Its is fair to say there has been more than a bit of anticipation about The Raid 2: Berandal, Gareth Evan’s follow-up to The Raid. With its first screening at Sundance last night, the reviews are rolling in, and the verdict seems to be pretty unanimous. Fans, rest easy. Gareth Evans received a standing ovation at the first screening – yep, THAT good.
I was set to be disappointed. The stakes were too high, surely there was no way that a Welshman and his cast of Indonesian badasses were going to pull off a second miracle? So I sat. And I watched. And somehow, The Raid 2 not only met but surpassed any possible expectations -this is the greatest action film of all time.
That rare sequel that expands the scope of its predecessor to produce something grander, richer and far more rewarding, The Raid 2 elevates the franchise from a very enjoyable close-quarters action extravaganza into a full-blown crime epic.
People who though THE RAID was a fun, but ultimately simple film will be impressed by the scope of Evans’ sequel. If you’ve seen his acclaimed segment from V/H/S 2- SAFE HEAVEN- the evolution of his craft will be immediately apparent. THE RAID 2 has production values that rival any $200 million plus American actioner, but the script is also surprisingly sophisticated, featuring a whole slew of characters that are more three-dimensional than you’d typically find in the genre.
Gareth Evans is the greatest living action filmmaker. This isn’t even up for discussion; anyone who has seen Merentau and The Raid suspected as much, but a viewing ofThe Raid 2 puts the QED at the end of the whole argument. And with The Raid 2 Evans stakes an even larger claim, putting himself into the ranks of the great living filmmakers, full stop. There’s no need to qualify it with a genre at this point – he’s just simply a great filmmaker.
Evans has far surpassed the original in terms of action, and his attempt to match the scope of the sequel’s story with the size of the set pieces is admirable, although it ultimately ends up becoming a distraction. However, that’s a minor complaint because while I can point out the story’s shortcomings, I can’t deny the film’s pure, visceral impact. It’s been over two hours since I saw The Raid 2, and my blood is still pumping and my nerves are still vibrating.
Evans establishes that he can handle any sort of action sequence, not just ones that involve hand-to-hand combat. There’s a car chase in this movie that is tremendous fun, and there are a few moves he pulls that are so technically accomplished that I’m not actually sure what I saw. I can’t wait to dig in and start to take apart the magic trick, but only because it actually makes me admire Evans more, not less.
The action sequences in this film do not simply rival the best of the last, they blow them out of the water. The hits are harder, the kill count is larger, and the gore budget has been raised a few painful notches. The martial arts sequences in particular seem more fleshed out as the fighters, and their custom conceived fighting styles, became increasingly varied.
So far, in fact, there has not been a single review that has been anything other than overwhelmingly positive, with the Raid 2 looking set to be bigger, bolder, faster and more frenetic than its predecessor. Or, in the words of the unnoffical poster that we discovered a couple of weeks ago (which we’re still arguing should be the official one…), The Raid 2 is (according to the reviews so far):
Dave is the Editor of TLFR and a freelance writer. As well as a guest on BBC radio and regular appearances on the television show Reel Review, he has written for The Guardian, We Got This Covered, the International Political Forum and more.