The Shadow League Movie Review: The Raid 2

So, you say you like martial arts films, huh?  You don’t have any problems reading subtitles, do you? You said you like seeing people get their mugs pushed in with agonizing slow-motion shots and excruciating detail? Well, the Raid 2 is most definitely for you. Indonesian superstar Iko Uwais (The Raid: Redemption) returns as Rama, a rookie cop who is drawn into a world of crime and corruption.

Written and directed by Gareth Evans (The Raid: Redemption), The Raid 2 opens with heroic protagonist Rama, played by Iko Uwais, being wooed by the policeto go undercover to crack a criminal organization controlled by Bangun (played by Tio Pakusodewo), an infamous crime lord who maintains a tenuous balance with his rivals to share control of Jakarta’s underworld. His enemies are many and ambitious, but Bangun has proven to be very good at turning honest cops over to his side. 

As part of the ploy to infiltrate the operation, Rama’s family is sent into protective custody as he begins his assignment by getting arrested and sent to a correctional facility where Bangun’s son Uco (Arifin Putra) is incarcerated in order to earn his trust as a conduit into the inner workings of the criminal organization.  From the very moment Rama enters the prison he is accosted by Uco’s henchman, though he does not know to whom they owe their allegiance at the time he’s busting their skulls with deadly precision. Later Rama is approached by Uco who seeks to recruit him based upon hearing word of his incredible exploits, as well as seeing firsthand what Rama’s fist did to the faces of some of his toughest henchman.  

Everything is going according to plan until a fight in the prison yard forces Rama to severely injure a dozen or so combatants who were trying to kill Uco. What was initially supposed to be a three month mission would turn into three years. After his release from prison, Rama is picked up by Uco and immediately begins working for Uco’s father Bangun. Upon meeting Bangun, Rama realizes that the man he has been told was a ruthless mobster and a killer was actually a polite and honorable business man. Well, he was about as polite and honorable as a mobster can afford to be in that line of work.  

But as Rama goes deeper and deeper undercover he realizes the true threat to public safety is not Bangun, but the ambitious and diabolical Uco. Raid 2 is an action film above anything else. That is its bread and butter. Though there are several memorable gun fights, a handful of confrontations featuring edged weapons and a car chase or two, the hand-to-hand combat scenes are without peer.   To say Rama is nice with the hands is a bit of a misnomer.  Driven by the need to see his wife and child, Rama wards off what appears to be unsurmountable pain to fight through an endless wave of bad guys who are intent on seeing him battered, bloodied and broken.

Now, I ain’t one to be throwing spoiler alerts around, but I have to mention some pretty cool characters. First off, keep an eye out for the mysterious Hammer Girl (Julie Estelle) and her companion Baseball Bat Man (Very Tri Yulisman). As their names illustrate, they run around pounding on combatants with a hammer and baseball bat, respectively. The diabolical girl-boy hit squad is the favorite of rival gang leader Bejo (Alex Abbad) and are featured prominently. Another character who is pretty dope in his own right is Prankoso, played by Yayan Ruhian, Bangun’s favorite hit man. He and the film’s protagonist never fight one another, but the character is filled with humanity as he draws in the viewer like no secondary character should. That’s saying something considering he’s a murderous, machete-wielding psychopath.

Through it all, the big martial arts climax between Rama and The Assassin, the top “cleaner” for Bejo, is brewing and they don’t disappoint either with a final reckoning that is worth the ticket. It's an artfully-crafted fight scene. The true benefactor of the entire lurid scheme is revealed at the end of the film in a bit of a twist. Part of me wished there was more. More carnage, more mayhem, more massacres.

I’m going to be straight up and down honest with you. The Raid 2 is drenched in blood, guts and violence. If you’re thinking about bringing your girlfriend or wife, don’t. If you’re pondering taking your child to see it, then think again. However, if you feel like taking a non-stop thrill ride through the streets of Jakarta like a bat out of hell then, by all means, go see this film.  The Raid 2 does not disappoint. 



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