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THE RAID 2: BERANDAL Review - Sundance ’14

Writer/Director: Gareth Evans

Cast: Iko Uwais, Yayan Ruhian, Arifin Putra, Oka Antara, Tio Pakusadewo, and Alex Abbad

Story and Direction

In the Raid 2: Berandal, writer-director Gareth Evans sets a new bar for action movies by taking the groundbreaking fight choreography of the first movie to greater heights with bigger set pieces, badder villains, and bolder, more inventive action sequences that will leave you reeling.

Fans of the self-contained first movie — about a S.W.A.T. team who must fight their way through a drug-lord’s safe house — have much more to sink their teeth into – action and story wise – in the sequel. Picking up moments after the events of The Raid, The Raid 2 finds rookie Officer Rama forced to go undercover to infiltrate an organized crime syndicate.

With a clearly bigger budget this time around, the scope, cinematography, and breathtaking camerawork they were able to achieve is on par with even bigger budgeted blockbusters like Chris Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy. Without any big-name stars or shameless product placement getting in the way, you’re allowed to be completely sucked into this world of organized crime, revenge, redemption, and of course, fighting… lots of fighting.

Performances

Iko Uwais is back as our protagonist Rama, only this time he’s given much more to do physically, as well as dramatically. With his work in these two Raid films alone, Uwais’ name deserves to be up there with modern martial arts greats like Jet Li and Tony Jaa. Arifin Putra gives a breakout performance as the incarcerated son of the mob boss that Rama must get close to. Putra looks like a cross between the late Brandon Lee and a young Bruce Campbell. Since he speaks English with a perfect American accent, I'd expect to see him in some English language films in the near future.

The rest of the cast also does an amazing job, although a couple of the more cartoony characters (combined with the sheer length and brutality of some of the fights) eat away at some of the film's believability -- though they do establish early on almost superhero-like strength from Rama when he uses his prison cell wall as a punching bag.

Similar To

With Evans reuniting his superbly skilled cast (even reusing actors who played characters that died in the first film), this sequel is obviously like the first, just on a much larger scale. There are plenty more twists and turns in the story, as well, with the plot having elements similar to The Departed and Donnie Brasco.

Chances You’ll See it in Theaters

The film was developed and will be distributed by Sony Pictures, so obviously you’ll get to see this highly anticipated sequel. The question is, what version will you get to see in theaters? The violence in this movie is so graphic and unforgiving that people trickled out of the screening I was in after particularly violent scenes. I don’t know how the cut we saw wouldn’t get slapped with an NC-17 rating. Considering its 148-minute run time, it will probably get trimmed down anyway. Our guess is that U.S. audiences will get a cut-down theatrical version of the film, and an “unrated” Blu-ray edition.

Official Synopsis

Immediately following the events of the original, The Raid 2 tracks Officer Rama as he is pressured to join an anticorruption task force to guarantee protection for his wife and child. His mission is to get close to a new mob boss, Bangun, by befriending his incarcerated son, Uco. Rama must hunt for information linking Bangun with corruption in the Jakarta Police Department while pursuing a dangerous and personal vendetta that threatens to consume him and bring his mission—and the organized crime syndicate—down around him.

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