Immediately following the original classic The Raid: Redemption a.k.a Serbuan Maut at its very core, The Raid 2: Berandal ends up establishing itself as a helluva sequel and a more complex expansion to its predeccessor. Clocking one hour longer than the prequel, this film adds not only fair portion of drama but also more explosive actions that complexly craft the plot. For people who hate action movies—it’s simply a hell; yet, for the rests—it’s a paradise of action set pieces.
The film opens with a (soon-to-be-usual) murder that purposively resets the whole perspective of the first film. It continues to the scene where Rama (Iko Uwais) encounters Bunawar (Cok Simbara)—a special task-force leader mentioned by his brother in the previous film. Bunawar asks Rama to join his force as he explains that Tama, the villain of the first film, is only a small kingpin who works for a bigger kingpin Bangun (Tio Pakusadewo). Bunawar insists Rama that they have to trap the real big fish as well as corrupted cops who work for them.
This scheme requires Rama’s going undercover and getting imprisoned to approach Bangun’s son, Uco (Arifin Putra). In a flash, Rama catches Uco’s attention after several prison riots—including the mud scene (as shown in the trailer) which turns out becoming one of the most brutally fantastic scene in this film. When Uco’s attention is glued to Rama, Uco introduces our man to his father. Working for Bangun, Rama immediately becomes a top enforcer in Bangun’s frontline.
It is revealed soon that half of the city is ruled by Bangun and the other half is ruled by Japanese Yakuza led by Goto (Kenichi Endo). Things gone sour when an upstart gangster leader Bejo (Alex Abbad) comes to break the 10-year cease-fire between Bangun and Goto by exploiting Uco’s ambition for his father’s recognition. When the mob war starts to explode, Rama is pulled down into the vortex of crisis that forces him to blur the line between good and bad.
Different from the predecessor’s straightforward plot, this sequel is indeed more complex and complicated. Not only once it lost the main focus—as it becomes a little talkie in the first act and exposes all the conflicts immediately in the following act but leaves some conflicts unsolved in the end. In some parts, I might say that The Raid 2 is a crossover of The Godfather and Internal Affairs—involving mob drama and dilemma of undercover cops—with more artistic, pulverizing and bone-crashing action set pieces. The plot is crafted by multi-layered stories; yet, what clearly devices the plot of this film is the action set pieces as they dictate the flow of the story—proving that Gareth Evans is a real savant of action flick.
Beautifully choreographed action scenes build the story—none of us are meaningless. Judged as an ultra-violent picture, I found it extremely jaw-dropping as it has already topped action pack in The Raid: Redemption—and it has set the ideal action film to a higher standard that might be difficult to follow: the toilet fighting, the prison mud, the train madness, the snow fighting (yes! there is snow in Jakarta), the car chasing, the raid, and all—they’re just being too original and too brutal to miss.
I personally bestow my praise to the production design, cinematography, costume design, and scoring for realistically rediscovering Jakarta and for stunningly build the atmosphere of the film. The Raid 2 introduces many new faces at once—extremely risky, but savvy. Some new characters look comical, but they have their swagger—as we see silent Alicia a.ka Hammer Girl (amazing Julie Estelle), his brother Baseball Bat Man (Very Tri Yulisman), and The Assassin (Cecep Arif Rahman—who almost tops Yayan Ruhian’s Mad Dog) from Bejo’s legions; Prakoso (portrayed by Yayan Ruhian), Bangun’s hitman with strong family issue, and Eka (Oka Antara), Bangun’s consigliere who leads to the deeper layer of the story; and the Japanese Yakuza whose leaders bear too little portion. There is visible improvement in the acting department; moreover, we can see an ensemble of Indonesian best faces here—an all-star department of young and old generation.
Only people who haven’t ever seen blood think that this film is not realistic—well, at least the actions are realistic. I’m not being too hyperbole or nationalistic, but for me, The Raid 2 is simply the greatest, the most complex, a standing ovation worth martial art movie ever made. It has topped the expectation and become a real “face breaking, ass kicking, neck twisting, hammer hitting, bone shattering film I have ever experienced.”
The Raid 2: Berandal (2014) —
Serbuan Maut 2: Berandal
Action, Crime, Thriller Written, Directed, and Edited by: Gareth H. Evans Cinematography by: Matt Flannery, Dimas Imam Subhono Music by: Joseph Trapanese, Aria Prayogi, Fajar Yuskemal Starred by: Iko Uwais, Oka Antara, Arifin Putra, Cok Simbara, Tio Pakusadewo, Alex Abbad, Julie Estelle, Very Tri Yulisman, Cecep Arif Rahman, Yayan Ruhian, Kenichi Endo, Ryuhei Matsuda, Kazuki Kitamura, Roy Marten
TRIVIA: Cecep Arif Rahman, who portrays The Assassin, is an English teacher in school. You can imagine how fluent his students will be after watching The Raid 2.
TRIVIA: Very Tri Yulisman (Baseball Bat Man) also appears in The Raid: Redemption; we can see him fighting in the drug lab. In The Raid 2, he was initially set to be Julie Estelle’s (Hammer Girl) fighting coach, yet, director Gareth Evans saw good chemistry between them—and… voila! Here comes Baseball Bat Man and Hammer Girl as a brother and sister.
TRIVIA: Before getting involved in the undercover mission, Rama (Iko Uwais) is given new identity. His new identity is Yuda—which is also the name of the character portrayed by Iko Uwais in Merantau (2009).