Although I’m not attending the Sundance Film Festival this year as credentialed press, when the chance came up to see the world premiere of ‘The Raid 2’, as any sane person would do, I took it. Having reviewed ‘The Raid’ here two years ago when it played at the festival, and again when it hit Blu-ray shelves, I felt like I owed it to you to review the sequel. If you enjoyed any part of the first hyper-violent Indonesian action flick, you’re going to love ‘The Raid 2: Berandal’.
Before the American release of ‘The Raid’, Sony Pictures Classics tacked on the sub-title ‘Redemption’. While introducing the sequel, director Gareth Evans explained that “Berandal” is the Indonesian sub-title and joked that the American sub-title will be something like ‘More Redemption’, because “There wasn’t much redemption in the first film.”
Back in 2012, many comparisons were made between the first ‘Raid’ and the ‘Dredd‘ reboot. Personally, I enjoyed both films, so the argument over which one allegedly ripped off the other doesn’t matter to me. When it comes to the sequel, ‘Berandal’ is more like ‘The Departed‘ (which is a little funny because that’s a remake of a Chinese movie). With a complex plot, a fully loaded group of important characters and a story containing dichotomies much like ‘The Departed’, ‘Berandal’ is quite a different film from ‘Redemption’.
The movie opens shortly after the end of the first one. Our heroic Officer Rama is recruited into a covert division of the police force and tasked with getting close to another of the city’s various crime lords. This time, he’s not only looking to bring down the criminals, but to reveal further police corruption tied to what caused everything to go wrong the last time. With a runtime of two-and-a-half hours and no confining restrictions (such as being stuck in the middle of a 15-story building), the scope of ‘Berandal’ is huge and has a much grander feel.
Despite the bigger scale, ‘Berandal’ carries the exact same tone and style as ‘The Raid’, and the action is still fantastic. Get ready for more cringe-inducing excessive violence. Now outside of the building, the action feels unconfined, and involves more than just hand-to-hand combat, making ‘Berandal’ a lot more than just a martial arts movie. The action bleeds out into the entire city in many different styles.
In the post-screening Q&A, Evans explained that ‘Berandal’ was actually written prior to the first movie. He’d shopped it around for a while, but because of its expensive scale, he couldn’t get funding for it. After ‘The Raid’ proved so successful, he adapted his ‘Berandal’ screenplay to fit the story and characters – and it works seamlessly.
‘The Raid 2: Berandal’ will open in limited release (under a different sub-title) in a couple months. I highly recommend it. Although the MPAA will undoubtedly make Evans remove some of the film’s extremely graphic moments, I’m sure that we’ll also get the Sundance cut on Blu-ray by the end of the year.