Power Raid

This sequel to the Indonesian martial-arts gem is even bigger and badder.
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Posted April 9, 2014 by KRISTIAN LIN in Film
Iko Uwais and Cecep Arif Rahman go at each other with curved blades in a restaurant kitchen in The Raid 2.Iko Uwais and Cecep Arif Rahman go at each other with curved blades in a restaurant kitchen in The Raid 2.

When I reviewed The Raid: Redemption two years ago, I asked, “When was the last time you saw a badass Indonesian film?” Many people chose that martial-arts film as their maiden experience, and so we have the sequel The Raid 2. Having seen it, I’m now convinced that these are the best martial-arts movies being made right now. They’re certainly the most brutal.

The sequel picks up shortly after the events of the first movie, as heroic silat-fighting cop Rama (Iko Uwais) is taken into protective custody by an internal affairs officer (Cok Simbara) who tasks him with going undercover and infiltrating Jakarta’s biggest homegrown gang, run by a businesslike boss (Tio Pakusodewo). Rama winds up getting more action than he bargained for, as the boss’ impatient son (Arifin Putra) makes a power grab that results in deadly infighting within the gang and draws in both cops on the take and Japanese yakuza who control the city’s other half.

Welsh-Indonesian director Gareth Huw Evans is back for this go-around, and he’s obviously better funded than in the first movie, where he was restricted to a single setting. He puts his resources to use in some scenes in opulent Kubrickian hotel ballrooms, but his low-tech creative touch remains very much with him. You can see this in a massive car chase that he stages, as another cop (Oka Antara) has his windows shot out and the camera flies through his car onto the road and into the car that’s pursuing him. He changes up the settings of the combat sequences effectively as well. An early scene with Rama fending off a bunch of guys from a cramped toilet stall is followed up by him defending the crime boss’ son in a huge open-air prison riot. In a 150-minute movie with 19 fight scenes, this sort of variety is crucial.

Additionally, Evans throws intriguing villains into Rama’s path. Yayan Ruhian, who portrayed the main villain in the original movie, is here resurrected as a different character, an ethically conflicted hit man. His moves are good to have, but he’s very much a supporting player here. A brother-sister act (Very Tri Yulisman and Julie Estelle) who fight respectively with a baseball bat and two hammers get scenes together as well as memorable solo turns — Estelle hacks her way through eight yakuza armed with knives, while Yulisman hits one gangster so many times so quickly from so many different angles that his poor victim stays on his feet. Rama’s fight against the siblings seems like the centerpiece of the movie, but then it’s immediately followed by a clash with an even more ruthless assassin (Cecep Arif Rahman). Uwais has lost none of his lethal speed, and he and fellow fight choreographer Ruhian come up with all sorts of creative ways to kill Rama’s enemies, some of whom meet their ends at the hands of a car door or a barbecue grill. Evans and his team seem to be out to top themselves with each successive scene, and their ethos drives The Raid 2 to dizzying heights. What will they ever do for an encore?

 

The Raid 2

Starring Iko Uwais and Arifin Putra. Written and directed by Gareth Huw Evans. Rated R.

 

Starring Iko Uwais and Arifin Putra. Written and directed by Gareth Huw Evans. Rated R.


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