The Raid (Redemption) is an action-cum-martial arts Indonesian film written and directed by Gareth Evans. Staring Iko Uwais, Joe Taslim, Donny Alamsyah and Yayan Ruhian. The first and the last also being the fight choreographers. Don’t be surprised if you start seeing some of these names in Hollywood films. In fact, if you check IMDB, you already will.
This may be old news to some of you but with a limited release it’s bound to enjoy a good life on disc. If you are less than enamoured with the genre, The Raid makes no attempt to transcend the genre. The plot is functional and the characters are hardly an example of the internal struggle of the human spirit. External struggle? Most defiantly. In most genres this may be a criticism but Evans gives you just enough to care about the main characters, if you feel so inclined.
The set up does sound like a video game. A police SWAT team is sent into an apartment block in Jakarta considered a “no go” area, controlled as it is, by a criminal gang. The team will have to fight their way up to the top floor to arrest the gang boss. Thankfully, it does not play out like a video game where each level is cleared to move on to the next, it takes a much more organic route to its satisfying end.
“Well, what about the fighting?” I hear you ask. This is a “fighty” film after all. Before we get all up close and personal there are a number of gun battles. Hand-held shakey cam is becoming/has become something of a cliché. When used well however, it can convey frenetic action and can put you, the viewer, in the action. If, like me, you are tried of the over use of shakey cam you’ll be please to hear that The Raid manages to put you in the action. Although the gun combat is somewhat stylised it still feels real and hectic.
This feeling of frenetic realism is carried over to the close combat scenes. After all, when you are out of bullets people don’t kindly stop trying to kill you. Taking the Eastern long shot and the Western close shot, The Raid manges to mitigate the “me next” syndrome that can occur in many Hong Kong style films. There is still a plethora of expendables/grunts/ensigns (delete as appropriate) to take care of but we never see them hanging around waiting for their turn to attack.
For those interested the martial art used is called Silat a grouping together of the indigenous martial arts of the Indonesian Archipelago. Having a little martial training myself I appreciated the direct and functional style. Sure there are some flashy moves and over long fights but if every fight lasted 30 seconds, like they most likely would in the real world, the film would be over rather quickly. Coming back to the video game vibe there is of course the mandatory boss fights. Although rather long they don’t wander into the tedious and hold your attention right to the end.
Some reviewers have been less than kind on the plot and basic emotive writing tools used to define the characters. Personally I think it’s purposeful and well crafted. Most of the people who will be drawn to this film will be interested in the fighting, not the plot and character development. The fighting still needs a container, something more than a couple of set pieces tied together and that’s exactly what it gets. For the genre, the story is more than satisfactory.
4.5/5 (A knee in the face for good measure)
Sounds like a film I’d enjoy, will have to check it out 🙂
If you even a remote interest in the genre it’s a must watch tbh 🙂
I forgot to mention reading the subtitles is mostly optional but remember every time you watch a dub, God takes a Mb of bandwidth away!
Loved this movie! It’s one of the best action films in recent memory.
I quite enjoyed this, was a bit slow to start but good all the same.
Not up to Ninja Assassin (a film I love) levels or gore and violence, but had a very nice style to the film, definitely up there as one of my favourite fighty films.
Ninja Assassin 🙂 I’m always trepidatious about anything with “ninja” in the title. Mostly, I think, because I never see any actual ninjutsu. Btw have you seen (in no order):
Zatoichi and Ong Bak are the bomb. I’d also add 13 Assassins. Miike is awesome.
I take it from that you haven’t seen Ninja Assassin? You have to watch it, it’s insanely violent 😀 Purists of the fighty genre might not like it as it’s in english (and not a dub), but it’s really worth a watch.
Not seen the first 2 but seen the last 2, I like Tony Jaa, Tom yum joong is pretty good as well.
I agree with Kode, definitely a little slow on the start. There where some very well structured fight scenes, also stylistically beautiful and very well shot. Will definitely be looking into watching some more of Iko Uwais’ films as he his fighting style was beautiful. I also love that its a Welsh boy was writing and directing will be seeing what he comes out with next. ( just seen there is a sequel in the works.) 😀 Ninja Assassin is a must see.
@Kode I have seen Ninja Assassin, how could I not with a name like that? 🙂 Don’t get me wrong, it’s a fun movie for what it is. I think the term “ninja” is forever tarnised by bad 80s movies. I’m told that’s why it called (Bujinkan) Taijutsu now. Azumi has one of the best twist starts. You should check it out. Versus has some of the usual Japanese weirdness which can be a bit marmite 🙂
@Jetburn83 I think the slow start was a good idea really. If you start at 11 where do you go from there? 🙂 Should be interesting what they do next, next. As The Raid probably won’t have grabbed peoples attention until recently. Taking bets on Hollywood remake?
Another bad/good one is Ninja Cheerleaders – it really wasn’t as bad as I thought it would be 🙂
I watched it at the cinema 2 weeks ago, great film with good entertainment value. If you like martial arts films, this one’s for you.