I’ve been so disappointed with the recent flurry of Hollywood commercial films that I had to once again use my nose to find a great movie amongst the independent/foreign film circuit in my local neighborhood theater. This is how I came across the Indonesian Action film called “The Raid: Redemption” (Indonesian title: “Serbuan Maut” translates to "The Deadly Attack"). This is the second collaboration between fight choreographers Iko Iwais and Yayan Ruhian after the film “Merantau". Hailed as one of the best action films in recent years in the Toronto film festival, the film is a grand display of martial arts, gunplay and unrelenting brutal bloody violence that can make the action junkie salivate and jump for joy.
Rama (Iko Uwais) is a member of a SWAT team led by Jaka (Joe Taslim) that has been tasked with the assault on a rundown apartment building and removing its owner, Tama (Ray Sahetapy) who is also a vicious drug lord. The building has been used as a safe haven for killers, rapists and robbers, as the place is a ‘no enter’ zone for even the police. When a spotter blows their plans of assault, things go horribly wrong and the SWAT team ends up nearly annihilated with a very small number surviving the assault. Rama and Jaka must fight their way through the many floors of the dilapidated tenement not to complete their mission but to try to survive their bloody ordeal.
The film’s first act is your standard set up for your average plot made to display bloody mayhem. Director/writer Gareth Evans (a Welsh director based in Indonesia) does not stray from the film’s intentions, the film has a very simple plot and you know exactly how things will go as soon as the SWAT team leaves their armored vehicle. The film has three acts and in each act never slows down in mounting tension, suspense, and the development of its plot and main characters. Despite the simplicities of its devices and premise, the script does manage to bring about surprises and twists that aid in the film’s flow, and the direction avoids wallowing too deep into the display of blood and violence.
Evans does an amazing job and would make most Hollywood action directors green with envy. “The Raid” is a masterful presentation when it comes to violence and an example as to how one needs to do an action film. It never relents in displaying the raw grittiness and brutality in the gunplay and fights. The film is not for the squeamish as the film is truly a grand display of violence. The films first act opens up with the actual assault and I was left breathless. It was so refreshing to see an action film this bloody, which gives it a realistically edgy tone. The direction was quick and precise, the film was amazingly suspenseful as the SWAT team takes on the residents of the tenement. There were some scenes that were shot in almost pitch black and only shadows and close ups appear to guide the viewer to what is going on. It is all about trying to survive as the supposed hunters become the hunted. The direction moves the action from floor to floor and each scene proved more suspenseful and intense than the previous one.
Once things settle down a little, we see the film through the eyes of Jaka and Rama as they try to do what they must to survive their ordeal, and this leads to a lot of hand to hand combat. “The Raid” showcases the Indonesian martial art Pencak Silat, which is similar to Muay Thai, Arnis and Kuntao in some ways; however, the art is also quite useful with the use of different weapons that includes the machete, Kujang and the Gedak. The fight choreography is incredible, you feel the drama in the encounters and you can definitely feel the tension between the combatants. The shots are kept in a good distance with some tricky editing that display the fights from the top, side and even up close. The actors are very capable in the fights and no wires were used in the choreography. To give the film a feeling of authenticity, there is hardly any show boating, and the fights are what they are supposed to be--a fight for keeps; this means, the fighters are going in for the kill. As a result the fights are very bloody and ultra-violent--and the fights always have a huge ‘money shot‘ to express its brutality. It makes “Fight Club” look like a kiddie flick, and despite the blood and violence, the moves are filled with grace that makes the scenes almost like an art form.
The characters are pretty simple, but I have to say it was so easy to root for Rama and hate the bad guys. Clearly, Rama was left fighting for his life. To the script’s credit, it presents some surprises to keep thing grounded, as to not wallow too much in the bloody mayhem. The deaths were also well timed, they came as sort of a surprise and adds more to the film’s visceral impact. For a film like this, performances are judged with the action and the entire cast forms wonderful chemistry in all the mayhem. Yayan Ruhian does almost steal the show, as he proves to be one of the best bad asses to hit an action film. It is all formula in action I know, but the way things were set up were so exciting that I never cared anymore.
I haven’t been left breathless in a film in quite awhile. I love martial arts films and this is indeed one of the best ones made in the past 10 years. It is indeed one of the best action movies to grace the screen. Evans wanted to promote Silat in his films, and believe me, he succeeds. He captures the right atmosphere and style for a truly gritty and brutal action film that pushes the limits of martial arts fighting. Raw, edgy and visceral, “The Raid: Redemption” is on its way to become an action classic.
Be warned. This film is not for the squeamish. HIGHEST POSSIBLE RECOMMENDATION for Action Junkies. [4 ½ Out of 5 Stars]
In the middle of Jakarta's slums lies an impenetrable apartment complex which is a safe house for the city's most dangerous murderers, killers and gangsters. The crappy apartment block has been considered untouchable to even the police. It all changes when an elite team is tasked with raiding the building in order to take down the notorious crime lord Tama Riyandi who runs it and ultimately resides at the top of this insane game of death. Getting ready to tackle this risky and dangerous layered … more
**** out of **** In one of the darkest corners of Jakarta, Indonesia there is a run-down apartment complex that houses a plethora of criminals, drug addicts, killers, and the crime lord Tama Riyada (Ray Sahetapy). His kingdom has remained unscathed due to the unsuccessful attempts on the part of the local police to smoke out the place and its inhabitants (his tenants), although the authorities - a Lieutenant Wahyu (Pierre Gruno) in particular - have had enough of Tama's supposed … more
Star Rating: The Raid: Redemption is unwatchably bad – a film that has no ambition other than to be noisy, aggressive, and relentlessly violent. Watching it is a little like being trapped in an arcade game and having absolutely no control over it. The characters, developed solely on shallow and overused clichés, are essentially targets in a shooting gallery, most of them serving no purpose apart from awaiting their cue to die in a savage attack. … more
Opened March 23, 2012 (Limited 3/23) | Runtime:1 hr 41 min
R Strong Brutal Bloody Violence and Language
Information for parents: Common Sense Media says not for kids.
Rama, a member of a special forces team, arrives at a rundown apartment block with a mission to remove its owner, a notorious drug lord. The building has become a sanctuary to killers, gangs, rapists and thieves seeking accommodation in the one place they know they cannot be touched by the police. When a spotter blows their cover, Rama and his team must fight their way through every floor and every room not just to complete their mission but to survive their bloody ordeal.