Archive for April, 2014

The Raid 2: Berandal Review

Posted in Film Reviews And Conversations on April 13, 2014 by Adam Broome

The Raid: Redemption came out in 2012; a little Indonesian action film made by a welsh director that quickly became a cult hit with action and martial arts fans alike. Some critics called it the greatest action film of this century, so needless to say, the expectations for this film were so high God kept bumping his head on them. How does it fare?


This film picks up immediately where the first film left off, tying off the stories of the survivors of the first installment within the first five minutes, and focusing the rest of the film entirely on central protagonist Rama. With his family placed into police protection, Rama’s identity is wiped, as the crooked police and mob bosses are actively hunting him in the aftermath of the first film. Forced to change his identity, Rama decides to go undercover and befriend the son of of one of the city’s most notorious kingpins, in the hopes of weeding out the corrupt policemen on his tail.

The first film was relatively low-budget and low-key, set almost entirely within the confines of an abandoned apartment block rife with criminals hiding from the law. This time around, the first thirty minutes are set in a police precinct, and the subsequent two hours are set all over Jakarta, allowing for much more variety in pacing and locations to keep things interesting. The cinematography is much more experimental in this film, and it is also longer, with much more going on this time around. However, that’s not necessarily a good thing.


Character development is central this time around, attempting to provide context to the bone-breaking fight scenes that follow. Alas, as you often find with the best action films, the acting and scripting just isn’t that great. After a heart-stopping opening half hour, the following hour sags, with a few characters and sub-plots that weren’t really needed, and didn’t lead anywhere. I found myself thinking that the film was just killing time to the final denouement, bulking out a film with even more fighting that, in all fairness, it probably didn’t need.

Not that the fight scenes are bad – quite the contrary. Some have said the scenes this time are even better than the first (and I whole-heartedly agree). Comparisons have even been drawn to Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan films, with some citing one of the final brawls in a kitchen as one of the best fight scenes ever put to film. Like… ever.



Personally, I relished the stylised gore and anime-esque characters of the much talked-about ‘hammer girl’ and ‘baseball-bat man’. Funnily enough, in a fight scene they share towards the end, I found myself caring and sympathizing more about these two mysterious characters, than I did about characters that the film had spent the entire duration trying to build up. Some scenes should have packed a real emotional bite, but just didn’t. Most of the emotion came from the wincing when a leg got broken, or an extra’s chin accidentally hit a concrete wall as he fell.


Despite the characterisation being a bit flat (which is a big problem in a film with this many characters), everything else goes smooth as butter, with massive improvements from the first film in terms of black humour, imagination, and scope. Despite it’s failings, we all know it’s the action that people come for, and this is the best in show bar none, and rightfully puts the standard American action film to shame. It’s gritty, it’s violent, it’s funny, and it keeps you engaged just long enough to survive it’s rather long running time.