'The Raid 2' review: Something wild for the martial arts fans

Rating

4 Stars4/5

Liz Braun, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 2:13 PM ET

You kind of need to be comfortable with blood spatter and evisceration — can we just spell this out? — to enjoy The Raid 2: Berandal, a relentlessly violent drama set in the criminal underworld of Jakarta.

Picking up where The Raid: Redemption left off two years ago, this martial arts extravaganza continues to follow the fortunes of Rama (Iko Uwais), the last clean cop in town. Having fought his way past criminals and crooked officers to escape that claustrophobic tenement in the first movie, Rama now discovers that he has to go deep undercover to finish the job — and to protect his wife and child. He has to infiltrate a Jakarta crime family, and it's a gig that starts in prison. There, Rama has the chance to ingratiate himself by protecting Uco (Arifin Putra), the incarcerated son of a powerful criminal.

Back on the outside, Rama is accepted into the crime family and goes to work for Uco's father, Bangun (Tio Pakusadewo). One of Rama's jobs is to keep an eye on Uco; his buddy is a hothead who is keen to take over his own father's territory.

Rama risks his life to play this double game, and the tension is harrowing throughout. The Raid 2 is set up as a story about fathers and sons; parallel to the toxic relationship between Bangun and his ambitious son Uco is Rama's troubled relationship with his corrupt police superiors. He's not sure who he can trust, if anyone.

The situation is not unlike that of Leonardo DiCaprio's character in The Departed.

Onto this foundation of endless menace and dread, filmmaker Gareth Evans builds fight scenes, car chases and cliffhanger escape scenarios that are unlike anything else out there. The martial arts fight scenes are masterpieces of balletic choreography and bone-crunching violence, endlessly inventive and completely riveting (although often difficult to watch). There are also exhilarating little violence detours in the story — here's a pretty girl who kills with twin claw hammers, and there's a young guy who uses an all-American bat and ball to do the same.

People's heads are busted, bashed, blown off and barbecued. The violence is completely over-the-top.

We mean that in the best way.

The Raid 2 involves a handful of fight scenes that will make martial arts fans ecstatic, including an intense, extended brawl in a restaurant kitchen and a punch-up inside a car that's simultaneously involved in a chaotic chase. And it all unfolds without the usual high-speed-blur editing typical of action sequences. The filmmaker has described the meticulous planning that goes into these fights, and the way they're shot and edited lets you believe you're seeing exactly what's going on at every moment. That adds a ghastly level of verisimilitude that's frankly fantastic to witness.

Well, even if you do find you've instinctively got your hands over your eyes a fair bit.

Twitter: @LizBraunSun

Liz.braun@sunmedia.ca

 

 


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