Monday, July 28, 2014

Film Review: The Raid 2: Berandal (2014)

The Raid 2: Berandal (Review)
Format Viewed For Review: Blu-ray (Sony Pictures Home Entertainment)
Netflix Streaming: No
Amazon Prime: No

"...Infernal Affairs meets The Raid."

Surviving SWAT member Rama (Iko Uwais) is sent undercover to weed out major police corruption and take down the major crime families.

The Raid 2 follows Rama immediately after the events of the first film. Rama joins a new task force that takes him undercover for a tough operation: get in, get close, and gather evidence. Of course, Rama's exemplary fighting skills will be used to join a family and partake in the "dirty" work. The film does well in balancing its story, character and action. The superb climax is unforgettable -- a breathtaking achievement in action. The ending, albeit abrupt, leaves me hoping we see at least one more film.

The Raid 2 blends a great crime story with exhilarating and brutal fight scenes to deliver an engaging, balanced, and unbelievably entertaining film. It's kind of like Infernal Affairs meets The Raid. The refreshing focus on story does give us a few more breathers from the action, unlike the original film which is practically nonstop action. However, the focus on story and character makes the film much more effective and balanced. A handful of characters in this film will become iconic because of this focus. Also, the undercover aspects add a new layer of suspense and subtle action.

I'd even argue that despite having a few more breathers than the original, The Raid 2 has just as much action, if not more, than its predecessor. And, the action is scaled up tenfold. Rumbles in the yard, rumbles in the halls, high-speed chases, hammers and baseball bats. The action is simply superb. It's ferocious and exciting, it's action that literally gets your blood pumping. I can go on and on about the action, but that's all I really have to say: it's superb. 

Iko Uwais is not only an incredibly talented martial artist, but a great actor, too. Iko Uwais is as charismatic as he is vicious -- and he's plenty vicious. The rest of the acting is also top-notch -- no complaints. The film is shot very well; thanks to the array of locations, the cinematography gets a chance to shine, and shine it does. The camerawork is very engaging, keeping up with every blow; it can be occasionally nauseating, particularly if you have sensitive eyes, though. The camerawork during the car chase stands out as exemplary. The fight and stunt choreography is magnificent. Writer and director Gareth Evans masterfully crafts a superb blend of crime and martial arts; instead of all-out action, Evans focuses on amplifying its amazing set pieces through an engaging story and memorable characters -- and it works.

Overall, The Raid 2 is a fantastic crime martial arts action movie. The story is engaging and entertaining, the characters are unforgettable, and the direction and writing are superb. The action sequences, though, are fantastic. It's difficult to use words to explain how much I loved the action, so let me try to form a comprehensible yet cliche sentence: The Raid 2 is one of the best actions films of all-time. Don't miss it.

Score: 10/10
Parental Guide: Graphic violence and blood, some nudity and sexual references.

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