You want hardcore? Here it is: after his extraordinary martial-arts picture The Raid set in gangland Jakarta, Gareth Evans gives us another slice of spleen-splittingly, pelvis-dislodgingly, inner-ear-damagingly hardcore action. He lets rip with everything but subtlety. Evans opens a family-sized can of whupass in your face, having shaken it up well in advance. The sequel may not have the first Raid’s absolute novelty, and the plot is a bit superfluous. But the sheer mayhem-stamina of this followup is really staggering. I found myself every five minutes yelping “Owww!” like James Brown at the beginning of Get Up Offa That Thing. The mass brawl in the rainy, muddy prison yard is amazing, like something by Kurosawa.
As before, Evans hoovers up influence from Park Chan-wook, Takeshi Kitano and Andrew Lau and Alan Mak, directors of the original Hong Kong thriller Infernal Affairs. We are back in Indonesia, and Iko Uwais returns as Rama, the cop who goes deep undercover, getting sent to jail so that he can cosy up to the imprisoned son of a Jakarta crime baron, and then join his crew – to infiltrate the whole setup. While in the joint, Rama works out by punching a human-shaped outline chalked on the cell wall, doing so with typewriter rapidity and wrecking-ball force. It’s wince-making and mesmeric. The Raid is arguably a bit on the long side, but Evans doesn’t believe in letting any time go by without uncorking a gobsmacking action sequence, any one of which would be the centrepiece of a lesser movie. Whoa!