Review of The Raid 2: Berandal

Got a chance to see “The Raid 2: Berandal” at The Little last night. I saw the first in this series “The Raid: Redemption” and enjoyed it. The second film was also incredible, and quite different from the first. I recommend you go check it out, because this is one of those films you want to see on a large screen. If you live in Rochester I would recommend seeing it sooner rather than later. The Little is going to stop airing it on Thursday for reasons that are unclear to me.

Now that I’ve lost about 75% of you let’s talk details. The film was incredible, the fight scenes were crisp and well-choreographed, and unlike the first film it had a plot (although it was somewhat difficult to follow). The only real issue I had with the first film was that I thought it was somewhat mindless. Don’t get me wrong, I love going to see mindless action films so I give them a lot of credit for creating a film where the subtitles were entirely unnecessary. You don’t need to read the subtitles at all to watch the first film to understand what’s going on… which was refreshing.

The second film differs from the first in its complexity. The film picks up two hours after the first one (a fun factoid I didn’t know until doing some research). We follow Rama (Yuda) as he goes to prison (where there are awesome mud fighting scenes). In prison befriends a local gang leader’s son; which is part of an elaborate rouse to get close to the leader and help rid the city of dirty cops. This was a part of the film that I didn’t quite understand. He needs to get close to a crime boss to take down dirty cops? The plot kind of reminded me of the film “Serpico” with Al Pacino. Except imagine if Serpico knew martial arts and wasn’t a whiny bitch… then you get Rama.

Whatever, let’s not dwell on the details. In this film the plot is somewhat dense so I found myself bewildered at times when I didn’t grasp the significance of what was happening. This was my only real gripe with this movie. Also sometimes the subtitles (in white) were difficult to read on the lighter backgrounds.

The actor who plays Rama is Iko Uwais who is an Indonesian martial arts champion. He is incredible as are most of the other actors. The fight scenes are incredible and he kicks more ass than anyone I’ve ever seen on screen. From the first scene in the prison bathroom stall to the final scene in the kitchen this guy was on point. Additionally he didn’t do anything that I couldn’t believe a human could do. Sure he moved faster than almost anyone I’ve ever seen, but I bought it. I mean shit if Floyd Mayweather can do this (to a professional no less) than anything is possible:

Pardon my French but did you see that shit? Floyd caught Ricky Hatton with a left hook as Hatton was coming in. It happened so fast that Floyd was able to throw his “counter” before Hatton had thrown his punch; incredible stuff. Anyhow enough Mayweather circle jerk for the time being.

It isn’t just Uwais though; I was also impressed by Julie Estelle as well as Yayan Ruhian who plays the old man in the film. Additionally there was a character with a baseball bat that was brilliant. I don’t want to give away everything but just pay particular attention to his arrival. Julie Estelle is the female actress with the hammers, who was remarkable (the train scene will knock your socks off). Yayan Ruhian played the part of the Mad Dog in the first film and in the second he played Prakoso an elderly hit man for the Bangun family. There was one particularly memorable scene where, wielding a Machete Ruhian fights through seven or eight goons. He finishes off his final victim by stabbing him so hard he punctured the wood fence behind him. I squirmed with glee as he slowly removed the machete and the camera shows him walking away through the hole he created in the fence. Quite a unique shot, that made me appreciate the director’s attention to detail.

All in all this was the best film I’ve seen all year. Let me know what you people thought in the comments below. As always I’ll include some reviews below that agreed with me:

Boston Globe

Philly.com

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