In 2011, an Indonesian film called "The Raid: Redemption" was released. In that, a group of elite policemen, including rookie Rama, conducts a raid on this dilapidated apartment building in Jakarta to apprehend a notorious crime lord.
This film shocked action film fans with its audacity for unbridled violence, and they erupted in unanimous praise. Its director Gareth Evans was already being hailed as a genius, with his innovative and realistic fight scenes, which did not let up on the gore.
This sequel is called "The Raid 2: Berandal." While the first film was over in a quick hour and a half, this second one was an hour longer in its running time. Compared to the first where the flimsy story seemed just a mere excuse for all the action scenes to take place, this sequel takes its time to tell a more substantial story of police corruption within rival criminal gangs. But similar to its predecessor, the fight action, violence and gore did not let up, from the very first frame up to the explosive finale.
Rama is back, recruited to penetrate a big-time local gang undercover to investigate policemen under its payroll by gaining the trust of Uco, the son of the kingpin, Bangun. Uco is impatient to gain a bigger role in their organization, so he associates himself with a rival gangster, Bejo, to rile up conflict against another rival Japanese gang. As these criminals work under a constant cloud of mistrust and Uco's plans implode, Rama has to fight to free himself out of the violent web spun around him.
From the gun and knife fights we saw from the first film, this second film ups the ante even more. There are supporting killers who use the most outlandish weapons, like hammers, a baseball bat and scythes. There are big fight scenes in very confined spaces such as a sedan or a train car, as there were in the streets of Jakarta and in a prison yard. Blood is generously splattering or flowing as usual, purposely made to contrast with the pale brown mud or a white kitchen floor.
The lead star Iko Uwais is as awesome a martial arts action star as he was in the first film as Rama. He was really put through the wringer in both films with all of the punishing superhuman routines he was made to do. He definitely pulls all of these exhilarating scenes off spectacularly with his impressive fighting skills.
As the main antagonist, Arifin Putra does very well also. He was very cool there in that scene where Uco was slicing necks like it was nothing. His striking half-Caucasian features enhance his viciousness. Tio Pakusodewo was very good as Uco's father and gang leader Bangun. That scene where father and son were arguing about Uco's dishonorable behavior was very well acted out by both actors.
One of the most memorably long fight scenes in the first film was that of Rama with a character named Mad Dog, played by Yayan Ruhian. In this sequel, Yayan again makes an appearance as another marked character Prakoso, a Bangun loyalist who was set up to be killed by Japanese gangsters. Again, Yayan's mixed martial arts skills were in full display.
"The Raid 2" is a very worthy sequel to an excellent first film. Conservatives might not approve of the brazen display of realistic violence, but hardcore action film fans will cheer for sure. Your adrenaline will be kept pumping by the relentless action scenes. A third episode is already in the works and so much anticipation is already brewing for that one. 8/10
This review was originally published in the author's blog, "Fred Said."