Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Raid 2: Berandal

Written and directed by Gareth Evans, The Raid 2: Berandal is a sequel to the 2011 Indonesian film in which a cop goes undercover into the Jakarta crime syndicate while discovering corruption within the police. The film sort of picks up where the first film left off as Iko Uwais reprises his role as Rama from the first film. Also starring Alex Abbad, Julie Estelle, Tio Pakusadewo, Ryuhei Matsuda, Kenichi Endo, Kazuki Kitamura, Arifin Putra, Oka Antara, and Cecep A. Rahman. The Raid 2: Berandal is an intense and gripping film from Gareth Evans.

The film sort of picks up just a few hours after the events of the first film where Rama is being asked by an investigator to go undercover. In going undercover, Rama has to infiltrate a revered Jakarta crime organization as things become more complicated as police corruption and an ambitious self-made boss is involved where the latter wants to start a war with all of the organizations in Jakarta. For Rama, his mission becomes more troubling as he is asked by a boss to watch over his son who has become bloodthirsty and eager to succeed his father. Especially as that young man in Uco (Arifin Putra) is making a deal with the self-made gangster Bejo (Alex Abbad) who is only interested in creating anarchy and take complete control of Jakarta.

Gareth Evans’ screenplay is quite ambitious for not just the way he explores the world of the Jakarta crime scene as two bosses try to maintain peace but also in how a young boss wants to undo this peace. Yet, the film begins with the death of a major character from the first film in the hands of Bejo which would set everything up for what Rama needs to do as the only person he trusts is Bunawar (Cok Simbara) who is an anti-corruption task force leader eager to bring down both the Bangun family and the Goto family as the latter is from Japan. He also wants Rama to look into the works of Bejo as things get more complicated by the involvement of corrupt officers under the supervision of its commissioner Reza (Roy Marten). The sacrifices that Rama would make to go undercover as he wouldn’t see his family for years would take a toll on him as he starts to get close the Bangun leader (Tio Pakusadewo) who would take Rama, under an alias, and treat him better than his own son Uco.

The presence of Bejo into Uco’s world would complicate things as Bejo is a very different antagonist whose interest in chaos and wanting to rule Jakarta makes him a formidable foe as he would force Uco to become more erratic. Though Uco’s motivations is to take over for his father as he feels he is ready, Uco doesn’t have the experience to do that as his father is already looking towards his right-hand man Eka (Oka Antara) to take his place. Uco’s alliance with Bejo would have this repercussions that would include Bejo sending his deadliest assassins to wreak havoc. Among these assassins include a man (Cecep Arif Rahman) who carries kerambits as well as a woman (Julie Estelle) who carries claw hammers while her brother (Very Tri Yulisman) is deadly with a metal baseball bat. They would become the kind of forces that wouldn’t just threaten the Goto family but also Rama as he becomes aware of what is happening as he would have to do whatever it takes to save himself and for the good of Jakarta.

Evans’ direction is definitely much broader in comparison to its predecessor in not just its scope but also in the violence and action. With its emphasis on grimy locations as well as some set pieces such as the prison where Rama would be in. Evans creates something that is much darker where it’s a very different world that Rama is in as it’s far more unforgiving as he arrives in prison as an enemy while he has to fight many men in the mud on a rainy day as he would gain Uco’s loyalty. There’s moments where Evans’ direction is entrancing in the compositions he creates that has him not just maintain a sense of dramatic tension but also play into a world that is about to come undone. Even as some of the locations include some gorgeous set pieces such as the place where Bejo conducts business.

Evans’ approach to the action is far more visceral in its presentation where he doesn’t just go for some very shaky and gripping hand-held cameras but also in the way the violence is presented. With help from fight choreographers Iko Uwais, Yayan Ruhian, and Larnell Stovall, Evans creates a fluidity to the fighting as it is about not just the rhythm but the power of the punches as well as how the weapons are used. Forgoing the use of CGI blood, the violence is definitely bloody as well as has some elements of gore. There is a mixture of ugliness and beauty into the images as it would lead to this very bloody and intense climax where Rama has to go against the odds for the state of good. Overall, Evans craft a very mesmerizing yet unsettling film about a man going against the crime world all by himself.

Cinematographers Matt Flannery and Dimas Imam Subhono do amazing work with the film‘s cinematography with the look of the green fields as well as some of shots set at night to the lighting in some of the interiors such as Bejo‘s barroom as well as the penthouse that Rama would stay at. Editors Gareth Evans and Andi Novianto do fantastic work with the editing as it plays to some very unconventional rhythms with its jump-cuts while the most interesting aspect of the editing is in the fight-sequences where some of it involve long takes as it‘s an idea on when not to cut. Sound editor Jonathan Greber and sound designer Ichsan Rachmaditta do brilliant work with the sound as it plays to the atmosphere of some of the locations with some layering of sounds in some places as well as the way some of the fights are presented.

The film’s music by Joseph Trapanese, Aria Prayogi, and Fajar Yuskemal is great for its mixture of dark-ambient with some pulsating, percussive-based music that adds to the action while the soundtrack includes some pop music, a classical piece, and a couple of instrumentals from Nine Inch Nails from their 2008 instrumental double-album Ghosts I-IV.

The film’s cast is just incredible as the ensemble includes some notable small performances from Fikha Effendi as Rama’s wife, Roy Marten as the corrupt police commissioner Reza, Kenichi Endo as the crime boss Goto, Ryuhei Matsuda as Goto’s son Keiichi, and Kazuki Kitamura as Goto’s advisor/right-hand man Ryuichi. Other memorable small roles include Very Tri Yulisman as the very-deadly Baseball Bat Man who would also hit a baseball to kill his enemies while Julie Estelle is just fantastic as the very silent but lethal Hammer Girl who is a total badass with two hammers. Cecep Arif Rahman is excellent as Bejo’s unnamed assassin who kills with no remorse as he is a man that carries these kerambits that play into his personality. Yayan Ruhian is great as the Bangun’s most loyal assassin Prakoso as a man who is the eyes and ears of Bangun as he is also a very skilled killer with a machete.

Cok Simbara is terrific as Rama’s superior Bunawar who is the only contact Rama has to the outside world as he ensures him of the danger that Rama is facing. Tio Pakusadewo is amazing as the crime boss Bangun who just wants to keep the piece with the Gotos as well as deal with his son. Oka Antara is brilliant as Bangun’s advisor/right-hand man Eka who watches over some of the business while looking into Rama’s activities. Arifin Putra is wonderful as Bangun’s son Uco who tries to impress his father only to make an uneasy deal with Bejo to create a war. Alex Abbad is phenomenal as the very slimy and evil Bejo as he walks with a cane while being this epitome of nihilism and ambition. Finally, there’s Iko Uwais in a remarkable performance as Rama as a man who goes undercover to infiltrate a crime syndicate as he struggles with his new role as well as the things he discovers as he is forced to fight the Bejo and the mob all by himself.

The Raid 2: Berandal is a tremendous film from Gareth Evans. Featuring a great cast led by Iko Uwais as well as gripping and exciting action sequences. It’s a film that isn’t just a worthy sequel to its predecessor but also raises the bar of what can be done with martial-arts action films as well as inject with some substance in terms of its storytelling. In the end, The Raid 2: Berandal is a magnificent film from Gareth Evans.

Gareth Evans Films: (Samurai Monogatari) - (Footsteps) - (Merantau) - The Raid: Redemption - (V/H/S/2-Safe Haven)

© thevoid99 2014


ruth said...

It's cool that films featuring actors from my hometown, as well as SET in my hometown becomes so famous internationally. Wish it weren't so darn violent tho, I just don't care for something THIS extreme, even just watching the trailer & reviews I knew I can't stomach it.

thevoid99 said...

I can understand if it's not your forte yet I had a hell of a time watching it. It just puts American action films to shame and not afraid to be ultra-violent.