Picking up where the first film left off, The Raid 2 follows Rama as he goes undercover and infiltrates the ranks of a ruthless Jakarta crime syndicate in order to protect his family and expose the corruption in his own police force.
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A vast improvement over its predecessor. While the original film felt a little too tidily constructed for optimal carnage, "Berandal" plays it fast and loose, and incorporates a labyrinth crime tale rife with interesting characters and strangely beautiful imagery. And, most definitely, this is martial arts action like I'd never seen before.
The added space for exposition (and breathing) is welcome, at least until it becomes tedious, at which point the return to screaming-fast fisticuffs is quite a relief, at least until it gets mind-numbing, at which point, or at some other similar point a few cycles later, you might begin to feel trapped, and escape, or not.
The second entry lives up fully to the promise of the first. Evans is certainly already an action master as this entry revs up all the elements of the first. Iko Uwais is quite amazing here and even at 2 1/2 hours the film never takes a breath. The kitchen fight just may be one of the best martial art sequences ever filmed. Truly breathtaking edge-of-your-seat entertainment.
Evans ambition to widen the scope of the first Raid film, and give it a grounded sensibility through traditional storytelling, hurts this first sequel the most. The original had a batshit craziness in its tone, pace, and action, that only a genre-defying filmmaker can have. Yet, here, the telling of Evan's larger narrative is unrousing, pedestrian, and dull, thus the action feels strung together.