I have a few other reviews in the works, but I really wanted to get this one out because I am not sure how long The Raid 2 will be in theaters and that it was so awesome... all must know!
Note: I really haven't given much away spoiler-wise, so don't worry!
The Raid 2
I wasn't sure they could do it, but The Raid 2 actually outdid its predecessor. Not only did they ramp up the violence, but we got more kick ass martial art fights, an amazing car chase and some ridiculously awesome characters. The story was also better. Where The Raid: Redemption is a straight up action movie, The Raid 2 is more of a gangster movie merged with a martial arts action flick. The result is a highly entertaining, adrenaline fueled experience.
The Raid 2 picks up right where the last film ended. Rama ends up going undercover into Jakarta's criminal underworld in the hopes of exposing corrupt cops. In the process, he gets caught in the middle of a mob war and things go crazy. The sequel obviously had a bigger budget than the first as there were many locations used (rather than just a high-rise) with sometimes elaborate sets. There were also a lot of cars wrecked and pretty much an entire kitchen destroyed in an insane end battle with the number one henchman Andi.
As for memorable characters, Raid 2 has several. Beyond the sickle welding Andi, we got Hammer Girl, a deaf woman who viciously fights with a pair of hammers. It's as brutal as it sounds. She is joined by "Baseball Bat Man," a deranged fighter who drags a metal baseball bat with him. Beyond using that weapon, he also can hit a baseball with deadly accuracy at his opponents... an interesting take on a 'sniper.' A word of warning, if he asks for his baseball back, you best give it to him.
Jonny and I were delighted to see the return of Yayan Ruhian, who played Mad Dog in the last film. The man is an immensely talented martial artist and was the standout villain of the Redemption, bringing with him a screen presence of pure intimidation. Ruhian, like in the last film, is the fight choreographer... which is why the fights are so awesome. In this movie, he plays a different character (kind of had to... Mad Dog couldn't make it to the sequel) named Prakoso, a sympathetic mob hit man who's also an unmitigated bad ass. He isn't the main villain this time, but make no mistake he is a major scene stealer!
My biggest gripe was that whomever did the subtitling needed to allot more time for the audience to actually read the dialogue. This wasn't a constant problem, but at times it did make the plot harder to follow. Unlike the last film, the subtitles are pretty important to understand what is going on. For those who have issues with subtitles, I would recommend waiting for the Blu-Ray release that, like Redemption, will probably have an English dub.
The Raid 2 is a must see for any action or martial arts movie fan. Like I said, I think its better than The Raid: Redemption... which is no small feat. That movie was frickin' awesome to begin with. Seriously, go see The Raid 2 before it leaves theaters. I can't recommend this movie enough.
Jonny's Contribution - I can't decide which psychotic hench-woman I would rather sleep with and then inevitably be murdered by... Go-Go Yubari (from Kill Bill) or Hammer Girl.
Seeing as how they're both fictional characters, how about both at once?
Seriously? I didn't know that was an option! Make sure to tell everyone at my funeral exactly how I died! I want my eulogy to brag, dammit!