“The Raid 2 : Berandal” Review – A Bigger And Better Martial Arts Experience

This movie, man.  This movie.

The Raid : Redemption was a 2012 martial arts movie filmed in the Philippines and directed by Welsh filmmaker Gareth Evans. And it was one of the best movies of that year and one of the best action movies made in at least the past 10 years. And now The Raid : Redemption looks pretty quaint in comparison to it’s sequel.

This movie is much bigger and improves upon every aspect of the previous one. The first one had a pretty simplistic plot and characters, the second one has a more complicated plot and stronger characterization. The level of acting was completely fine in the first one but in the second one there are stronger performances by the returning actors as well as several new ones including Takashi Miike regular Kenichi Endo and the Nightmare Detective, Ryuhei Matsuda as members of a yakuza family in Jakarta. And with the larger cast and resources, you a lot more action scenes in a large variety of locations and circumstances.

While I don’t want to give away too much of the story, because it has a lot of frequent twists, the basic premise is this: The main character of the previous movie is sent deep undercover in the criminal underworld of Jakarta to find evidence of the link between organized crime and corruption in the higher ranks of the police force and ends up being sucked in to a highly destructive gang war caused by a conspiracy.

Iko Uwais, who plays Rama, the main character, was a pretty generic boyscout-ish good cop who also happened to be some kind of god of fighting. In the second one he’s still the least corrupt person but he does show more acting chops. He makes a pretty convincing thug and throughout the events of the movie his performance does show that Rama is getting tired of the constant fighting not just physically but also mentally because it’s now consuming his whole life.

Arifin Putra plays Uco, the son of the mob boss Rama works for, and is really good at playing this slimy, arrogant spoiled idiot who you want to punch in the face and is a pretty effective villain alongside Bejo,  a mysterious crippled gangster with a small army of assassins at his disposal.

But that’s not what you want to hear about? You want to hear about the awesome fighting, right? Yeah!!

Oh man. This movie has some of the best fights I’ve ever seen in a martial arts movie. Like, the hallway fight and the last fight between the brothers and Mad Dog in the first movie were great fights but pretty much every fight in this movie is like those but better. You have Iko Uwais versus dozens of angry thugs armed with anything pointy or heavy enough in tight spaces, large rooms and open areas. You have several one on one fights with crazy and awesome assassin characters, with the final one on one being the most brutal kitchen fight since Riki-Oh.

Yayan Ruhian, who played Mad Dog in the first movie, returns as a different but very similar character and has two amazing action scenes. Julie Estelle and Very Tri Yulisman play two assassin siblings credited as Hammer Girl and Baseball Bat Man, who are insane and awesome murder machines and Cecep Arif Rahman as “The Assassin”, who I won’t say anything about besides “oh my god I can’t this fight is too good oh shiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiit yooooooooooooooo”.

There’s also a really great car chase with cars flipping and crashing and people shooting each other  that is destructive enough but doesn’t turn in to a boring car spectacle like in A Good Day to Die Hard or the new Need for Speed movie.

So yeah. I think you should watch the first one and then find the nearest place where they’re showing The Raid 2 : Berandal and watch it. Several times. It’s the best martial arts movie in decades and shows what actual talent behind and in front of the camera with actual work ethic can do and puts the mediocre results of bloated budgets and overproduced focus tests of Hollywood to shame.

The Raid 2 : Berandal official poster

The Raid 2 : Berandal is in theaters now and you need to pay real cash money to see it because I don’t think you’ll see a better martial arts explosion on the big screen in a long time.