In 2012 an Indonesian Martial arts action film called “The Raid: Redemption” generated a fair bit of buzz among genre buff circles. Unfortunately I did not have the sense to see it while it was in my local theater, in fact I have not had the sense to see it even still. However, at the assurance of a friend I saw it’s sequel this very evening: “The Raid 2: Berendal.” I regret every moment I have gone without seeing it’s predecessor, for while the sequel is tremulously enjoyable as a stand alone film, (as a sequel should) I can only imagine what I might have missed from the past work of these artists. For that is what this film is, it is art. Painting, sculpture, mosaic, shadow puppets…choose which analogy best suits you. The Raid 2: Berendal brings form and substance to the abstraction of pain. It turns violence into a display of sickening beauty.
The fight choreography is brutal and lightning quick without being hard to follow or disorienting. This is made possible by the fantastic cinematography, which captures the action masterfully. Even outside the actions scenes the framing/ lighting/overall mise-en-scene is incredibly well crafted. The top notch special effects/ make-up complement the choreography resulting in some of the most grisly mutilations I’ve seen in a action film. It’s as if the director’s prime objective was to truly test how much pain the human body was capable of enduring before breaking down completely. The film literally end with it’s action hero (played by Iko Uwais), soaked in blood after taking down over twenty people singlehandedly, declaring that he is done. He’s had enough. The film pushes it’s protagonist to the breaking point of physical human suffering, and the audiences ability to stand witness to that brutality. The story is intricate web of criminal allegiances, undercover intrigue and betrayal of Shakespearian proportions with an electric cast of memorable villains (some of whom aren’t even given proper names, such is the depth of their impact).
You may not have ever found yourself asking “how many different ways can the hooked end of a hammer enter the human body?” But hot damn does this film answer that question…and you will be glad that it did. If you are a fan of visceral carnage made manifest in celluloid, then I recommend you seek this film out immediately, if you’re squeamish I would advise taking caution. Without question The Raid 2 is one of the greatest action films made in the past 2 decade, and I cannot fathom how I’ve managed to go without viewing it’s predecessor.