Serbuan Maut 2 / The Raid 2: Berandal (2014) - Among the very best modern martial arts movies - 8/10 (30/04/14)
"The Raid: Redemption" has been one of the most exciting action movies of the past years and I was eager to watch its follow-up "The Raid 2: Berandal". I took quite a ride to watch this movie in a small cinema in its original language with English subtitles and this movie was definitely worth all the time and money.
To my surprise, this movie was quite different from the first one. "The Raid: Redemption" is a fast-paced and emotionally thrilling action movie in a closed environment with a lot of shooting sequences. "The Raid 2: Berandal" is an epic gangster movie with a more complex story line, a high diversity of settings and much more physical fighting sequences that always surprise. One also follows different characters throughout the movie and not only the main character. These perspective changes keep the movie interesting until the end as it's a quite long film.
On the negative side, it was sometimes quite hard to follow the story because there are a lot of new characters and names to keep on your mind. In the beginning, one doesn't always get who are Bejo, Bunawar, Eka, Prakoso, Reza, Uco and many other supporting characters. Main character Rama is working as an undercover agent inside the Bangun gang under the name Yuda to gain their respect and to investigate and eventually bring down their criminal activities involving other foreign and local gangs as well as the police itself.
There are a lot of intriguing conspiracies going on in this movie. The whole story made me think a lot of the Korean movie "New World" that came out in 2013, starring Hwang Jung-Min, Lee Jung-Ae and the legendary Choi Min-Sik. With a running time of two hours and a half, "The Raid 2: Berandal" has though a few minor lengths in comparison to the first film but the story is overall more ambitious.
Another minor issue I didn't appreciate was the fact that one could not really connect with the different characters. This was different in the first movie where some young police officers committed some heroic acts of bravery and where the main character had to deal with some very intriguing family issues. Right in the beginning of the sequel, the two other surviving characters of the first movie are out of the story and the main character's brother won't have its comeback either apart of a few unimportant scenes. Instead, one gets introduced to a lot of new and not very profound or sympathetic characters in the organized crime. Some characters feel even slightly ripped off from other movies. The Hammer Girl character for example makes me think of the South Korean masterpiece "Old Boy".
On a side note, it was great to have Yahan "Mad Dog" Ruhian back on board. His initial villain character died in the first film but the actor is back in a new role as a loyal and poor assassin who has a troublesome life on the streets without his family. This character was pretty much the most human and interesting one in the entire movie. This actor simply has a lot of charisma.
The action scenes in this movie are brilliant. They are even far above the quality of the exciting first part. The choreographies are maybe among the best ever done in a martial arts movie. The settings are highly diversified: cars, discotheques, factories, kitchens, prisons, trains and more. The different weapons are also addicting: baseball bats and balls, hammers, knives, sabres, sickles, different guns from sniper rifles to Uzis and off course hand and feet. The fighting scenes are sometimes raw and wild, sometimes aesthetic and virtuous, sometimes fast and ruthless, sometimes brutal and slow. One can see a lot of bones and necks breaking, heads exploding and diverse body parts flying around in bloody rain. The atmosphere of the fighting scenes also changes from desperate over disgusting to elegant. There are even a few macabre and humorous parts that help to digest the pitiless fighting scenes. They are diversified and original. They never get boring. This movie really sets news standards in its genre.
"The Raid 2: Berandal" is definitely one of the very best modern action movies. Few people will argue about this. The action sequences are diversified and always spectacular. The choreographies and the settings as well as the camera work and the sound effects are excellent. The plot needs some time to unfold and has its strong parts but also a few minor lengths. The characters in this movie are of an average quality and mostly less interesting than in the first film. In the end, this will probably be the most exciting action movie of the year so you should definitely not miss it despite its minor flaws. I'm already eager to purchase this movie and get to see another sequel. "The Expandables" and Co. are kindergarten compared to this franchise.
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