Sunday, 15 March 2015

The Raid 2: Berandal (2014)

Following on straight after the events of the first movie we are back alongside Rama as he is once again lured into another mission, or should that be used in another mission. The last three members to survive the tower block raid are seen here together again, albeit briefly, as Rama is now wanted for an undercover job. Expect betrayal, blood, broken bones and a whole load of very similar looking characters.

Right away this is the problem with this sequel, the plot, its meh. The whole reason why the first movie was so explosive was the excellent story. A special team of elite cops enter a tower block in the slums of Jakarta to bring down a crime lord. They start at the bottom and must work their way up floor by floor taking out scum, the whole premise was solid, tight, tense and claustrophobic, the perfect storm. This sequel sees Rama going undercover to expose a corrupt police official (Reza) who is tied in with criminal gangs, this means getting friendly with a crime bosses son (Uco) in jail and working for the enemy (Uco's father Bangun).

Things get complicated when another crime Boss Bejo, obviously wanting power and control, teams up with Bangun's son to try and start a war against a rival Japanese crime syndicate, this act being against Bangun's will. The only reason for this mainly being Uco wants to show his father how strong and dependable he his, to prove himself. The other reason being Bejo thinks the Japanese are trying to sway Reza against the Bangun syndicate. Jesus I had to think about that just writing it! and this is the problem, the plot is really convoluted in my opinion with characters coming out of the woodwork. I've not even mentioned the betrayal twists involving gangs killing their own and then faking reprisals to kick start this war, not to mention corrupt police gangs  and undercover cop twists on top!

I genuinely had some trouble following what was going on from scene to scene, so many characters all kinda looking the same whilst scenes popped up outta nowhere with little reasoning (Prakoso the assassin I'm looking at you). Its only later on down the line I realised what that previous scene had been about and why, I had to rewatch scenes and read up on sections. It is good that the continuity is there from the start, they had the same two actors from the last movie briefly and it all smoothly crosses into this story which was cool. Alas at no point did I ever really feel the same adrenaline shot that I did for the first film, this could of been any action movie, its a generic plot that's been done before many times and I was actually bored periodically.

Of course the movie is all about the fights, this is the movies forte, its reason for being. Does that disappoint? errr...kinda, in all honesty it did in places yes, let me explain. There didn't actually seem to be as many fights in this film, probably because its not set in a confined space, what there was became so outrageous and so long I again found myself getting bored. Yes the first movie had awesome fights that were ridiculous and long but this movie does seem to go that little bit further. You still have tonnes of faceless henchmen getting their asses handed to them on a plate which is standard procedure and fun. But the boss fights almost become a parody and just go on and on and on, the main fight towards the end in the kitchen especially. I realise that's because both characters are highly trained fighters in their art but you get dizzy watching this shit, the director just doesn't know when to stop, less is more guy!

The blood and violence is sky high I might add it really is, non-stop bloodbath of epic proportions. Yet again I have to say its too much, less is more, there comes a point when the blood and gore is so extravagant that it loses all impetus, it becomes dull and non-engaging. I really found myself yearning for some good old fashioned fisticuffs that didn't involve various weapons that naturally result in gallons of claret everywhere, and I really disliked the assassins with their specific weapons. Seriously Evans are you trying to be the Asian Robert Rodriguez here? well don't, it ain't a good move. Don't any criminal gangs use guns in this world? would be easier.

We all know what this movie offers, you know what to expect and it certainly delivers on that. I can't complain about the violence because the movie is all about pure violence...and a traditional practice involving mental, physical and spiritual development but anyway. My main issue is the fact it just feels like a run of the mill action fest that offers nothing new (accept another look at a newish martial art). The first movie worked really well because of the cracking story, setting and close quarters action, this has none of that, its just a gangster flick with lots of stereotypical stuff in it. Hell even the car chase looked crap, you can clearly see the cars are going quite slow with high speed sound effects dubbed on top. Yes it looks good, yes the fights are impressive when not drenched in blood and yes its a solid achievement for an Indonesian production...but it lacks the quality of its predecessor and just left me numb and weary.