The Raid: Redemption is the most jaw-dropping, adrenaline-fueled, pure action flick I’ve seen in a long time. Filmed in Indonesia, the Asian influences on this film are obvious; with fast, fluent martial arts battles and close quarter combat being mixed in with plenty of shootouts and blade-wielding maniacs, making this a movie that will please all types of action aficionados. And The Raid isn’t afraid to get bloody. Really bloody. The bullets fly, the knives slice and the bones break as the bodies continue to pile up until the film finally fades to black and the credits role – and by that time, you’re ready to go again.
The premise to The Raid: Redemption is incredibly simple: a SWAT team infiltrate an apartment building that’s been considered “off limits” to authorities for years in an attempt to take out Tama (Ray Sahetapy), the ruthless mobster who runs the place. But because the police were never able to enter this place it has now become a shelter for scum and is filled with dangerous killers and thugs, who trap the SWAT team inside and on Tama’s orders, don’t plan to let them leave alive.
There are three short scenes at the start of the film that help set the stage for what’s to come: the first is the introduction to the film’s hero, Rama (Iko Uwais) who we meet doing his morning training exercises then saying goodbye to his pregnant wife (always a good motivation to live); the second is inside the SWAT truck where the sergeant lets his team know what their mission is; and lastly, there’s a scene inside the building where we see Tama viciously execute four men for unknown reasons. These are three quick scenes, however, nothing more really needs to be said about the characters or their motivations. The audience knows all it needs to know to move forward and the film does just that.
Writer/director Gareth Evans definitely has a talent for this type of film, as he puts the audience right into the action, which helps create an incredible sense of tension while watching. Every time a SWAT member peaks around the corner or opens a door you’re just waiting for them to catch a bullet to the eye or a machete to the throat. Yes, the film is that brutal and unforgiving – but that’s also why it’s so awesome.
The tension is amped up by the amazing choreography work of Uwais and Yayan Ruhian (who plays Mad Dog, one of the main bad guys in the film). These two stage some incredible fight scenes that make up over 80% of the film, and they’re so well done that it really makes the viewer not know what’s coming next. And while the choreography is fantastic, the direction of Evans in these situations can’t be ignored, and neither can his editing skills (as he also edited the film), which really help add a sense of ferocity to each and every battle.
And while the film does take place in a single location, it’s the superb technical work of those behind the scenes that really help bring it to life. The handheld camera work is perfect for the urgent tone and speed that The Raid is going for, and it works flawlessly. The sound department help make every blow by blow moment feel like it’s happening in the same room as the viewer, while the cinematography of Matt Flannery helps set the gritty tone that the film needs. Also the film’s score, which was composed by Linkin Parks’ Mike Shinoda, helps take the intensity of every scene to another level.
The acting is strong by all involved, which also includes all the stunt work and fight scenes. Uwais really feels like a rookie cop who looks to do what’s right – and just happens to kick all sorts of ass on top of it all. Then there’s Sahetapy who makes Tama someone the audience will despise from the first moment we meet him. One character that really stood out in my eyes was Sgt. Jaka, who’s played by Joe Taslim. Jaka is the one who led his team into this inescapable situation on bad orders, but he also looks to do whatever he can to make sure they all get out alive. He’s also got one of the best fight scenes in the film against Ruhian, which doesn’t hurt.
The Raid: Redemption is a must own for any action junky out there, no question about it. At the start of this review when I said the film was jaw dropping, I wasn’t just trying to find cool ways to describe it. No, my jaw actually dropped open multiple times in shock and amazement at some of the killing blows that happen over the course of this 100-minute blood bath. The Raid: Redemption is one of the most badass, mind-blowing action flicks I’ve seen in years, and it definitely shouldn’t be missed.
The audio quality is great, with the action really coming right into your living room with how well the sound was done. There are subtitles here for those who aren’t aware that this is a foreign language film, but since the plot is fairly straightforward and most of the film is straight up action, it shouldn’t be a reason not to see the movie. The video quality is also awesome, with deep blacks and a cooler, gritty, desaturated tone to most of what’s going on inside the building.
There are actually a lot of hardy special features found here, and after watching them the final product is even more impressive knowing everything that went in to making it.
Video Blogs – There are six video blogs that have a total length of 39 minutes. These are must-watches for anyone who enjoys the film, as they delve into all sorts of behind-the-scenes information that fans will just love to see. The six blogs are: Bootcamp; Set Location, Camera, Special Effects and Make-up; The Courtyard/Hole Drop; Drug Lab/Tama’s Office; Machete Gang/Corridor/Jaka Vs. Mad Dog; and lastly, Post-Production.
Claycat’s The Raid – This is a hilarious little piece of Claymation which basically sums up the entire film in three minutes using Claymation cats as the characters. There are some liberties taken to the story to help cut it down to three minutes, but it’s hilarious and incredibly impressive!
Featurettes – There are six featurettes found in this section, which have a combined running time of 15 minutes. They’re mainly done in a cool interview style with Gareth Evans, who is also joined with Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda, who helped compose the film’s score. A quick, fun, informative watch once again.
Behind the Music with Mike Shinoda and Joe Trapanese – This is an 11-minute featurette that focuses on these two putting together the score of the film and trying to create the perfect type of atmospheric music to go along with each scene.
An Evening with Gareth Evans, Mike Shinoda and Joe Trapanese – This is a hefty 40-minute Q&A session after a screening of the movie. It’s as fun and informative as the above features, with some things overlapping, but plenty of new angles to cover as well. Like all the special features on the disc, this is definitely worth checking out.
The Raid: Redemption is one of the best straight up action movies I’ve seen in years. There’s so much going on at any given moment that the tension never lets up once it begins. This is definitely a must-own movie for action fans, but it’s also one that should be seen by those who want to spend the evening watching things get bloody. Highly recommended.
Sony Pictures Classics presents The Raid: Redemption. Written and Directed by: Gareth Evans. Starring: Iko Uwais, Joe Taslim, Donny Alamsyah, Yayan Ruhian, Pierre Gruno, Ray Sahetapy, Tegar Satrya, Iang Darmawan, Verdi Solaiman. Running time: 100 minutes. Rating: R. Released: August 14, 2012. Available at Amazon.com.
Tags: Gareth Evans, Iko Uwais, Linkin Park, The Raid, The Raid: Redemption