The Raid: Redemption

“The Raid: Redemption” is an Indonesian action film, featuring the martial art of Pencak Silat. It was given limited release two or three weeks ago, and spread wide last week. It’s been given little to no promotion, in fact, as I said on (title pending) this week, I hadn’t even noticed it was in my megaplex. Foreign, subtitled, limited release, directed by and starring people I’ve never heard of… this isn’t usually the type of movie I cover here.

But the film has been getting some crazy buzz, and the rest of this week’s offerings make me want to kill myself are lackluster to say the least, so I figured eh, let’s go check it out.

Now that I have, there’s only one thing to say:

Holy Mary, mother of God…

A crime kingpin has set himself up in a dilapidated tenement building. He rents out the lower levels to the low lives of the city. Drug dealers, thugs, his henchmen… The result is essentially a heavily guarded fortification. Situated on the top floor, he has a virtual army of soldiers protecting him below. We’re informed that several rival gangs have challenged the complex, and have been repelled. Now it’s the Police’s turn. An armored transport drops an elite SWAT team of about 20 to 25 men outside the complex, and we watch as they commence their infiltration. The team silently penetrates the tenement in a choreographed and well executed manner. Quietly they assassinate sentries and stealthily storm the stairwells.

They get about halfway up before all hell breaks loose.

Seriously. Shit gets shot UP.

“The Raid: Redemption” quickly turns from a movie about a SWAT team infiltrating a fortified building, and into a story about a SWAT team trying to escape said building with their lives.

Once the action begins in earnest, it is pedal to the metal time. There’s an enormous shoot out that then eventually segues into hand to hand combat – mainly I think because the entire country ran out of bullets. Doesn’t slow things down a bit. Once things go close combat, dudes get shot, stabbed, bludgeoned, bashed, kicked, punched, thrown, chopped, slammed, sliced, kneed, elbowed, stomped, dropped, and blowed up. Not necessarily in that order, but frequently at the same time and always in rapid succession. Combatants punch, spin, flip, block, and kick. They throw each other into things, onto things, out of things, off of things… everything.

It’s an intoxicatingly brutal ballet of bullets, blades and blood.

It’s baaad ass.

Take a look at the trailer to get a taste of the action. Be warned, this is the red-band trailer, so its relatively graphic at points.

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But this is NOT to paint the movie as a mindless action flick. It’s not. The plot is simple, yes. The characters aren’t complex, no. But “The Raid: Redemption” has exactly the necessary amount of narrative, dialogue and character establishment to create a sturdy framework for the electrically charged action. This is a spartan, taut movie. There isn’t a single ounce of fat on it.There’s enough, literally just the perfect minimalist amount of plot and character work to suck you in and make you care and understand and then not a second more is wasted. The martial artists are all phenomenal and the acting is good all around and great at the most important point. The villain is awesome here. MAN! So good.

Director Gareth Evans is the big story here, to me, though. As much as any of the stars wow with their performances or their martial skills, Evans – who’s a Welsh director working out of Indonesia, per Wikipedia – shows off his skills with every bit as much flash and flourish as any of the high kicking, flipping, back-fisting martial arts stars “The Raid” features. Like the combatants themselves, Evans takes the camera and continuously changes stances with it, using creative angles and lighting, keeping the visuals exciting by constantly keeping you on your toes with his work within the frame. Then he sets it all to a techno beat and edits the action propulsively.

Only action fans need apply here, but if you DO like action movies, hold on to your hat. Cause this is the shit right here. I’m tellin’ ya.

A

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35 thoughts on “The Raid: Redemption

  1. AhHA! So glad you got to see this. I really do think it’s the best straight up action film in years. One that people will surely be talking about for years to come. Perhaps it will find a larger audience on the home video market. Also check “Merantau” which was the first collaboration of Raid’s director and star. While nowhere near the impact of “Raid” still a nice introduction to Pencak Silat.

    • Lots of flipping and throwing in that style. Helps that all the dudes theyre fighting are on the small side. :D

      Great flick Markus, you’re right. I’m hoping for a sequel! Heard somewhere its supposed to be a trilogy…

  2. See, why is it lately that films outside the states are bringing their A games to their projects. I mean I would go see this in a second over the recent Lockout that sold out for a more mainstream film rating that compromised the story to reach a wider demographic.

    I tell you Amerika has lost the action crown to Asia and its an ass kicking that is infinitely embarrassing for us!

    • I got no defense for that.

      This film did put a lot of competitors to shame.

      Although MI:4 was pretty kick ass…

      It’s all about the bucks. They try to get that PG13 so they can get the schoolkid lunch money. you know how it is, man. It’s sad. But a lot of people are bemoaning the exact sentiment you just expressed. Just spent a couople of days hearing a LOT of it over on the Stallone/Schwazengger thread….

      Lots of “I miss those days”.

  3. Great review Fogs.

    I agree with you entirely man, it kicks ass. And I like your statement about the film containing no fat, spot on.

  4. Glad you were able to catch this one, Fogs. I wasn’t sold early on when it was all gun warfare, but once it went hand-to-hand, I got hooked. Talk about insane… just amazing martial arts, and some epic “boss battles” too.

    • Yeah, certainly the hand to hand stuff rocks, but I thought the gun battles were pretty clutch too…

      I especially liked the part where the stairwell was completely dark, and the gunmen drew their bead on their targets based on the muzzle flashes… and then all the muzzles flashes going on lit the stairwell like a strobe light.

      That was some inventive stuff… thats the kind of stuff that separates this movie from the pack. :D

  5. I’m afraid I don’t have the nerves to handle the ‘intoxicatingly brutal ballet of bullets, blades and blood’ but I’ll muster up the courage to rent it as it’s filmed in my hometown. Nice review, Dan!

  6. I totally want to see this movie. I remember seeing a trailer for it on 3guys1movie. Even the trailer looked really good. This movie should have more buzz, maybe they should hire Prometheus’ PR team. LOL

    • I know, right? I hope the others movies make it to theatres too. If not, I mean obviously I’d snap them up on DVD but it’d be nice to see them on the big screen.

      Such a sick flick! :D

  7. Pingback: Checking Out the “Happy-Haps!” (4/21) « The Focused Filmographer

  8. OMG I want to see this so bad. I’m a serious action junkie and have been waiting for a film to give me the thrill of watching my favorite action film of all time, Hard Boiled, for the first time. This looks INSANE! VIOLENCE! YES! :D

    • You’ve found what you’ve been looking for then, I can pretty much gaurantee it. :D

      Well, of course, you know what it IS… until you see it I guess saying “You Found It” is an overstatement. LOL. Damn limited releases.

      Anyways, you’ll love it. With that mindset? You’re in for a good time.

  9. I just had the opportunity to see the trailer for this, wow! Some great action with exceptional shots. That head shot is not something I haven’t seen in other movies and the falling from the building scene left me with my mouth open!

  10. Looking forward to checking this out. This looks like a truly badass action flick. I love that the premise is so simple: One building full of gangstas and a 20 cops out to get all of them. I love it ahah :D

    • Oh I think you will love it. It IS badass for sure.

      Except, that script gets flipped pretty quick, Cap. Oh, the Cops go in to get the gangstas, sure. But it isnt long before the cops are just trying to get out alive :D

      Its awesome. Check it out asap!

  11. Movie looks epic! Thanks for the recommendation. I’ve always been more of an action freak. I hope the movie’s as great as the trailer though. I’ve been fooled by so many great looking trailers that I’ve almost lost faith. Don’t let me down fog! lol.

  12. Saw a trailer for this when I went to see Headhunters and I seriously want to see this. Your review has only backed up my need to see it!

  13. One of the best and entertaining flicks I’ve seen this year. It’s a rare one that definitely action, martial arts, with an almost horror genre feel to it.

  14. Ok so I can’t shake one thought of WHY doesn’t the distributor of this title make more intense marketing or PR so that this movie can be more well-known. Seriously, I had to contact my American friends via FB and most of them said they never heard of it =S Can you imagine what they might be missing if they’re not seeing this??

    So yeah — I’m thinking that *maybe*, just *maybe*… the ‘bad’ PR/ marketing was done on purpose, so that when the American remake comes out at 2014, it will get some booming and unrivaled attention. Well it’s just a nagging feeling I got, I probably wrong though.. :)

    Btw thanks for liking a movie from our country ^^ it’s a great review!! (my personal regret about this movie though: why did Gareth had to kill my most charming sergeant?? #fangirlmode #teamjaka) lol

    • Thank YOU Melissa, for commenting on my blog!

      “The Raid” was just an incredible movie, it was so well done. The unfortunate thing is that American audiences dont take well to foreign films… it’s not easy for theatres to make a lot of money showing them, so they dont give them the chance. Which, in turn, leads studios not to promote them as well. Its a viscious cycle.

      But regardless of what country its from, if a movie kicks as much ass as this one does, it’ll find its audience (here) on Blu Ray and DVD. I know I cant wait to own it… and in the meantime, I’ll be telling everyone how awesome it is! :D

      Thanks again for stopping by!

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