'Raid 2': Martial arts mayhem

Iko Uwais and Cecep Arif Rahman show the strong suit of the "Raid" films: fighting.
Iko Uwais and Cecep Arif Rahman show the strong suit of the "Raid" films: fighting.
Posted: April 11, 2014

NEW radar data indicates that the missing Malaysian airliner detoured around Indonesia, and "Raid 2: Berandal" gives you some idea why.

This hyperviolent Indonesian action movie doubles down on all the elements in the cult hit original, "Raid: Redemption" - essentially the story of what appears to be the country's last honest cop, waging a one-man war against the forces of organized crime and co-opted law enforcement. Both movies depict Indonesia as a rolling mob war with civilization somewhere in the distant background (the word "berandal" is Indonesian for "hooligan").

The original hooked you with its inventive action, but also its simplicity. A small force of policemen fought their way up the floors of a mob-owned apartment complex - an intoxicating mix of "Die Hard" and "Enter the Dragon."

"Berandal" finds director Gareth Evans (evidently working with a vastly larger budget) becoming more ambitious and operatic (read: longer) - borrowing lustily from "The Godfather" trilogy, "Scarface" and "The Departed" (and its Pacific Rim original).

Here, his hero cop (Iko Uwais) goes undercover as a henchman to a ruthlessly ambitious son (Arifin Putra) of a crime boss (Tio Pakusodewo) known for keeping the peace among Indonesia's five (or is it 500?) families.

That peace is already in danger, courtesy of a psychotic upstart (Alex Abbad), who has a violent disregard for the territories and traditions of the established crime syndicates - a brashness that seems to stem from his colorful army of assassins, all of whom the undercover officer must eventually face in hand-to-hand combat.

These fight sequences are the basic DNA of the "Raid" movies, and their effectiveness hasn't diminished. Evans layers on some nifty car chases, and if bigger were better "Berandal" would be better.

But in extending the reach of his concept, Evans feels like he's reaching, and after 2 1/2 hours of mayhem, you may be homesick for the appealing simplicity of the original.

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