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The Raid 2

It would fill in a few plot details, but you don’t need to have seen 2012’s The Raid to enjoy this sequel, in which the plot is about the last item of interest.

Raiding my review of the original, I see a fair amount that I can repeat verbatim:

People who hate subtitled movies are the perfect audience for [this] Indonesian action spectacular with subtitles. It is to the aesthetic credit of distributor Sony Classics, an outfit that usually specializes in arthouse fare, that they chose to release this in the US in its original language rather than redubbing it into English: As any fan of martial arts movies knows, it is pretty much impossible to dub an Asian film well enough not to be a distraction…Star Iko Uwais is a master of a traditional Indonesian martial art form called pencak silat, which I presume means “simultaneously flailing all four limbs as fast as humanly possibly so that anyone near you is bound to be hit by at least one of them.”

Having survived the battle that pitted him and some fellow cops against an apartment building populated entirely by bad guys, rookie cop Rama (Uwais) is forced to go deep undercover in an effort to root out bad cops in the employ of ganglord Bangun (Tio Pakusadewo). This involves two years in prison getting in the good graces of Bangun’s upstart son Uco (Arifin Putra), who makes Rama his chief bodyguard when they’re released.

But there I go with plot again. The first third of The Raid 2 is spent in so many grimy, decrepit buildings as to make you think it’s going to be a replay of the original. But director Gareth Evans is here taking a full-scale shot for international recognition, and sets out to show that he can wreak chaos in any setting, as small as a prison toilet or the inside of a car up to prison yards, trains, and restaurant kitchens.

And when I say chaos, I mean the most brutal kind of combat imaginable. Guns are at a minimum; other weapons occasionally crop up, most amusingly in the hands of two combatants identified only as “Hammer Girl” and “Baseball Bat Man,” which tells you all you need to know about them. (Well, almost: The latter is also armed with a baseball.)

But most of the fighting is hand-to-hand—and hand-to-skull, hand-to-knee, foot-to-knee, foot-to-backbone, etc., all accompanied by excruciatingly realistic sound effects and no CGI. Rama regularly takes on large groups of opponents, and Evans’s one failing as an action director is that he regularly indulges in that age-old cop out, the gang that loses to a single opponent because they come at him one at a time. (You would have thought that Oldboy, either Park Chan-wook original or Spike Lee’s recent remake, with its startlingly plausible one-man-against-a-group scene, would have laid that to rest.)

It’s overlong at two and one half hours and utterly ridiculous, but perfectly straightfaced. Unless you hate this kind of thing, you’ll love it.

Watch the trailer for The Raid 2

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