The Raid 2: Berandal Review

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When The Raid: Redemption was released in theaters, it was a hit among those who saw it in theaters. The realistic bloody martial arts action that Gareth Evans depicted in Redemption resulted in a lot of “oh my gods” and “holy shits” inside theaters. That’s why the ticket demand was so high for the sequel’s premiere at Sundance a few months ago. The Raid 2: Berandal boasted a bigger cast and a larger plot, and those who saw the screening at Sundance claimed that the film set a new standard for action films. A pretty bold claim, if you ask me.

So were the Sundance attendees right in crowning The Raid 2: Berandal as the new standard for action films? Well, yes and no. While The Raid 2: Berandal isn’t the non-stop action film as its predecessor, the film’s action sequences does tower over the competition with its over-the-top, yet convincing violence. Yet, the slow buildup during the first act of the film almost dampers this highly enjoyable film.

The Raid 2: Berandal continues the story of Rama, the protagonist of the first film, as he realizes that the opponents he killed in Redemption were nothing more than small fish in a large pond. His triumph over the small fry has attracted the attention of some dangerous people. Now with his family now at risk, Rama must go undercover and climb through the criminal underworld to take down the entire Jakartan mob.

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The Raid 2: Berandal possesses some of the most remarkable action sequences ever to be put on film, period. There’s nothing flashy about the action at all, mind you, but the technical level of the fight scenes is quite fantastic. Much like the original, Evans communicates the pain and impact of every punch, kick and bullet but this time on a much larger scale. Evans also adds more complexity to the fight choreography and tosses in a crowd-pleasing and intense car chase scene to boot. At times, the theater sounded similar to a crowd at a Roman gladiatorial match. Whenever a brutal kill was shown on screen, you’d hear plenty of oohs, ahhs and some clapping in the theater. Never in my life have I experienced a theater experience like that before and that’s special.

Just don’t expect the action in The Raid 2: Berandal to be as non-stop as the original. The original, while amazing, had a simple storyline, which resulted in non-stop action from beginning to end. The Raid 2: Berandal, on the other hand, has a more complex storyline. The film has multiple subplots and various supporting characters and, as a result, we get a lot of breaks in between the action sequences.

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The characters in the film are just as memorable as the action sequences themselves. The new characters, even the supporting ones, are all compelling and equally important to the film. Baseball Bat Man and Hammer Girl, despite limited dialogue and screen time, are two of the most memorable characters in the movie.

Unfortunately, as enjoyable as the film was, the film’s first act just seemed to drag. It felt both schizophrenic and inconsistent and is essentially a prolonged buildup to the action-packed second and final act. Fortunately, there are three intense action sequences that should mesmerize audiences but it’s the in-betweens that might frustrate moviegoers. Also, a few of the subplots established during the first act of the film are left unresolved, which makes a lot of the film’s buildup practically irrelevant.

But despite my issues with the first act, The Raid 2: Berandal is a gory, balls to the wall action extravaganza that every action film fans should watch. The memorable characters and larger grandiose action sequences are what makes Berandal a better film than Redemption. Essentially, Gareth Evans pulled off the impossible and surpassed his original classic.

If you get a chance to see the film in theaters, I suggest you do, just for the audience’s reaction alone. It’s quite an experience to behold.

Grade: A-

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Mark Pacis
Mark Pacis 1487 posts

Self-proclaimed "Human IMDb" and comic book geek. Biggest Iron Man fan you'll probably ever meet.