When I left the theater after seeing The Raid, I said to myself that it was the best action movie I had seen. Nothing could prepare me for how intense and focused that film would be, and it made me excited all over again to be a lover of action movie cinema. When I left the theater after seeing The Raid 2: Berandal, I was nearly in tears, not because I was sad, but because I was overly ecstatic, as I had seen something that actually bested what the first film had accomplished. Within the realm of the shoot-em-up action thriller, I have never seen anything as unrelentingly amazing as The Raid 2: Berandal, and my guess is that I won’t see anything better than it until director Gareth Evans delivers the third chapter in this extra-assaultive series of films. Out of all of the genres that one can pick from, the Action Film is easily my favorite. More than most types of cinema, it exists to exhilarate and to transport, and when in the hands of a master like Evans, the results are nothing short of extraordinary. This film completely and utterly eviscerates the competition; American movies pale in comparrison to this blood-drenched effort. There’s nothing else that even remotely comes close to matching the cumulative level of bad-assery that you’ll find in The Raid 2. It’s two and a half hours of punching, shooting, maiming, garroting, car-chasing, slicing, dicing, hammering, base-ball-batting, kicking, and shanking. And yes, if you can believe it, there’s more plot to choke a horse, with developments that make sense, and a fully sympathetic lead character you entirely root for.
Picking up mere moments after the obscenely bloody events of The Raid, this sequel ups the ante in every regard — characters, plot-lines, set-pieces, and the overall level of lunatic abandon when it comes to the mind-blowing action sequences. You’ll see one of the very best car chases ever captured by cameras in The Raid 2, and you’ll also see the single most vicious and bloody one-on-one fight that I could ever possibly imagine. Honestly – after the stuff done in this film – I’m not sure what else needs to be attempted with this sort of thing. But leave it to Evans to try, as he’s currently working on The Raid 3. This is legendary action cinema, taking cues from genre masters like John Woo, Takashi Miike, and Paul Greengrass, mixing an undercover-cop-in-prison narrative ala The Departed with classic tribal feuds straight out of a Japanese Yakuza picture. Iko Uwais is a living legend, and the same can be said for Yayan Ruhian; these guys ostensibly have zero limits and are willing to go above and beyond what’s physically expected from a human being. The Indonesian setting makes for an exotic backdrop for all of the insane bouts of mayhem, with the impossibly agile cinematography covering all of the action from the most eye-popping angles possible. This is a movie where you feel every punch, hear every bullet whizz past your ears, and every single scene seems to have been designed to top the last. This is outstanding action cinema that will be very, very tough to beat.