By: Heather Seebach
When Gareth Evans' Indonesian ass-kicker The Raid landed on American soil, it was as if millions of action-horny fans simultaneously climaxed all over the Internet. Frankly, I did not share that overwhelming enthusiasm for the film but it had some great moments - the scene behind the walls and the three-way fight come to mind. Still, Evans had proven his chops well enough that I caught The Raid 2 (aka Berandal) in the cinema and ended up much preferring it to the original!
The sequel picks up right where its predecessor left off: Rama (Iko Uwais) has just escaped the gangster-riddled high-rise building but is quickly forced back into harm's way when his family is put in danger. He must go undercover and infiltrate a dangerous crime family. The first step in this task is to befriend the crime boss' son (Arifin Putra). Per usual undercover cop stories, Rama soon gets in over his head while struggling not to blow his cover.
The primary reason The Raid 2 works so well is because unlike the original film, this one spans a variety of set pieces and characters. Via the undercover cop story arc, the viewer spends more time with Rama this round. So too do the villains and heart-of-gold hitman Yayan Ruhian (Mad Dog from the first film) also get sufficient time devoted to their roles. If asked, I could not describe a single character from The Raid (aside from Mad Dog) but this sequel boasts a handful of memorable ones. In addition to the core group of warriors, Evans also throws in a few gimmicky characters that would have Quentin Tarantino salivating - namely, "Hammer Girl and "Baseball Bat Man" who steal scenes with ease.
Meanwhile, the fight sequences are bigger, bolder, and bloodier. From a prison yard melee to a nightclub brawl, the battles - be they one-on-one or group - are damn entertaining! As with the first film, there is some amazing martial arts on display, and no shortage of gore. Evans certainly knows his audience and delivers on what we want! The plot may not be particularly original, and some characters may be paper-thin but those are not the goals of films like these. As for the goal of providing non-stop badassery, The Raid 2 nails that with a bloody hammer!
The Raid 2 is now available on DVD and Blu-ray from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment. The DVD includes director commentary with Gareth Evans; a Q&A with Evans, Iko Uwais, and composer Joe Trapanese; and "The Next Chapter: Shooting the Sequel" featurette wherein the transition between the two films is discussed. The DVD also includes both an English dub and the original language version of the film.
Use the links below to get your DVD or Blu-ray copy now!