Overview: Following the events of The Raid: Redemption, rookie Jakarta cop Rama must go undercover to bring down the corruption in the city and save his family. Sony Pictures Classics/Stage 6 Films; 2014; Rated R; 150 Minutes.
The Violence: Holy shit, this movie is violent! From start to finish it’s a flurry of punches, kicks, gruesome injuries, and graphic deaths. This movie is not for the faint of heart. There is barely enough time to recover from one action set-piece before the next one begins. Viewers should watch this with a large audience as the “Oooh’s” and “Oh my’s” will be audible and contribute to the experience.
Strengths: The sound design accentuates the action. There’s solid heft to each bone-crunching encounter. The editing is also a standout. Director and editor Gareth Evans uses practical camera movements and editing tricks to create the effect of long, continuous scenes. Several of the action scenes appear to have one continuous shot, but are actually composed of many cuts that seamlessly connect. These action set-pieces are incredibly intricate; from a prison riot in a muddy courtyard with 40+ people, to a high speed car chase with fighting inside multiple vehicles, and finally a room-to-room, one-man-army final showdown.
The Choreography: The intricate fight choreography has the rhythm of a dance. Evans spent three months before shooting any footage simply creating a scene by scene breakdown of where every movement, cadence, and cut in the action would occur. It pays off. The end result is exactly what he envisioned – a rhythmic, fluid dance of deadly destruction.
One Small Weakness: While the action is quick-hitting and jaw-dropping, there are places between the action where the narrative slows down the ride. It’s not a complex narrative and honestly, it’s not why we’re here. But that makes it all the more tormenting when the plot slows the momentum gained from the high octane action and violence.
Watch This Movie If: You like The Raid: Redemption, martial arts movies, exhilarating action, or extreme violence.
Final Thoughts: The Raid 2: Berandal is a hyper-violent action thrill ride, and a benchmark in action filmmaking. Each set-piece must be seen in order to be believed and any one of them would be the finale of a lesser action movie. Evans has set the bar high, and any future action film now has to contend with the astonishing accomplishment of this film.