[Review] – The Raid: Redemption

18 Apr

Title: The Raid: Redemption
Year: 2012
Director: Gareth Evans
Writer: Gareth Evans
Starring: Iko Uwais, Joe Taslim, Donny Alamsyah, Yayan Ruhian, Pierre Gruno, Tegar Setrya, Ray Sahetapy, Ananda George
MPAA Rating: R, strong brutal bloody violence throughout, and language
Runtime: 101 min
IMDb Rating: 8.3
Rotten Tomatoes: 83%
Metacritic: 73

The Raid: Redemption is one insanely violent and gory film that makes some violent and gory films look positively family-friendly; that’s something that you should know from the get-go before you go into this one. But at the same time it’s a near-great film, and actually one of the most thrilling and original action films I’ve seen in quite some time, delivering sequence after sequence that just goes for some really inventive stuff just because it wants to do it, and because it can do it, and by the time it does it and it’s done with you your jaw will be damn right near hitting the floor. It’s an oldschool action movie not in the sense of last year’s tongue-in-cheek Hobo With a Shotgun, but in the sense that it’s just down right gritty and bad-ass; the kind of film you can’t really shake off all that easily.

In 2009 Gareth Evans made a film called Merantau (which I haven’t seen), which was this other Indonesian martial arts film that uses the form of martial arts known as Pencak Silat to do the kick-assery which is mostly done by Iko Uwais. Mr. Uwais is once again the star of a Gareth Evans film here, as Rama, a rookie officer that’s part of the SWAT team sent to take down Jakarta’s deadly crime lord Tama. He lives in a big apartment building in the slums of Jakarta, an impenetrable apartment block full of killers and gangsters that’s untouchable even by the police until this SWAT team is tasked with infiltrating it and take Tama down.

This is a simple storyline, and that’s because The Raid: Redemption has no time to lose giving us complex stuff to follow. You have a building full of crooks, you have a team of cops, you have the cops raid the building, and you have bullets flying and fights ensuing. Simple, and yet so damn effective when it’s done as right as it’s done in this film. The action starts off really fast in this one, as the team skillfully infiltrates the building until they are made by a child while they are on the sixth floor and he runs off to warm Tama who then announces to the rest of the building that he’ll provide sanctuary to those who kill off the team for him. So, you see, that’s when it looks grim for our heroes. Grimmer still when we find out that the Lieutenant had sanctioned the mission without permission from the department, which means they get no back-up or rescue operation.

Who cares about a simple storyline when you have a film as dedicated to sheer action as this one is. By hand, by bullet, by machete; The Raid: Redemption has something for every level of bloodlust, and it’s seriously exquisitely choreographed by Mr. Evans and his cast and crew, giving every action sequence this really fast pacing that, along with the throbbing, synth-heavy score by Mike Shinoda and Joseph Trapanese, will definitely have you super engaged in everything that goes on in this one. I’ve heard people complain about the action being too violent in this one, and being so for no reason whatsoever other than to just be violent. And that’s actually kind of true, if you watch any given twenty minutes of this film you’ll have seen all you really need to see of it; but it’s just too awesome for you not to watch the other eighty minutes.

There is of course a story line, it’s not like a videogame in which our team has to go floor by floor until it gets to the final boss with the infinite life bar (though it kind of is, and that game would be awesome). You have some of our team die along the way, the rest of the team having to split to different floors where they find different people that will have their allegiances tested, and it’s all very nice and does get us from one point to the next, but we’re just here for the action. And it’s good because Iko Uwais is truly a great presence to watch on-screen; one of those actors who can exert a great deal of violence with a sense of elegance and precision that’s impossible to resist from watching.

The Raid: Redemption is a pure action flick, there’s no other way to put it. And while I’m sure there’s an inevitable tamer American version of this film around the corner, I urge you to see this one first, to experience first hand the amount of energy in display, to revel in the wonderfully choreographed fights that will leave you stunned. And while you won’t be able to look away, trust me when I tell you you’ll want to do just that, and I guess that’s just part of what Mr. Evans does so well in this film. He gives us a fair amount of scenes in which the violence is just too much and you want to look away, and in which the editing is super fast (though really well done) your eyes will have a hard time keeping up with it. But it’s just so expertly done that no matter how much you may want you won’t be able to look away.

I really do recommend The Raid: Redemption. I was thinking about giving it a grade in the A-range, but I think it falls just short from that, and yet the praise I’ve given it certainly makes it feel like a film of that level for me. But that’s just because of how surprised I was to come across a film as relentlessly intense as this one in this day and age; it understands the limits it’s so violently pushing, while not at all glorifying that excess. I’m just hoping the American remake doesn’t lose that element, and I hope more people get to experience this one.

Grade: B+


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