Posted June 26, 2014 by Yuri Mangahas in Movies/TV

MOVIE REVIEW: The Raid 2 – A Visual Poetry of Violence

Poster Art By: JOCK

The Raid: Redemption indeed may have set the standard for future martial-arts films. Its over-the-top choreography, high-octane action sequences, in your face gore, as well as its finely structured plot elevated the said movie to cult-status, gaining acclaim and a steady following in the process. The Raid 2: Berandal on the other hand, lives on its long shadow.

While it is true that it packs a bigger scope as well as an ambitious plot, it still pales in comparison to the first one. However, that does not imply that Gareth Evans failed to bring his A-game. It’s a two and a half hour showcase of what he is best at, something we can put to consideration.

The Raid 2 picks up the story two hours after the end of Redemption. Following the advice of his brother Andi, Rama enlists the help of a veteran cop named Bunawar. Now that the underworld’s up on his heels, he decides to partake on a mission to infiltrate it from within, in an attempt to discover the true core of corruption that plagues the streets of Jakarta.

Perhaps the biggest strength that this movie has would be its action sequences. The set pieces are amazing, the fight sequences are frantic and choreographed with finesse, and there’s a larger sense of scale this time(as demonstrated by that prison riot segment). Each scene’s executed with style and direction never seen in other martial arts movies. Evans has created a trademark of his own with The Raid series, bringing sophistication and artistry to the genre. It’s not just a flick with people punching the hell out of each other, but rather a showcase of violence beautifully crafted in every bit of it.

Here’s the problem though: Not all action sequences are necessary nor has an actual connection to the plot. Moreso, some parts of the story are disjointed and did not contribute to the emanating theme of the movie. It would seem that the writing’s been compromised in lieu of focusing on fight choreo. This is where Redemption surpasses Berandal – the former’s storyline is self-contained, and is not a busy one, whereas the latter has a lot of branching plots that it becomes convoluted later on. There is no proper character support, and I did not feel any connection with anyone at all. A perfect example of it would be Yayan Ruhian’s Prakoso(you might remember him as Mad Dog in the first one). The guy was shoehorned to the movie and given a short backstory of his own to explain his motivations for joining the underworld. However, it does not leave a bearing to the actual plot and felt forced to say the least.

See, Prakoso is angry. The mad, kind of angry.

The cast’s performance makes it up for the lack(or flawed sense) of story. The acting’s solid, and some of the newcomers provide gravitas to their roles. Tio Pakusodewo’s portrayal of Bangun is spot on, and his character is an interesting antagonist to follow. Iko Uwais has been given more scenes this time, and proves himself as an effective actor. Julie Estelle’s Hammer Girl may not say much(actually, she didn’t at all), but she’s bound as a fan-favorite(here’s to hoping for a Hammer Girl flick). The physical game has been upped a notch as well, and the cast are all but up for it, despite the extraneous sequences Uwais and Ruhian brought to the plate.

In conclusion, The Raid 2 is a thrilling ride from start to finish. The story may not do as much, but its beautifully crafted action sequences are enough to set a mark.

7 Out Of 10 Blades!

Yuri Mangahas

Yuri is magnanimously juggling between two managerial jobs: A technical manager position for an advertising/copy-writing company, and an associate editorial position for a fashion and lifestyle magazine. Nevertheless, he still finds time taking photos and seeking for geek nirvana.