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.
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.