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Sundance: The Raid 2: Raid Harder

From the Sundance Film Festival here is Glenn on the bone-crunching 'The Raid 2: Berandal'

"It doesn't end, does it?" asks a character in the excessively bloated sequel, The Raid 2: Berandal. He's talking about the depth of Indonesia's underworld, but I choose to take it literally and out of context, okay?! Fans of Gareth Evans' 2011 original will likely find nothing wrong in this film's 150-minute runtime - it's 9.7/10 IMDb rating only two days after its world premiere suggests just that - but as somebody who had hoped the original's 0% body fat take on the action movie formula would be given time to breathe and open up with the extended runtime, I was severely disappointed. 


Much like The Raid (which absurdly went by The Raid: Redemption in the US), Evans' sequel sees a cop battle a seemingly endless stream of villains amongst the Indonesian underworld with little else in between. Funnily enough, it reminded me most of all of Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street, which I also didn't like. Both are excessively indulgent and monotonous films that sap all the potential fun out of their concepts. The Raid 2 doesn't even allow its actors to revel in their villainry although I did get some enjoyment out of Ken'ichi Endô looking like Willem Dafoe. Likewise, the brief performance of Julie Estelle as "Hammer Girl" is fun and I'm tempted to compare her to a lesser Gogo Yubari from Quentin Tarantino's Kill Bill Vol 1 (a film with about ten times the amount of colour, style, fun and pizazz as The Raid 2). 

Of course, looking for anything other than bone-crunching violence in one of these films is ultimately silly and futile. 150 minutes of almost constant nihilistic violence isn't my idea of a good time, although my crowd was certainly into it with clapping, laughing and hollering throughout. The action choreography is certainly impressive, there's little denying that, but eventually becomes little more than a processions of swinging fists and kicks. I enjoyed the lone, spectacularly filmed car chase sequence because it was at least a change of pace and allowed the eyes something different to concentrate on. 

Still, when characters take on the consistency of zombies, constantly getting up and fighting despite broken bones and gushing blood, it becomes hard to take any of it seriously. It was also eye-rolling worthy to see the film's hero so routinely saved at the last second by a gunman running out of bullets just as it looked like his number was up. The blood flows freely and the pulsating film score rarely gives you a moment of peace, all adding up to a sequel that took all the of the original worst habits and amplifies them. For many, I guess that will not be a problem. For me, however...

Grade: D+
Distribution: March through Sony Pictures Classics 

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Reader Comments (19)

Great news, because I would not be up for a sequel to The Raid if Glenn Dunks liked it. Can't wait til March!

January 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterJohnny

it seem you're not into action or violence movie, you come to cinema and watch the movie only for job, so your review not valid for me, I still want to see this...

btw that poster pic of baseball bat guy is fan made and the person is not in the movie (he just a fan), as a person who ever watched the movie how come you can't determine them?

January 25, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterronin

I've seen plenty of people who liked the first film who HATED this, so I think dumping on Glenn for not liking is not really about **him**. I mean the film is longer and there were reported walk-outs.

January 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

From what I've heard the walkout were mostly about people not being able to handle the violence not that they don't like the movie. Then again, most people who are expecting less than graphic violence in a sequel to a very violent movie is just moronic in my opinion. Those people are probably pussies who never been into a fight in their whole life.

January 25, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterbarran

I like action movies, just not 150 minutes straight of ugly, nihilistion action and violence. As I said, I'd hope the longer runtime would have allowed the action more time to breath, alas it did not. I know I'm in the minority, but several other critics have come out of the woodwork to say they didn't like it. Regarding the poster, there are so many characters in that movie with so many weapons (there is indeed a baseball bat guy) it's hard to keep track of what's fan made and what's not (it certainly looks real enough, which is props to the guy who did it - I'll keep it up for that reason).

If you think I or anybody else reviews movies just "for a job" (and spend hundreds of dollars doing so at a festival like Sundance to do so) then you're sorely mistaken.

January 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn

"Those people are probably pussies who never been into a fight in their whole life."

And you have? I've seen people get sick in front of me but that doesn't mean I won't get queasy if something in that realm is presented on film.

January 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterCMG

Damn , you funny man !
I guess Expendables / Avengers is your idea of an action movie.

January 25, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterX

I think I should thank you for the bad review. It is at least lower my expectation. Seeing the Imdb ratings and all the praises the other critics have showered this movie makes my expectation jumps astronomical high. I don't want to expect too much and then get disappointed.

January 25, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterlintang

you're a funny-man Glenn, i think you are still shaking huh?? you need a doctor? i think you needed! lol, you're a man who like seem movie just in uncut version, just my opinion: i think u just like PG movie!! LoooooLLL

January 25, 2014 | Unregistered Commentercool

Despite the fact that "X" and "cool" are likely the same person, I'm a bit ashamed that it was so easy to surmise that I have never been in a fight. Gee, am I blushing from all of the embarrassment.

For what it's worth, the violence isn't anything anybody who's watched gory horror movies before hasn't seen already.

January 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn

"Funnily enough, it reminded me most of all of Martin Scorsese's The Wolf of Wall Street, which I also didn't like."

pretty much sums it up: you didn't like good movies, we can't blame you for that.

January 26, 2014 | Unregistered Commenteroddo

For what it's worth, the director Gareth Evans himself thinks y'all need to calm down.

January 26, 2014 | Registered CommenterGlenn Dunks

Yea right calm the f down everyone geez i cant believe some people over reacting to the comment of some no name so-called reviewer who clearly doesnt have a thing for action movies

January 26, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterrain372

I think I can safely say nobody has ever come to The Film Experience for their appreciation of genre martial arts films. Not exactly Outlaw Vern here.

January 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterAlanRichmond

I'm just glad being a film lover doesn't mean subscribing to the theory that every film of a genre must be good or bad. There are variants and degrees at work.

January 26, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterGlenn

Did i say its against the rules for someone who has no appreciation for action movies to go watching action movies? Nope,didnt say that,what i said is he can go watched it and make negative review bout it or whatever,but just ignore people like this,dont go mocking him or whatever when you yourself already know its his opinion,not a fact and everyone is entitled to one.So stop bashing on negative reviewer like this,its useless.Every action goer knows exactly what a good action movie is and they dont really need to care about some reviewer opinion or whatsoever;)

January 26, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterrain372

You wrote: "endless streams of villains, HG is fun, bone-crunching and constant nihilistic violence, action choreography is impressive, spectacular film car chase, a sequel that took all the original and amplifies them"...clearly those are what the raid fans hoped for. You also wrote "Of course, looking for anything other than bone-crunching violence in one of these films is ultimately silly and futile", you are aware of it and yet you still give it a "D"? Exactly, what are you looking for in this kind of film? It makes you sound "ultimately silly and futile" as you said.

Gareth is right, if this is not your cup of tea and you didn't review it for the sake of your job or to be the first reviewer, there are tons of movie you could enjoy. Thanks for the review anyway, whether you are aware of it or not, you've made the film sound so good to hate :)

January 27, 2014 | Unregistered Commenteradhip

well said adhip.

January 27, 2014 | Unregistered CommenterTommorrow-Mike

Very well said adhip.

January 29, 2014 | Unregistered Commenterrokhad

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