Those of you who saw The Raid: Redemption probably don’t remember much beyond the crazy fight scenes and there’s a reason for that: the movie didn’t have a lot beyond the fight scenes. The set up was pretty much as simple as it could have been for the good guys and the bad guys to clash and they did. Man, did they ever.
The Raid 2: Berendal seeks to out do it’s predecessor in two ways: the fights are more extreme (although not by much) and the story has quite a bit more scope. Does it succeed? Not entirely. Does it matter? No, because while the story is probably a little too convoluted the fight scenes are among the best I’ve ever seen.
The story plays around with time a bit but basically Rama, the main character from the first movie, is recruited by a special division of the police immediately after the events of The Raid to help weed out police corruption. A few twists and turns later and Rama is working undercover in the biggest criminal organization in the city to try to figure out who their police contacts are and how to bring them down.
Complicating his taks is the crime bosses unstable and wants-to-be-in-charge son trying to start a war with a rival Yakuza family with the aid of a band of mercenary criminals who have their own aims.
Suffice to say that you can pay as much or as little to this story as you like because really all it does is get us from fight a to fight b and it does so pretty well. The best thing about The Raid 2 taking place outside of the confined space of the apartment tower is that when the fights do break out there’s quite a bit more variety thanks to the many varied places they fight. It also allows for a larger –yet still believable– band of “hero” bad guys for Rama to fight in addition to all the nameless henchmen he dispatches.
I don’t want to spoil too much here but I will say that this movie employs the best use of claw hammers since Oldboy (and to stunningly more graphic effect) and pretty much the best use of a baseball bat as well, and while it does find very creative uses for the bat? Wait until the baseballs get used.
Gareth Evans hasn’t directed much but The Raid 2 proves that he has one of the more creative minds for setting up and staging action and a very good understanding of not only how to build up tension immediately before an action sequence but also how much to linger on the aftermath for the most effect.
It’s also worth pointing out that star Iko Uwais is kind of great in this as the role requires much more of him as an actor and this is only the fourth film he’s appeared in and the first with a substantive plot and a full-blown character arc.
The Raid: Redemption was one of the biggest surprises I had in 2012 and that is maybe the biggest thing that could have gone wrong with The Raid 2; I actually had expectations for it. The film lives up to those expectations and then some though so if you like R-Rated action, awesome martial arts, and creatively staged and executed action then The Raid 2: Berendal is a must see.