The Raid is one of those films I don't see myself tiring of watching anytime soon. It is a self-contained Beat 'Em Up that is all kinds of unrelenting with the drama and numerous kicks to the head over the course of its more than adequate 101 minute run time. To say that it is groundbreaking in its storytelling is a huge overstatement, but for its high octane thrills, complete lack of cgi (which has become a staple over the last decade in action films), and a lead character we the viewer genuinely root for, The Raid is correctly pitched as one of the best action films to hit cinemas in the last decade. I really cannot recommend it enough, and I honestly believe it is a travesty that it is being remade for US audiences because most of the English speaking population refuse to read subtitles.
Last year's shameful attempt at reworking a classic by director Spike Lee is the most recent example of the #bastardization of foreign classics. Fans of Oldboy (Park Chan-wook's 2003 'iconic' revenge thriller) will no doubt agree that Lee's US remake with John Brolin and Elizabeth Olsen was a complete waste of time. The fact that it fell way short of recouping its $30,000,000 budget at the box office ($4,861,022 is its worldwide take) should be proof alone to producers and investors that remaking foreign films rarely benefits their bank balance. But still the #bastardization of cinema continues.
So what of The Raid 2: Berandal which picks up immediately after the events of the first film and sees rookie Jakarta cop Rama having to deal with the consequences of his actions after fighting his way out of a building filled with low-level gangsters and madmen? I guess the first question we have to ask is; Are we looking at a far superior film to the first on every level? The answer without any hesitation is, FUCK YES.
Whilst the first Raid was on lockdown, confining the action to one building. Berandal takes the fight into the City and ups the ante tenfold to give us some truly epic prison brawls, nightclub battles, ridiculous car chases, kitchen mishaps, a boy who kills his enemies with a baseball bat (not to be outdone by his mute sister who kills her enemies with hammers), a karaoke party gone wrong, and one returning actor from the first film that I was totally psyched to see playing a different character this second time around.
I don't really want to say much more about Berandal as I would have hated for anyone to spoil the film for me being such a fan of the first. But it's important to let you know that the storyline matches the action all the way over 2 hours and 28 minutes, providing many a tense moment before fists fly and goons lose their heads in spectacular fashion.
As you can appreciate, there wasn't much time in the first film for Rama to make a cuppa and break open a Kit Kat, let alone hold a conversation with someone for more than five minutes. But after you watch Berandal you will realise that the lack of storyline in the first film completely served Rama's naivety. You really need to pay attention to the storyline in this one or you might miss something uber important.
For those of you reading who might take issue with subtitles (and I don't imagine there are many of you, tsk tsk), one reviewer on Rotten Tomatoes said the following about the film; "It really doesn't matter what language the actors are speaking. Great action has, and will always be, universally spoken." Here! Here!
But seriously now, there's a mute girl in this film who kills goons with hammers! Why wouldn't you? "Stop! Hammer Time!"