The Raid, Redemption: A Review

My brother and I caught this SM Cinema Exclusive at 50 percent off using our E-plus cards during its first weekend screening. I originally thought that it was going to be a horror based on the poster but it actually turned out to be a great action/grindhouse movie instead, filled with hard core action scenes that will tire out audiences, but in a good way.

The Raid: Redemption is an Indonesian movie featuring Iko Uwais as Rama, a young police officer who is part of an elite team that will raid an old apartment complex whose residents are mostly hardened criminals, in order to capture the notorious drug lord Tama Riyadi. Jaka (Joe Taslim), the sergeant who heads the action warns the team early on that Riyadi is being protected by two of his most trusted henchmen Andi (Donny Alamsyah), the brains behind the operation, and Mad Dog (Yayan Ruhian) who takes care and enjoys doing the dirty work of the operation (such as torturing and killing people). At the site, the team meets up with Lieutenant Wahyu (Pierre Gruno, The Witness), who has the most information about the assignment. When one wrong move, however, compromises the entire raid, the apartment building becomes a warzone, and members of the squad are killed off en masse by hordes and hordes of bloodthirsty criminals under Riyadi’s command.

I think what makes The Raid a great watch is its ability to let the movie speak for itself. It has a decent story that does not rely on twists to amaze the audience. Rather, it helps them enjoy the film by providing a progressive story, top notch cinematography, great action scenes  — the contrast between the earlier part of the film and the time that the raid was compromised was so great and the music (scored by Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda and Joseph Trapaneze) seemed like a signal — a switch that turned up the action part of the movie in a split second. From awfully quiet textbook arrests to what the hell, we’re getting killed panic upon the realization that they’re sitting ducks in the middle of enemy territory. Priceless.

But the best part of the entire thing is really the purity of the action scenes, especially the hand to hand combat featuring the Indonesian martial art of pencak silat. The fight choreographers of this movie (who also happen to be lead actors Iko Uwais and Yayan Ruhian) deserve a standing ovation and a major raise for the flawless and technically rich action sequences that will have audience’s hearts pumping and their jaws dropping. Some of the moves are done so fast that one would have to want a remote to slow down the scene to break down the movements. Some of the best action I’ve seen ever.

Credit to the film’s lead actor Iko Uwais who plays Rama. He is not only a skilled fighter but a great actor as well, being able to convey his character’s emotions and personality despite the darkness and the hopelessness of his team’s predicament. He was also the smartest of the bunch, being able to think on his feet to save his comrade’s butts most of the time. Donny Alamsyah was also great in the movie but the character that stood out for me was Mad Dog. The guy really seemed like an Energizer bunny, going after his opponents with single minded focus, without a care for his personal well being. (That’s why his character was named Mad Dog, after all)

Bravo to filmmaker and screenwriter Gareth Evans, for making this movie as straightforward as they come. By not trying to overcomplicate and simply focusing on the execution, Evans came out with one of the best action movies ever from Asia and may even have created a new niche for Indonesian cinema. I read somewhere that he was being tapped to direct a Hollywood version but I don’t really see how they can still improve on this great film. But with Evans on board, I believe that I’m going to keep the faith that they come out with something at least equal to this original.