The Raid series of films provides some of the finest martial-arts action out there. The first film seemingly introduced a wide global audience to Indonesian action cinema. The second, released in 2014, was every bit as kinetic and enjoyable as the first, if not a little sillier.
That being said, when I heard that a graphic novel was being released that collected a comic series that filled in some of the plot from the second film, I knew I had to read it. Thankfully, The Raid: Locked Up, a trade paperback of the four-part sequel series from writers Ollie Masters and Alex Paknadel, artist Budi Setiawan, colorist Brad Simpson, and letterer Jim Campbell, is just as fun and ultra-violent as the films that spawned it.
Picking up shortly after the plot of the second Raid film, the series follows Officer Rama, going undercover in prison under the pseudonym Yuda. While Bejo, a crime boss with dangerous ambitions, and Teja, a police officer imprisoned for the unlawful arrest of Bejo, join him.
After a bloody botched arrest, police officer Teja is sent to prison, where he meets Rama. Soon, Rama finds himself trying to protect Teja who finds himself with a target on his head as a known member of law enforcement in prison. Meanwhile, as Rama is forced to defend Teja, we also see the growing feud between crime lord Bejo and a rival boss.
As Bejo struggles to find respect among the other crime bosses, he lets his frustration and anger fuel his ambition, alongside the trio of deadly assassins in his employ. Soon enough the scheming and planning come to fruition and we witness the results of what happens when anyone crosses him.
Scriptwriters Ollie Masters and Alex Paknadel tell an interesting and believable story of crime and intrigue. Though this story serves as little more than an “interquel” to the full plot of the two films, Masters and Paknadel keep the action moving nicely. It should be noted that Masters is responsible for the script in the first two issues of the series, and Paknadel takes over for the latter two. It is a testament to the talent of the two men writing the series that there does not seem to be a noticeable difference between their scripts.
However, if we are talking about a comic based off of a martial arts film, then the art should be the true star. Thanks to the excellent art from Setiawan and colors from Simpson, we are given a stylish and violent treat. While the films relied on a certain “grittiness” that would be difficult to translate to the comic, Setiawan’s art decides to go more over the top.
Between panels of gruesome and gory violence, and scenes where the violence gets literal with x-rays showing the extent of the damage being done, the intensity of the films is well translated. Simpson’s colors shift between a neutral palette during the calmer sections and a warmer one when there is action. In fact, the color red seems to be almost exclusively present when there is violence, often highlighting the aggressor to help keep the action easier to follow. Jim Campbell’s letters are well done and help to keep the pages clean and maintain the stylish flair that the writers are going for.
Overall, this series is a brief but thrilling excursion into one of the best martial-arts series of all time. The story being told is interesting and helps to fill in a healthy gap that occurs during the second film.
To be honest, it’s just nice to get to visit this universe again. It isn’t a particularly happy place, but as long as I can stay on the outside looking in, The Raid: Locked Up is a blast that would appeal to any fans of crime dramas with a healthy dose of action thrown in.
The Raid: Locked Up Trade Paperback will be available in comic stores everywhere on May 7th, 2019
Rating: 4.5/5 Teeth on the ground