Raid, The: Redemption (2012)

Starring: Iko Uwais, Joe Taslim, Ray Sahetpy, Doni Alamsyah, Yayan Ruhian, Pierre Gruno, Tegar Satrya, Iang Darmawan, Eka ‘Piranha’ Rahmadia, Verdi Solaiman, R. Iman Aji.

Director: Gareth Evans
Rating: R (for strong brutal bloody violence throughout, and language.)
Running Time: 101 Minutes
Release Date: March 23, 2012
Home Video Release Date: August 14, 2012
North American Box Office: $4.1 Million

XYZ Films, Pt. Meranteau Films, and Sony Pictures Classics.

Written by: Gareth Evans.
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1/2 (out of 5 stars)

The Raid: Redemption is a concussive onslaught of violence, rapid fire action, and blood-soaked mayhem the likes of which has to be seen to be believed.  From Indonesia, The Raid: Redemption tells a simple story depicting a 20-man SWAT teams efforts to capture and kill, if necessary, a ruthless drug lord who is holed up in a rundown apartment building which just happens to play host to a hornet’s nest of the worst criminals in the area.  This will be no easy task, but the team is game for the challenge, recognizing that no one may make it out alive.

Led by Sergeant Jaka (Joe Taslim), the efforts and influence of the younger Rama (Iko Uwais) are smart and logical, with Rama soon becoming the de facto leader of the team.  As they enter the apartment building, bad guys come almost literally out of the woodwork and every battle is essentially a fight to the death.  The action is swift, the blood is everywhere, and broken bones, dismemberment, and gory shootings all occur in a swirling and stylish presentation from director Gareth Evans.

Watching The Raid: Redemption unfold is identical to experiencing a graphic and unflinching video game that has been Rated M for Mature.  Rama, Jaka, and their team members literally go up a level, slaughter and decimate bad guys, pause, take a breath, and go up another.  The story of the drug lord Tama (Ray Sahetpy) is predictable and in and of itself, uninteresting.  Though I will say this – it is staggering the number of people Tama has at his disposal.  Were I to watch the film again, some of these guys would had to have been killed, stabbed, shot, or beaten certainly more than once, right?  If not, how many drug dealers, thugs, and reprobates does this Tama have control of?

With a pulsing and urgent Americanized electro-music score from Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park and Joseph Trapanese, which replaces the original music, The Raid: Redemption shoves and pushes you forward whether you wish to accelerate with it or not.  For about 90 straight minutes, The Raid: Redemption rarely stops, the sound effects popping out at you like confetti bursting from an airtight container.  Tightly choreographed and guided by Evans’ relentless quest to capture all of the action, the film loses quite a bit in its rapid-fire slash-and-burn editing style and would have only benefitted and sustained more jaw-dropping impressiveness had some of these battles been featured in longer, tracking shots with minimal edits.  With that said, this is one unrelenting film to take in and if you can withstand the non-stop carnage on display and its woefully transparent storyline, The Raid: Redemption might just win you over.

I am not in love with the film as rabidly as some are, but I have to admire the macabre artistry on display.  A little less flash and a bit more substance would help all involved, but there is enough on display here to keep Gareth Evans and Iko Uwais, by virtue of his incredible physicality in this performance, on my radar as performers to keep an eye on, seeking out more of their work in the future..

SHOULD I SEE IT?
YES
  • Perhaps I have missed an entire sub-genre of international filmmaking, but I have not seen anything quite like this before.  I find that a good thing.
  • Skimping on good acting performances, The Raid… excels by its mere urgency to get to the finish.  Again, much of the film resembles playing a video game – only it is live action and there are buckets of blood and broken bones along the journey..
  • Action fans will be impressed, and those who are familiar with Pencak Silat will love this film.
NO
  • Not for the squeamish what…so…ever.
  • The thin story will force some to find this as gratuitous and nothing more violence for the sake of violence.  I mean, they are not entirely wrong I would suppose, but I got more out of it than that.
  • This type of film has a very limited audience and by its sheer design, many will skip it.