REVIEW: “K.G.F: Chapter 2” (2022)

On the heels of the successful “K.G.F: Chapter 1” and following a rather lengthy COVID-19 delay, writer-director Prashanth Neel delivered the second chapter of his two-part action-fueled crime saga. The highly anticipated sequel is the most expense Kannada-language film ever made and currently stands as the highest grossing Kannada-language movie of all-time. After finally seeing it, I can understand why.

Not only does Chapter 2 have a bigger budget, but it also has a bigger scope. Everything about it feels larger and the stakes are most certainly higher. But most importantly, the second chapter sticks to the same wild, over-the-top blueprint – high on style, heavy on action, and still driven by the powerhouse presence of its charisma-oozing star, Yash. And while Neel runs into some of the same problems as he did with the first film, they’re not nearly as pronounced this time around. He tightens up the storytelling and he does a better job with some of his characters – two slight beefs I had with Chapter 1.

If you remember, the first film was built around a veteran reporter and author, Anand Ingalagi (Anant Nag) being interviewed by television journalist Deepa Hegde (Malavika Avinash). After having his book banned by the Indian government, Anand comes to the television station to share his story which the Prime Minister (Raveena Tandon) is determined to erase. Chapter 2 uses that same framing device but with a twist.

After suffering a sudden stroke, Anand lies in intensive care unable to finish his story. While at the hospital, Deepa meets Anand’s son Vijayendra (Prakash Taj) who tells them his father was obsessed with the story of the Kolar Gold Fields (K.G.F.) and the rise to power of a renowned assassin named Rocky (Yash). Despite their troubled family history, Vijayendra insists that the rest of his father’s story be told. So he takes Deepa and her crew to his father’s library where they begin piecing together the second half of Anand’s tale.

From there we shift to the story of Rocky who (after killing the ruthless Garuda in Chapter 1) has taken over as the new boss of the K.G.F. He now runs the most precious piece of land on earth, funneling gold through the black market and amassing enormous wealth. It’s all in keeping with a pledge he made to his ailing mother when he was a child. While on her deathbed, she makes Rocky pledge to one day become rich and powerful so that people would remember his name. It’s what drives his out-of-control hunger for more.

Despite having dirty hands, Rocky is loved by the miners and their families, winning their adoration by supplying them clothing and building them homes. While the adults praise his benevolence, the children herald him as a superhero. But there are forces on the outside who are unhappy with Rocky’s ascension. So he does what anyone would do in his situation – he builds an army to protect his empire.

Meanwhile, outside of the K.G.F. walls, the five crime bosses who hired Rocky in the first film now begin plotting against him. They don’t like than an outsider has disrupted their enterprise, and they’re not giving it up without a fight. At the same time, Rocky is branded “the biggest criminal in India” by the self-serving Prime Minister Ramika Sen who’s willing to use the full resources of the government to shut him down. But there’s a new player in the game; a violent wild card no one saw coming – Adheera (Sanjay Dutt), the brother of the ruthless kingpin Rocky killed in the first film.

As I’m sure you expect, all of these combustible elements lead to some insanely fun action sequences as Rocky defends his fortune from all sides. Yash’s unmatched (and often hilarious) bravado energizes the fight sequences and shootouts, and returning DP Bhuvan Gowda once again shoots him as a near mythological force of nature. It’s the same unique visual language from the first film, but with crisper editing and even more ambitious. That means we get action scenes that are bigger, crazier, and always stunning to look at. But not all the action involves fists, guns, or explosives. Yet even then, Rocky always seems to be one step ahead of his enemies.

One of my biggest gripes about the first film was its handling of Srinidhi Shetty’s character, Reena, Rocky’s alleged love interest. I say “alleged” because there was no warmth between them whatsoever. And Shetty was quickly pushed into the background and forgotten. She makes for a more interesting presence in Chapter 2 and has a pretty significant role to play in the second half. Reena still isn’t as fleshed out as I had hoped, but at least she finally feels like a part of the story.

“K.G.F: Chapter 2” embraces the best things from the first film while correcting some of its missteps. Together, the two films make for a delightfully cohesive pair. Neel uses our love for legend to tell his story the same way we often do when talking about our heroes – with as much imagination as certitude. This dance between myth and truth is a big part of makes these movies tick. Chapter 1 gave us a good taste of it. Chapter 2 took the concept and ran with it. “K.G.F: Chapter 2” is available to stream on Amazon Prime Video.

VERDICT – 4 STARS

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