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Serbuan Maut / The Raid was a very compact and intense bit of film making, almost like a video game where the hero needs to work  / fight his way through the various levels (of a decrepit housing block in Jakarta), applying his considerable fighting skills against increasingly vicious opponents (and against a wide range of fighting styles, I was told, even though I could only recognise the “hit and kick him” style). Until then, at the top of the building… the way it is supposed to be.

As a contrast to this very straightforward structure, The Raid 2 is a very very different film. It is not confined in space or story, it is actually sprawling the way Hongkong epics sprawl, and as a matter of fact, the Hongkong school of action cinema can be recognised all over this picture, much more so than in the first part. The visually brilliant,  occasionally slightly stupidly choreographed fights (always only one guy out of 200 running towards our hero? Really? Still?), frequently shot in slow-motion and with plenty of bad weather for decoration. There is a prison yard mud fight that has it all, that pulls all the stops, that does not care whether the audience recognises who is fighting whom (I did not – all muddy). What is important is that the violence and the energy is amped yet again a bit. Where part one was a man on a mission, part 2 is a couple of cartels fighting for survival, so everything is a bit more grandiose and a bit more lethal and a bit more confusing. I can’t say that this is to the benefit of the film. I believe the first part gained so much attention and so many positive reviews because it was such a compact and simple bit of work. Part 2 is rather generic in contrast, but of course visually impressive and serving the needs for all the friends of martial arts who cannot stand the nonsense of lifting people around on strings, but want to see true artistry and kinetic fun.

Plenty of individual scenes to be enjoyed, even though my memory is a bit murky when it comes to what this was all about. Infiltration and exposure, I guess, and not trusting in old loyalties…

Even though Indonesian martial arts film making has arrived in Hongkong, it is still the more enjoyable way of Hongkong martial arts film, with Indonesian characteristics.

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