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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat

 

    ‘The Raid 2’: most action-packed film of year

    Pt.+Merantau+Films
    Pt. Merantau Films

    Despite some missteps with a sweeping, overly long plot, when it comes to action, “The Raid 2: Berandal” has no peers besides its predecessor, “The Raid: Redemption.”

    “The Raid 2” picks up immediately in the aftermath of the first film, but the plot quickly sends a very clear message that this film won’t be anything like the original. Some characters who were lucky enough to make it through the first film find bullets in their head within the first five minutes of the sequel.

    Rama (Iko Uwais) has ruffled some very powerful feathers and — for the sake of protecting his family and fighting the police corruption discovered in “The Raid” — goes undercover, adopting the name “Yuda.” He gets himself locked up in prison to get close to the incarcerated Uco (Arifin Putra), the only son of aging crime lord Bangun (Tio Pakusadewo).

    Bangun and Goto (Kenichi Endo) lead rival families, yet the two have established peace and rule the city between them. The undercover unit believes that Bangun has Jakarta police commissioner Reza (Roy Marten) in his pocket. However, to add to this already volatile mix is the steady ascension of newcomer Bejo (Alex Abbad), a black-gloved, half-Arab man with a limp and an accompanying cane who couldn’t appear any more different from the Indonesian crime lords.

    The film has all the complex, conflicting and ever-changing character motivations and loyalties of a good crime-thriller. However, the scope of the film seems infinitely more vast than the first “Raid.” “The Raid” was set in one location and had a plot that read like an old-school video game: Fight your way through a 30-story building full of bad guys to get to the crime lord at the top. At 101 minutes, it was a tight, fun film.

    “The Raid 2,” clocking in at 148 minutes, feels unwieldy at times. The interweaving plots provide enough to keep the viewer engaged, but there are definitely some minutes that could have been left on the cutting room floor. The excess needs to be focused.

    In its second act, the film focuses heavily on the arc of the ambitious, if hotheaded, Uco, who is trying desperately to make a name for himself out of his father’s shadow. His development is dynamic and worthy of screen time, but not to the extent that we lose Rama, who has positioned himself as Uco’s right hand. There was a point where I actually wondered to myself when the last time we saw our main character was.

    Uwais wasn’t an actor until director Gareth Evans discovered him in 2007 while filming a martial arts documentary. Evans was quick to see that Uwais had a natural charisma about him and cast the martial artist/driver in his first film, “Merantau.” When Uwais is not on-screen, I miss him, and he is off-screen for too many long stretches in “The Raid 2.”

    But rest assured, nothing has changed about the action. It is, quite simply, still the best. Evans has brought the Indonesian martial art of pencak silat to the masses via the big screen.
    Rama again finds himself having to constantly take on droves and droves of henchmen, the numbers verging on cartoonish. The action is choreographed and filmed in a way where you can actually appreciate what’s happening on screen; it’s not just a blur of motion and editing.

    The hand-to-hand combat provides the most brutal images you’ll see on a screen this year. This isn’t the type of Hollywood fighting where a few kicks to the body completely incapacitate someone. In this realistic world, people need to be dispatched in a way that keeps them from getting up again. Bones are broken with a snap, backs and torsos are stabbed among cascades of spurting blood, throats and ligaments are slashed.

    Cringing every few minutes — and probably letting out some exclamations — is par for the course while viewing this film. “The Raid 2” will be the best and most violent action movie you see this year, bar none.
    Grade: B

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