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— Kathy Bates, Titanic

MRQE Top Critic

Noi Albinoi

Mystery and ambivalence about this Bleak portrait of isolation are amplified on DVD —Marty Mapes (DVD review...)

Noi the Albino spends winter in Iceland alone

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I probably should be ashamed of myself, but I couldn’t totally resist a brutal action film with a brother/sister team of assailants called Hammer Girl and Baseball Bat Man.

If you know that director Gareth Evans’ martial arts-oriented thriller is set in Indonesia and you’re familiar with The Raid: Redemption (also directed by Evans), you don’t need much by way of information about this bruising second helping of physical mayhem.

Hammer Girl attacks
Hammer Girl attacks

In The Raid: Redemption, a Jakarta SWAT team stormed a building occupied by ruthless killers. Here, the action spreads across the whole city.

It’s impossible to watch The Raid 2 without feeling as if you’ve been beaten up yourself. The flying fists and lethal kicks arrive with so much fury that it would be a gross understatement to call the action “over the top.”

The main character in this frequently savage concoction is Rama (Iko Uwais), a cop who we met in the first installment. This time, Rama is coerced into taking an undercover assignment as a soldier in the army of a gang lord named Bungun (Tio Pakusodewo).

To accomplish his task, Rama — sent to prison to establish his gangster cred — must win the confidence of Bungun’s son Uco (Arifin Putra).

An ambitious hothead, Uco thinks it’s time for him to replace his father, a crime lord who has fostered an era of peace with his Japanese rival Mr. Goto (Kenichi Endo).

A third gangster, the oily Bejo (Alex Abbad) also wants a piece of the action.

Raid 2 chalks up assaultive accomplishments with piston-like efficiency.

Among its more memorable battles: a fight in a muddy prison yard and a subway confrontation with Hammer Girl (Julie Estelle).

Much of the action is well done, but at a two-and-a-half hour length, it’s difficult not to wonder whether even martial arts fans will find Raid 2 excessive. Alternately bracing and bruising, Raid 2 can be impressive without always being fun.

Put another way: I frequently found myself unsure whether to applaud or beg for mercy.