As turf wars go, "The Raid 2" make Al Capone's St. Valentine's Day Massacre look like child's play. And though I missed the first film in this series, that didn't interfere with my enjoyment of this sequel.
With primarily an all-Indonesian cast and locations, Welsh-born director Gareth Evans, who also wrote the script, does not spare the bloodshed. In fact, this movie is a bloodbath of epic proportions. If you're at all squeamish about graphic violence in your movies, it'd be best to stay away from this one. Jeanne falls into that category, but mistakenly attended this screening, anyway.
Even the current "300: Rise of an Empire", with its graphic novel style of bloodshed, pales in comparison to "The Raid 2". Coupled with the brutal depictions of martial arts combat, Indonesia-style, it's pretty much over-the-top. But --- once you accept and get past the mayhem and slaughter --- there's a story there, and a good one.
The returning hero, Rama (Iko Uwais), is now an undercover cop who gets in bed with the ruling criminal hierarchy to try and clean up the political and police landscapes. Similar to the Mafia, the Indonesian thugs rule separate territories, and a Japanese contingent controls another area. None of the goons are more intimidating than Bangun (Tio Pakusodewo) and his handsome son, Ucok (Arifin Putra). They are ruthless, and when a family squabble arises, only one can survive.
It's not just the men who are fearsome in Evans' sequel. He hired Julie Estelle to play Hammer Girl, who dispenses of a subway train full of male opponents by wielding, you guessed it, two hammers. Estelle had no martial arts background, but was so impressive during her audition that the director knew she was the one for the part.
The acting by the ensemble cast is actually very capable, the fight choreography well planned. To reveal more would involve spoilers, so if you're in the mood for a ripping good crime thriller, with lots of action and high body counts, this is the ticket.
Opinion: See It Now!