‘The Raid 2:Berandal’ Is a Feast for Action Fans

Eric Bourse, Newsroom Manager

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British director Gareth Evans’ 2011 Indonesian action film, “The Raid: Redemption,” was a spectacle that awed audiences worldwide with its nonstop bone crunching fights. This year, Evans surpasses his sophomore effort with the super-sized sequel, “The Raid 2: Berandal.”

The film picks up two hours after the original, with Rama (Iko Uwais) going undercover as a prisoner named Yuma. His new boss wants him to befriend and earn the trust of his fellow prisoner, the hot-headed Uko (Arifin Putra), and infiltrate Uko’s father’s crime organization to reveal crooked police officers.

The original film’s greatest strengths were the fight scenes and “Berandal” is no exception. The sequel delivers about a dozen action scenes that give a visceral and even more dramatic experience than several martial arts films combined.

The cinematography and editing are other high quality aspects of the film. In a scene where Rama tries to protect Uko in a prison riot brawl in the mud,  the camera slowly zooms in on the brutal chaos from above and then cuts to the middle of the action.

Another standout scene is when the crime lord’s right hand man, Eko (Oka Antara), leads a high-speed pursuit to rescue Rama from a rival gang. The frantic action is perfectly captured by the blend of fast cuts and long takes that left the audience cheering for nearly the entire duration.

The soundtrack delivers a blend of orchestral, traditional Indonesian and intense electronic music that add to the scenes of drama and action.

The variety of colorful settings is a stark contrast to the drab hallways in “The Raid” and gives the sequel a much larger scope.

“Berandal” also improves where “The Raid” failed with a much more complex and impactful story and dialogue. The plot of an undercover cop joining a crime organization has been done several times before, such as 2006’s “The Departed,” however “Berandal” adds a more colorful cast of villains to join the mayhem. Yuma faces off with not only the legions of the crime world, but a trio of hired killers known as Hammer Girl, Baseball Bat Man, and the Assassin.

The sequel is much more of an ensemble piece with the inclusion of rising Indonesian stars Uwais, Putra, Antara, Julie Estelle and a number of veteran Japanese actors that make up the Yakuza.

While the story isn’t the most original, the film’s biggest weaknesses are a few scenes relentlessly violent, bordering on shock value. This isn’t a film for the faint of heart  — to say the least.

“The Raid 2: Berandal” is a sequel that is masterfully done. It builds upon the thrilling action of the first film by adding a variety of better actors, dialogue, settings, and cinematography. Evans is on his way to becoming an action genre household name among the ranks of James Cameron and John Woo.
The film is currently in limited release in Los Angeles and will be released nationwide on Friday. Rated R for sequences of strong bloody violence throughout, sexuality and language and runs 150 minutes.

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