I don't care that The Raid 2 runs 2 1/2 hours. I don't care that it's spectacularly, unapologetically, borderline-insanely violent. I don't care that it's over-plotted to a degree that might require a few helpful diagrams. I understand how any and all of those things might be a deal-breaker for any given viewer. But Gareth Evans—following up his 2012 action spectacle—simply choreographs action as well as any other filmmaker currently alive on the planet, and it's impossible not to recognize when you're in the hands of an absolute master.
This time around, he sticks The Raid's hero, Rama (Iko Uwais), undercover in a Jakarta crime syndicate in an attempt to find out the identities of the crooked cops that are protecting their rackets. There's a whole mess of business going on—putting Rama in prison for two years to prove his bona fides; conflict between one crime boss and his ambitious son; a staged murder designed to ignite war between rival crime families—and it's hard not to engage in a little toe-tapping while Evans sets all his dominoes in place.
But once he starts knocking them down—with kicks, claw hammers, baseball bats, fry-top surfaces, broken bottles, etc.—it's a dizzying experience. The one-building setting of The Raid may have offered a streamlined "get out alive" concept, but this time around we get a chance to see that Evans not only can craft remarkable punch-and-crunch hand-to-hand combat, but also can construct one humdinger of a car chase.
Those martial-arts donnybrooks, though: Let's just say that this spiritual son of the Shaw Brothers and Quentin Tarantino scales glorious heights of over-the-top punishment. Your too-much-ness mileage may certainly vary; there are those who respond to a guy getting his limbs snapped with queasiness, and those who respond with a burst of laughter. To the latter, I can only say: Welcome aboard. CW
THE RAID 2