The point was ass whupping. Lots and lots of ass whupping. There was a building full of bad guys and cops were going in to get them. That was pretty much it. It has about ten minutes of set up and an hour and a half of action.
This second effort starts on the day after the original ends. It has a great deal more set up before a punch is thrown. That isn't a bad thing in an adaptation of an Emily Bronte novel but in this movie? It is a slow start. The film also does a bit of jumping around in time and introduces a slew of characters, tries to develop them yet never really manages to make them, in any way, real. Again? In what is basically a martial arts movie? Not a terrible knock and the movie still does better than most in the genre in this regard (again that high bar set for this sequel).
Here, as in the first movie, what matters most is action and style. The jumbled story and the slew of characters doesn't ruin the movie or make it less enjoyable. The fights are a little less spectacular but the film never tries to "top itself" or the fantastically over the top "Mad Dog" fight in the first movie. There is a fight in a moving car, in a muddy prison compound, in stylishly decorated hallways, nightclubs, moving subway cars and more. Where this movie may top the first is in the style. It has a great visual flair with its multiple locations. In this regard it calls to mind films by Korean director, Park Chan-wook.
The film manages--in a different role--to bring back one of the shining villains of the first film, Yayan Ruhian, another Indonesian actor, martial artist and stuntman. His fight in The Raid: Redemption, with Uwais and Donny Alamsyah, may well be the best fight in any martial arts movie, ever. His main fight in this film is also a little less impressive but, again, it can be pretty damned impressive and be less than his main fight scene in the first film. It would have been nice to see more of him in the film (and it would be nice to see him get some lead roles of his own).
One way the film solidly succeeds is in the acting. Many action films--wherever they are made--don't bother with requiring even the most minimal acting skills. This film isn't like that. No one is going to mistake the script for Shakespeare (and it doesn't have to be) so the actors have to be the ones selling it--often with looks and body language as much as words. You have to wonder if the martial artists in the cast are uniquely qualified to "speak" to an audience with body language.
Nothing here is ever cheap or overdone. Even some of the mini side plot points here have an actual purpose. The film is long--it runs just shy of two and a half hours but it never bores even when it sometimes confuses with its plethora of characters. There is a "video game" feel in the movie sometimes. Uwais battles scads of men one after another then there is a "boss battle" with a tougher opponent with unique armament. This is clever--there is a reason why these games appeal.
Fans should also be curious about where the already announced Raid 3 will take this international "franchise."