I made no efforts to hide my love of The Raid: Redemption. I reviewed it, bought it, told people about it, and I think it was even one of my top movies the year it came out. When my friend Phil came to town, he did so with an invitation to see the sequel to this movie … that I was unaware even existed. But once I had found out, I couldn’t wait to go see The Raid 2: Berandal, written and directed by Gareth Evans, and starring Iko Uwais, Arifin Putra, Oka Antara, Tio Pakusadewo, Alex Abbad, Ryuhei Matsuda, Kenichi Endo, Kazuki Kitamura, and Donny Alamsyah.
Sometime after the events of the first movie, Andi (Donny Alamsyah) is captured by an ambitious gangster named Bejo (Alex Abbad), who kills Andi for his own ambitions. Elsewhere, Rama (Iko Uwais) meets the head of Jakarta’s anti-corruption task force and is asked to go to jail and get close to Uco (Arifin Putra), the son of the crime boss Bangun (Tio Pakusadewo), and join their syndicate in order to find evidence about a corrupted police commissioner.
I felt myself very confused when it would come to recommending this movie or not. I probably spent an equal amount of time in this movie excessively bored and excited. The action was awesome, but it could take a lot of time getting there, and a lot of that time was boring. And, as a martial arts movie, of course it didn’t bother to make a lot of sense. You think they’d have tried harder since they wasted so much extra time with the story. But they didn’t. That’s how they were able to have their characters tossing bodies into a lake in broad daylight. Now that’s not necessarily stupid; it’s more bold. Having the boss complain that the fish taste funny in the lake where they dispose of dead bodies, now that’s just asinine. There were also lines like, “This is bad. This is really bad,” when the city was on the verge of an all-out gang war! I think that qualifies as “super-duper über bad!” Also, if Rama is this super cop, why is he stupid enough to hide the wire he put on Uco in his wallet? I would say I open my wallet on average at least 3 times a day, yet he has a wire the size of a watch battery in his for like a month before he notices? One thing I could get on board with in this movie is the fact that I realized that they never let women talk. AM I RIGHT, FELLAS?! They barely ever let them speak and the only prominent female character in the movie is deaf and cannot speak, so women’s rights are going just fine in Asia.
Let us get past the story because that had nothing to do with my interest in this movie. So how were the fights? They sure were! Wait… I mean good! They retained a great deal of what I called, “Oh shit! Moments.” Some were from the fights, but most were in a pretty spectacular car chase nearing the end of the movie. And that last big fight in the kitchen was pretty intense. The only issue I had with it was with the fact that Rama took so long to arm himself. You were in a kitchen! They don’t use knives while cooking in Indonesia? You had to get one from your enemy? Well, at least that guy had knives. The other two assassins had the stupidest weapons I’ve ever seen in a martial arts movie, at least ones that weren’t just picked up because they were there. The guy Rama fought in the kitchen had two kerambits (which Wikipedia tells me are traditional Indonesian dagger-like weapons). The guy assassin carried around a traditional Indonesian … baseball bat … and would even use baseballs themselves as weapons! And the girl carried two claw hammers! The most ancient of martial arts weaponry! I guess she would prefer it to the hammering I usually as Asian girls involved with on … certain websites… Did they use them in cool ways? Yes, occasionally, but the choices were so ridiculous they were laughable. They also had a scene of some rapid fire face punchin’ that seemed right out of Ip Man. I loved me some Ip Man, so I thought it was awesome here too … even if it did seem a little … stolen. There were few negative sides to the action besides the spacing between, but there were a few. One such incident was a stabbing early on in the film. Now, when a guy goes to stab someone and accidentally stabs someone else when they’re pulled in front of their target I can understand. But three times?
The artsy shit they kept going for was one of my biggest problems with this movie. I try to be tolerant of a lot of talking in these movies because I don’t want every martial arts movie to be a Tony Jaa movie that barely bothers with story and serve mainly as a show off video for Tony Jaa. But what I had big problems with dealing with in this movie was how much time they wasted on shots that seemed to only serve to try to make the movie seem fancy. If I wanted to watch a coin spin on a table for 30 seconds, I have all the means to make that happen in my own home. I don’t need to give money to a theater for it. I really think movies should stop trying with this slow mo stuff. I’m not going to think your movie is any better because of it, especially if I fall asleep waiting for something to actually happen.
I can’t say that I had that much to say about the cast of the movie. They all performed adequately. I did have one big problem though, and that was with the presence of Yayan Ruhian. Now, he performed just fine in this movie. He kicked some ass and even had some good emotional moments. He also had some kick ass moments in the first movie … when he was killed! You’re just gonna bring him back and make him a different dude and think I’m not gonna notice?! I’m not THAT racist! I can still tell Asian people apart! At first I wondered if they were ever going to explain why he was there, but then I found out he was just a completely different guy with no reference to any kind of relation with his other character. Then I wondered why they were trying so hard to make us care about his new character, but then I figured that out when they killed him. I assume they wanted us to feel bad for him, but I found it difficult to feel bad about the death of someone I watched die already. I’m weird like that.
So what am I trying to tell you about The Raid 2: Berandal? I’m not entirely sure. The action was pretty fantastic, but it can take its sweet time getting there and they try to show off by making you watch a coin spin. But, I think if you have that information going in you can be better prepared for the long stretches of boring and manage to make it to the awesome action intact. I did not have such a luxury, so all of you owe me. The Raid 2: Berandal gets “Bring back the ball” out of “No … I’m done.”
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