Gangsters so violent, it hurts

Gangsters so violent, it hurts
Aaron Aziz (left) and Adi Putra play a pair of brothers embroiled in underworld tussles in movie prequel KL Gangstar 2, set in the Malaysian capital.

Review: Crime Drama


115 minutes/Opens on Oct 3/ 2 and a half out of 5

The story: Despite the best efforts of Malek (Aaron Aziz), his younger brother, petty drug dealer Jai (Adi Putra), sinks deeper and deeper into the world of gangland activity and organised crime. When a series of tragedies befall their family, Malek has no choice but to join one of the gangs and plays a pivotal part in an all-out turf war instigated by violent rival gang leader Tailong (Rosyam Nor).

The original KL Gangster broke boxoffice records in Malaysia in 2011 and thrust writer-director Syamsul Yusof into the spotlight.

For the follow-up, the son of the film's producer and industry veteran Yusof Haslam cranks up the dial on the violence and action to 11 - an entirely understandable decision from a business point of view to give the audience what they probably liked in the first movie.

So KL Gangster 2 is a testosterone fest from start to finish.

The street brawls are graphic and intense, the one-to-one duels are long and drawn-out and there are plenty of people crashing through glass.

When the cast of 100-or-so actors playing the gangsters fighting a turf war are tired of fisticuffs, they turn to pistols and automatic weapons to settle their differences.

It leaves you wishing for a few more breaks than the handful of wisecracks Malek's sidekick Fadil, played by comedian Zizan Razak, provides for some comic relief.

Also neglected are strong female roles. The women in the movie, all three of them in a boys' club movie, get short shrift - they are either victims who get beaten, raped and suffer from cancer, or are disloyal schemers who get knifed to death.

While Malek and his deteriorating relationship with his wild and out- of-control brother Jai might drive the movie, it is Malaysian stalwart Rosyam Nor who steals the thunder from the two lead Singaporean actors.

Playing a new character, Tailong, Rosyam reprises the crazed killer-rapist role that he played to awardwinning effect in the 1998 thriller Lenjan.

His acting is intense and you get a sinister sense of dread every time he enters a scene.

Equally visceral is the dialogue. Like in the first film, the script is a highlight because its language closely mirrors real-life street slang used in Singapore and across the Causeway.

Still, with characters firing guns from atop speeding vehicles in highway chase scenes and slicing off heads with a samurai sword, this is one film that makes you feel like you are sitting through a street-fighting, violent video game, exaggerated punching sound effects and all.

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