5 out of 5
This sequel of The Raid (Serbuan Maut) surely packs a hell lot of punches, with ouch factor that doubles its prequel. Sets right after the end of the first film, do-gooder SWAT member Rama is faced with an opportunity he can’t refuse. A deep cover mission to infiltrate a network of gangs and reveal corrupt policemen who are involved. To do so, Rama musts pretend to be a streetsmart hooligan and thrown to prison.
There, he meets Uco, spoiled yet ambitious son of a notorious gangster named Bangun. Rama, under a disguise named Yuda, soon finds himself to be Uco’s right-hand-man. The duo begin to develops an unlikely and fatal friendship.
Raid 2 is filled with adrenaline and jawdropping action scenes. I mean, who can deny the power of that literally bloody awesome fight scene between Rama (Iko Uwais) and The Assassin (Cecep Arif Rahman). Eleven minutes of pure violent pleasure in a wideshot and spinning camera. Gareth Evans the director really raise a new bar for action films here.
The cinematography is good. Evans’ eyes as a foreigner looking at Jakarta give fresh approach to what the city looks like. Although, since I’m familiar with the locations used in the film, I’m a bit piqued with the car chase scene. It jumps from one place to the other, but the shoots still work nevertheless. Also, the part in which Prakoso meets his end. There’s snow in Jakarta, which I think is a good way to portray the feelings that Prakoso has before he falls onto his knees. It adds a beautiful and surreal atmostphere to the story.
The film is peppered with high profile actors, both Indonesians and Japanese. Iko Uwais is cementing his status as an action star. So far, there are only 3 action stars who make on-screen kicking and punching look really really hurt: Donny Yen, Tony Jaa, and now Iko. Plus, Iko seemed to have practised his articulation in Raid 2. He was practically gargling in the first film.
In the muscle department there is Yayan Ruhian as eccentric hitman, Prakoso. Yayan was playing baddie in Raid, who was really annoying and almost impossible to kill. But in here, there is softness in his performance. His character, Prakoso, is nicely layered between a loyal hitman, a loving father, and a broken man. Pretty lady Julie Estelle plays Hammer Girl, a deaf-mute and half blind goon, armed with a pair of clawhammers. Very Tri Yulisman plays Baseball Bat Man, Hammer Girl’s older brother. These on-screen siblings create a dynamic performance, although they barely open their mouths.
In the brain departement, stars are plenty. Who would’ve thought that party boy Alex Abbad can deliver a slick performance as smooth-talking self-made gangster Bejo? Tio Pakusadewo and Cok Simbara, few of senior actors in the film are giving solid performances as gangster boss Bangun and head of internal affairs Bunawar, respectively.
There is Oka Antara as Eka, Bangun’s trustfull sidekick. He never disappoints. Kenichi Endo, Ryuhei Matsuda, and Kazuki Kitamura play the Goto crime family. Not much are said about them in here, perhaps Gareth Evans is saving them for the sequel. Then… there’s Arifin Putra. I have follow his tracks in cinema, this guy is consistently good. His performance as Uco is unbelievable. Sleek, ruthless, fragile, and irritating at the same time. Be happy, Indonesia. We have very promising character actors in our pockets.