Writer: Elaine EweWriter Ratings:Overall: Cast: Plot: Effects: Cinematography: Watch this if you liked:
"KL Gangster", action films, gangsters
Getting involved in a gang is bad. Gangsters have no sense of loyalty and in their seedy world; it's a dog-eat-dog way of life. No matter how you think that you are doing the right thing, as long as you have ties to this particular group of people, you will be inevitably forced to kill or be killed. Basically, don't ever join a gang. "KL Gangster 2" takes this moral and weaves it in the familiar story of two brothers driven apart by their different principles, but the two end up going down the same path of corruption, betrayal and murder.
Malek (Aaron Aziz) is having a really bad day. His brother Jai (Adi Putra) owes a dangerous gang a lot of money, his mother is heartbroken that Jai has a funky hairdo and walks around in a leather jacket half-naked, and his friend King (Ridzuan Hashim), who is the head of another gang, wants him to help him regain his territories from the psychotic and dangerous Tailong (Rosyam Nor). To make matters worse, after Jai's debtors assaulted his mother and sister Zati (Sheera Iskandar), Malek is told that his mother has cancer. Desperate, Malek decides to help King out in exchange for money for his mother's operation, but Malek's presence riles Tailong up. It all comes down to one final showdown, but who can Malek trust to have his back when everyone is out for blood?
If you don't know already, the film is the prequel to director Syamsul Yusof's high-grossing "KL Gangster 2". Syamsul is already ahead of the game in how he sets up the plot of the movie. Usually, action films try to dress themselves up as part of the gentry by having some semblance of plot, but Syamsul abandons all pretence and lets the action drive the film instead. A typical scene features members from two opposing gangs having a face-off in a dimly-lit location such as a club, in the middle of the street at night, and in a warehouse, where they proceed to hurl verbal abuse at each other for 10 minutes before trading punches. This emphasis on giving the movie over to the action isn't just because the script is cliche, but because you can see that the entire budget went into shooting the action scenes. If anything, they are commendably choreographed and edited, so it never feels stagey.
Deeply flawed characters are an actor's paradise and the cast runs wild with Aaron and Syamsul, who plays King's stepson Shark, at the forefront. At this point, the only way that the two could surprise anyone is if they play geeky and sensitive saps, seeing as how they fit into their tough gangster roles like a glove - Aaron as the reluctant and sympathetic hero and Syamsul as the greenhorn who wants to succeed his father. The rest of the cast does an admirable job of keeping up, but the standout supporting character is Zizan Razak as Fadil. His performance is a welcome relief from the heavy-handed action and helps to keep the pot of testosterone from boiling over.
However, there is such thing as too much of a good thing. As Syamsul tries to cater to his fans and niche audience, in some aspects it backfires. The film moves at a rapid pace, with respites lasting for less than 10 minutes before the next action sequence begins. Although formulaic, we have seen this work in the case of "The Expendables" and its similar-sounding sequel, but in this film, the action feels unnecessarily drawn out. Gunfights have both sides miss their target more often than not, only hitting one guy in every seven bullets fired; one-on-one fights see the winner stopping short of delivering the killing blow every time only to have their enemy return to bite them in the ass in the next scene and there is even a sequence where Malek has his dangerous enemy at gunpoint, only to throw the gun away to engage in close-quarters combat instead. Additionally, the gang speak can get a little hard to follow for new "KL Gangster" initiates, but English subtitles are said to be available at the time of release, so that's good news.
These qualms aside, "KL Gangster 2" is definitely for diehard fans of action films. It is a big movie filled with big emotions from big characters that probably won't change your life, but it won't have you crying foul either. If you are already fan of "KL Gangster", then "KL Gangster 2" has more of what you love; gang speak and death-defying stunts. The story may not be relatable (or is it?), but it unabashedly shows what goes on in the darker walks of life, while at the same time subtly pointing out that the consequences of getting involved in a gang. Cinema Online, 10 September 2013