out Bejo, but also a whole network of gangster bosses. To achieve this Rama deliberately goes into prison where he makes friends with Uco (Arifin Putra), the son of mob boss Bangun (Tio Pakusodewo). Rama saves Uco's life in prison and after both having served their sentences Uco introduces him to his father. Rama now works for Bangun and finds out that Uco thinks his father should build his power more on fear than on respect. Uco and his father find themselves in dispute about this over and over again, until Bejo sees his chance to form an alliance. He wants to help Uco disempower his father. For this a war is to be sparked between Bangun and Goto (Kenichi Endo), the leader of a Japanese gangster organisation in town, that centers around the power balance in the different territories. In the upcoming war Rama is caught right in the middle.

Review: After the big success of "The Raid" it was a sure thing that the sequel had to be bigger and better. But that's where problems arise in this action fest. Bigger doesn't necessarily equal better. But more about that a little bit later. Nonetheless, "The Raid 2" proves to be a well-achieved sequel, in which director Gareth Evans even took the criticism of the first part to heart and implemented more story and less poorly written dialogue. Furthermore, the action once again works on an unrelenting level. The focus lying more on the plot this time leads to the movie moving along a bit slower than the first installment, though, and adding to that a running time of 150 minutes seems a bit too long. Still, for martial arts fans this film is a must-see. On the other hand you also have to be a fan of this art to appreciate the action in "The Raid 2".

The Raid 2: Berandal - Film Screenshot 11

This time the story takes on quite epic proportions and also mixes a bit of "Election" or "Outrage" into the action. Granted, you don't get anything new here, but the plot revolving around betrayal and vengeance is told effectively enough for us not to simply look forward to the next action scene. Contrary to the first part the actors work in favor to the screenplay, too. Iko Uwai's himself hasn't turned into a character actor over night, but that's fine. Instead Arifin Putra manages to convince as the power hungry son of a mob boss. That his desire for power slowly consumes him and has its origin in a problematic father-son relationship is conveyed in an appealing manner and carries the story well enough.

The Raid 2: Berandal - Film Screenshot 12

Apart from that Tio Pakusodewo manages to ooze out the necessary authority and temperateness that an experienced gangster boss should show. Oka Antara has some good moments as well when he, against expectations, joins forces with Rama for some time. The story is fueled by the relationships among the characters and at least this is put onto screen well. However, because of this the movie lacks the claustrophobic and gritty mood created by the building of the first part. Of course, "The Raid 2 - Berandal" (Berandal means "gangster", by the way) still remains nihilistic in its core, but this on a bigger scale, in the shape of a gangster ballad. Accordingly, the sequel has been streamlined for the taste of a wider audience, making the film look more international and spectacular - at the expense of originality.

Let's finally get to the action. Gareth Evans knows how to capture Pencak Silat in all of its straightforwardness, brutality, but also elegance. Particularly his innovative camera angles and camera work bestow something special upon the action. At some point this is a camera that captures things upside-down as someone goes to the ground in a fight, just to go back into nomal position when the combatant stands up again, or at other times the camera moves freely in a fight and thus gives the action scenes a lot of dynamic. No, there isn't anything to criticize in technical respects. The pictures are polished and the action is nicely choreographed. The final fight in the kitchen, for example, took ten days to shoot, but this effort clearly was worth all the trouble as it stands as the movie's highlight. And Iko Uwai's once more proves his skills.

The Raid 2: Berandal - Film Screenshot 13

What more could you ask for? Maybe a car chasing scene? You get that as well. Surprisingly, even this chase is shot pretty well, but once more makes you wonder if the sequel actually isn't aiming for action fans that don't care about martial arts that much. Yet, the movie remains rather unique, as the action is pretty brutal, even to such a degree that some of the scenes had to be cut and yet you still think to see every detail. Tough action, a somewhat epic gangster story: So what is there to nag about? Maybe it's just that the wow-effect of the first installment or the dark setting is missing, but the first movie still seems to be the better one despite more cinematic flaws. Nonetheless, Gareth Evans deserves praise for the sheer amount of (blood and) sweat he put into his movie and action fans surely will get their money's worth. For martial arts fans "The Raid 2: Berandal" is certainly a must-see.

(Author: Manfred Selzer)
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