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Here’s how you can I tell I loved The Raid 2: Berandal. After multiple delays stretching numerous days at the South By Southwest Film Festival, Gareth Evans’ massively anticipated Indonesian sequel was relegated to a Midnight screening on a Monday evening. Because nothing starts on time at South By, the movie finally kicked off at 12:30 a.m. Because it runs nearly three full hours, it was after 3 a.m. when we all stumbled out into the streets, pummeled by the expanse of Evans’ story.
And yet, I couldn’t have been more energized – ready to kick some ass and take some names.
That’s what The Raid 2 does. It energizes you. It pumps you full of adrenaline, and begs you to pummel a friend with requests that THEY go see Evans’ movie, as well. This will be nothing new to anyone who managed to see Evans’ cult hit, The Raid, which redefined the action genre in a way the similarly structured Die Hard did decades prior. And like John McTiernan’s seminal action classic, The Raid is spawning sequels that are increasing the stakes and upping the overall game.
Leaving Berandal, I commented on Twitter that the Raid sequel reminded me of The French Connection II, a follow up that took the hero we loved and moved him to new locations, expanding the scope but losing a little of the laser focus of the original film. Now that I’ve had a few days to process it (and catch up on much-needed sleep), I agree with that assessment… even as some are trying to elevate The Raid 2 to a The Godfather Part II pedestal.
Slow down. It’s great. It’s not classic. At least, I don’t quite believe so.
Evans continues to track the progress of Jakarta cop Rama (Iko Uwais), who this time must go undercover to unearth the criminal kingpins who were behind the corrupt apartment building he conquered in the first movie. Evans introduces several new characters – some notable (Hammer Girl and Baseball Bat Man stand out, as you might assume), and some forgettable. There are political subplots weaved through this Raid, bridging the eye-popping action and fight choreography one comes to expect from Evans now.
That amazing, balletic choreography is on display in these new TV spots Sony Pictures Classics just released:
But even they can’t prepare you for the film’s final 45 minutes, which amount to "Boss Fight: The Movie" as Rama marches through waves of indestructible foes trying to get to the top of a vicious pyramid of corruption.
You know that if you saw the original Raid, you are salivating for the sequel. Hopefully you don’t have to jump through the same amount of hoops I had to in Austin. The movie opens in U.S theaters on March 28. Enjoy the new poster while you wait!