The Raid 2: Berandal (2014)

Director: Gareth Evans

Starring: Iko Uwais, Julie Estelle, Yayan Ruhian, Donny Alamsyah, Arifin Putra, Oka Antara, Tio Pakusodewo, Alex Abbad, Cecep Arif Rahman, Ryûhei Matsuda, Ken'ichi Endô, Very Tri Yulisman, Marsha Timothy, Epy Kusnandar, Cok Simbara

First thing, is this movie better than the Raid – Redemption? Yes, but will qualifications. I have seen a large amount of martial arts and action movies and still had hard time getting through some of the scenes. The audience I saw it with seemed to be similar, but even they were wincing and laughing out of nervousness as there was nowhere else to go.

The story as with the first film is not really the most important thing here, you can pretty much see what is going to happen. Even the film does telegraph its punches, doesn’t mean that they do not still hurt.

Beginning two hours after the events of the previous film Rama (Iko Uwais) is asked to go undercover into prison so he can get close to crime boss’ son Uco (Arifin Putra). He refuses, but changes his mind after his brother is killed by minor crime boss Bejo (Alex Abbad).

The opening is shown in flashback as Rama is hiding in a toilet that is having the door pounded upon by a gang. Yeah, that’s very cute having the screws wind out of the door, but if you have seen a dunny door being kicked in it doesn’t work like that. Cue a brutal fight and people ending up in a pile inside the toilet cubicle.

There was a complication when Rama was arrested and he ends up serving years rather than months. He helps Uco out in a major fight in the exercise yard when they are both almost killed and ends up best buddies.

Finally getting to meet the mob boss father Bangun (Tio Pakusodewo) and his right hand man Eka (Oka Antara), he is allowed to stay, but has to start at the bottom of the organization.

Bangun’s organization has had a peace deal with the Japanese crime lord crime lord Goto (Ken'ichi Endô) for ten years, but there are nefarious dealings going on with lower level members that are trying to set the two sides against each other so they wipe each other out and a new power will take over.

The first film was famous for its body count and this film manages to be even more extreme with people not only being punched and kicked into the shape of human Tetris blocks, they also manage to fall on the most painful thing each time, ouch!

It is so over the top I don’t really know where they are going to go after this. All the punches and kicks shown on screen are real and the fight choreography by Yayan Ruhian, Larnell Stovall and Iko Uwais is exceptional.

I don’t really want to spoil the fight scenes, but each one feels very unique and has a different meaning within the story. The final showdown is just that, with only the part with the shotguns feeling a bit iffy.

This film was actually planned before the first movie, but difficulties with finance meant the first film went ahead as it was easier to shoot in one location. The first scenes took months to plan and shoot and the stunt actors had to train together for at least six months to get up to the level that produce they results they wanted on screen.

The car stunts are also great by Bruce Law and Yee Man Law and where a new thing for the film as it was originally envisioned without that sequence. The director infamously was almost killed whilst shooting the car chase sequence (http://twitpic.com/cv0ltn) so you would want it to have worked.

For fans of the character of Mad Dog from the first film, the actor Yayan Ruhian returns as the hired killer Prakaso who also gets his own back story and a reasonable on screen running time. You wouldn’t normally find that in an action film, but if you stay for the credits you will once again see unique stunt extras star in each and every fight with no repeats.

Bejo’s trio of killers also deserve a mention and can be seen hanging out with the gang when they are not fighting, which is nice to see. Hammer Girl (Julie Estelle) is the poster girl for the movie and was also the focus of some pre-release PR with people being sent fake bloody hammers. Her scene is very brutal and hard to watch at points. I can see how it was based on Oldboy and then they wanted to one-up it by using two hammers and also having her use the hook end to slash people

Baseball Bat Man (Very Tri Yulisman) is an interesting character and even has his own line “give me back my ball”. As with the rest of the fight scenes being hit even once with a baseball bat causes people serious injuries, but I am not sure about the superhuman strength part with hitting the ball.

The Assassin (Cecep Arif Rahman) is treated as the “final boss” of the movie and also a Silat master that even Rama respects. When they square off in the kitchen you can see they want to have a fair fight as Rama was knocked out when they first met. They both push each other to the limit and it really could have been either of them who could have won the fight.

The film crosses into horror/slasher territory several times with many of the deaths of the bad guys as the violence is very brutal. Someone gets half their face burnt off and they show the outcome of it. In the prison exercise yard someone’s face ends up as a right angle when they fall on a wall, arms, legs and necks get broken and it looks really violent even with everything covered in mud.

It is a very serious film and any humour is unintentional or very black like the woman appearing wearing a strap on. I don’t even know why they needed to include that part, seems strange. Most of the laughter seemed to be a nervous reaction from the audience who didn’t really have anywhere else to go, there may have been some hysterical laughter at one point.

While the movie was a very visceral and challenging experience, I would struggle to recommend it unless you have seen the first one and are prepared for how violent it is going to be. Forget the fantasy violence of Tarantino or even the heroic bloodshed of Hong Kong cinema, this right in your face straight from the opening and quite the test of endurance to sit through with its extended running time. It might be better to watch this one on DVD so you can have a rest after some of the scenes or just leave it and come back later when you feel like watching it.


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