Great sequels are rare. Great sequels within the time span of a month are rarer than gold but it's something that has really happened this month!
It's like lightning hitting twice. First "Captain America: The Winter Soldier" and now "The Raid 2: Berandal". Now, I won't say that the movie is better than "Serbuan maut" but then again, both movies are quite hard to compare in my opinion, since they are each doing some great and unique different things on its own.
It's still undeniably a real sequel to "Serbuan maut" in the sense that the story picks up right after the events of the first movie. It also still is a very similar movie in style and tone but story-wise, it's taking a different turn with things.
It's of course always a complaint with action movies that the story never is a very solid- or well written one and that it's often filled with some gaping plot lines, inconsistencies and improbabilities. To a certain extend, all of that applies to this movie as well but at the same time it's also obvious that some real effort went into writing this movie and it also really paid off. Thing I especially liked about the movie and its story was that it wasn't limiting itself to just one person. It's actually following a whole bunch of characters and side-plots, that each work out as interesting for the movie. It makes the movie a well layered one and all of the characters are fleshed out pretty well as well.
I still admit though that the movie becomes a bit convoluted with its story at parts but at the same time, the movie never drags or annoys, despite the fact that it's almost 2 and a half hours long, which is extremely long for any type of action movie.
Besides not limiting itself to just 1 main character, it also doesn't limit itself to one main location, unlike its predecessor of course. This is something some people perhaps are going to dislike- and feel disappointed with. After all, it was one of the things that made the first movie such a great and classic one. But then again, even more people probably would have complained about it if this movie would have done exactly the same thing as its predecessor again. This movie most definitely is not a rehash of the first movie and as far as sequels go, this is definitely one of the more fresher ones.
A lot of action directors and studio executives should be taking notes from this movie, or they at least should be wondering to themselves how it's possible that a movie from Indonesia, starring no major actors in it and without a monstrous budget, is so popular and appeals to some many people from all across the globe, even those who aren't too big on martial arts movies.
It definitely pays off to be creative and to approach ever scene and all of the writing with lots of care and thought, as the film-makers behind this movie all obviously did. The movie is especially creative with all of its action. It's never featuring any explosions or big, extensive, gun fights but it nevertheless works out as a very exciting and spectacular movie. All of the action- and especially fight scenes in particular, are shot and choreographed extremely well. Even though you know that all of it is fake, it still looks extremely realistic and painful all. You can almost feel it when a person gets kicked or hit in the head with an object.
The movie in general is a very well shot one, with some great visuals and an overall style and atmosphere. The cinematography is great and so are all of the sets and settings. It's obvious that they had a slighter bigger budget to spend this time around, which they spent well and not just on all of its action.
Won't say that it's better or worse than the first movie but it's simply just a wonderful, creative and spectacular action movie on its own, with some great visuals and memorable fight sequences and other thrilling action in it.