Believer 2 Review – A gritty sequel that never quite matches the original

By Lori Meek
Published: November 17, 2023 (Last updated: 2 weeks ago)
Believer 2 Review
Believer 2 | Image via Netflix


While not as good as the first movie, this is a solid thriller with plenty of gratuitous violence and a compelling story.

Believer 2 was commissioned by Netflix after the first film’s theatrical success in 2018. Directed by Baek Jong-yul, the gritty action movie premiered last month at the 28th Busan International Film Festival before dropping on the streaming platform. Several stars from the first film reprise their roles, including Cho Jin-woong and Cha Seung-won. 

This film isn’t exactly a sequel, as it shows the events leading up to that final scene in Believer. The movie follows Detective Won-ho and Rak’s relentless pursuit of the mysterious Mr. Lee. It also introduces a new villain with a close connection to the elusive drug lord.  

Believer 2 review and plot summary

Where the ending of Believer heavily implied that Rak was Mr. Lee all along, Believer 2 starts by quickly dismissing the theory. The first few scenes show Rak and his two deaf-mute chemists, Dong-Young and Joo-Young, putting together a plan to get to the real drug kingpin by stealing raw materials from a now worse-for-wear Brian to make more of the Laika drug.

The police captain is content letting the public believe that a captured Brian was Mr. Lee all along and orders Won-ho to back off the investigation. But Won-ho is convinced Rak is the elusive drug lord and will stop at nothing to bring him to justice. 

RELATED: Why isn’t Ryu Jun-yeol in Believer 2?

Brian is back in the game despite his injuries after his lackeys broke him out of hospital. The first thing he does is arrange for the deranged Seob So-chen, aka Big Knife, who works closely with Mr. Lee, to travel from China and help him get revenge on Rak for his injuries. 

Believer 2 is a fast-paced and delightfully gritty thriller where obsession meets the dangerous underbelly of the drug trade. However, the first film was excellent and had what can only be described as a perfectly ambiguous ending. I’m unsure why this sequel needed to happen. 

The film does jump around a lot between locations and timelines, making it a bit confusing to follow. While watching, I had to pause and re-watch certain parts, which wasn’t ideal. 

Why Believer 2 is worth watching on Netflix

The performances are solid, especially Oh Seung-hoon, who replaced Ryu Jun-yeol as Rak. He does a great job portraying the character’s complex motives for wanting to find the elusive Mr. Lee. 

The movie also introduces the “real” Mr. Lee, played by Tzi Ma, who does not get enough screen time. Considering how much time these characters spend looking for him, by the time we get to the big reveal, it feels like an afterthought. 

RELATED: Will there be a Believer 3?

Arguably, the best performance of the feature goes to Han Hyo-joo as the violently deranged Big Knife with a penchant for decapitation. While the film never delves too deep into her character, Hyo-joo’s portrayal is unsettling and terrifying. 

Like its predecessor, the film offers plenty of gratuitous violence while adding layers and twists to its story. The fight scenes look perfectly choreographed and there’s enough gore included to make the most hardened horror fans squirm. It may not be as good as the first movie, but it’s still a highly entertaining watch. 

What did you think of Believer 2? Comment below.

RELATED: Believer 2 Ending Explained

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2 thoughts on “Believer 2 Review – A gritty sequel that never quite matches the original

  • November 18, 2023 at 8:08 am

    1st of all,this film is a sequel to a remake- Johnnie To’s classic, made-in-the-PRC action film DRUG WAR. The thing about Believer ,and Drug War, was there were so many double and triple crosses it was confusing,but it didn’t matter because both these films were driven by awesome characters, master-level production and outrageous body counts and violence.
    Which is where this sequel kinda falls flat….you get all those things,it just doesn’t land the same way. If I’m being honest it feels more like a run of the mill shoot-em-up Korean action movie (like VETERAN) ,with occasional moments of brilliance (u will know them when u see them). Def worth 2 hrs of your time,just not the home run I thought it would be
    Watch DRUG WAR again or for the 1st time,and see a near-flawless movie.

  • November 18, 2023 at 8:33 am

    I dont like the new Rak, he’s not nearly as attractive so all long closeups of him aren’t fun. I also don’t think he has the same mysterious yet calming presence. It took me a few minutes to even figure out HE was supposed to be Rak… even after he said he was…I thought he’s one of Rak’s minions pretending to be him to throw off Brian’s henchmen and that the REAL Rak would show up later.

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