Friday, August 24, 2012

The Raid Finds Redemption One Broken Bone at a Time


The Raid: Redemption has been called everything from a ground breaking piece of martial arts cinema to an exercise in gratuitous violence. Depending on your level of tolerance for onscreen violence, the film is both of these things. It is an exhibition of action in its most primal form. What elevates The Raid: Redemption over most of its action driven peers though is how masterfully it is all orchestrated.

The film opens with father to be, and rookie police officer, Rama (Iko Uwais) doing his daily exercise and prayer rituals. After kissing his pregnant wife goodbye, Rama heads offs to work. Unbeknownst to Rama, he is about to endure the most brutal day of his life. Rama is part of a SWAT team led by Sergeant Jaka (Joe Taslim) that has been instructed to infiltrate an apartment building where local drug lord Tama Rivadi (Ray Sahetapy) resides. Jaka’s team knows that the raid will be difficult as average civilians reside in the building along with Tama’s henchmen. However, even the SWAT team seems to underestimate just how dangerous Tama and his men really are.


Living on the top floor, Tama monitors every nook of the building through his various security cameras. What was intended to be a surprise raid by the police quickly turns into a chaotic bloodbath. The number of SWAT members, which started off at twenty, quickly gets depleted to a skeleton squad of six or so officers. As Rama and the remaining officers try and fight, floor by floor, to stay alive, questions begin to arise about who ordered the raid in the first place? Was this merely a plan to capture Tama or is there other more sinister motives at play?


The Raid: Redemption tries to create a bit of mystery in regards to the motives of some of the characters, but the fact of the matter is that the film is thin on plot. Most of the individuals in the film, with the exception of the four main characters, are nothing more than indistinguishable body parts to destroy. The thing to keep in mind though is that The Raid: Redemption is not a film that you go into expecting an in-depth story. This film at no point tries to be anything other than an all out action film and, on that level, the film succeeds swimmingly.

While director Gareth Evans deserves much praise for keeping the film moving at breakneck speed, it is fight choreographers Iko Uwais and Yayan Ruhain who are the real stars of the show. Aside from the numerous “how did they pull that stunt off” moments in the film, there is a distinct rhythmic beauty to the fight scenes. It is not so much about how many guys Rama must go through, but how he uses the environment around him to do so. In one jaw-dropping hallway sequence Rama not only slices one foes leg open with a knife, but proceeds to impale another’s throat onto a broken door frame. He only has a brief moment to take in the ramifications of this before he is back up fitting off more henchmen.

Filled with non-stop action and fight scenes where you can actually see every punch, kick, and axe chop, The Raid: Redemption is a pure adrenaline rush. While the film lacks plot and character depth, it has more than enough well choreographed action sequences to make up for it. Those looking for action and nothing more will thoroughly enjoy The Raid: Redemption.

6 comments:

  1. The fight scenes sound too brutal for my feeble nerves but I really should watch this as I'm from Indonesia. Glad to hear Iko Uwais is getting noticed by Hollywood as he's cast in Keanu's new movie!

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    1. Despite its brutal violence at times I do think you would enjoy the film. I had no idea Iko Uwais was in the new Keanu film, I will definitely have to keep an eye out for that film.

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  2. This was probably my favorite action movie of at least the past five years or so. My heart was racing through most of it.

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    1. It is my favourite action film of the year so far. I have not seen anything quite like it in a long time.

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  3. I unfortunately bought into the hype around this movie too much before I saw it. When I finally did, there was no way the movie was able to live up to my expectations. While I did enjoy the action, I had seen similar scenes in other Asian action films, so there wasn't really anything new about them for me. Like you, I'd still recommend it to everyone wanting to see an action flick, but I'd tell them to try to know as little about the film as possible before seeing it.

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    1. I could see how the hype would hinder your enjoyment of the film. The hype machine has been going strong since the film took TIFF by storm last year.

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