The Raid: Redemption

This ultra-violent Indonesian martial arts fight fest will definitely awaken your senses and have you swinging your arms and kicking your legs as you leave the theatre.  Part Ong-Bak (2003) part Elite Squad (2007) and part Attack the Block (2011), it depicts a gritty urban war between machete wielding slum gangs and a special forces SWAT team inside a rundown housing block apartment building controlled by a local war lord.

The movie is basically a showcase for a new Indo-Malay action hero, Iko Uwais, whose fighting style is called Silat, a traditional form of martial arts practiced in Southeast Asia, which consists of using any object at your disposal as a weapon. It also has a lot of kicking and punching while throwing and pushing your opponent’s body into things. After the bullets run out and the knives are eliminated it’s down to hand to hand combat and anything else that can be found at arm’s length; tables, chairs, glass, you name it. 

This movie combines the police action/suspense genre like the Hong Kong thriller Infernal Affairs (2004) on which The Departed (2006) was based, with a unique martial arts style of street fighting in a claustrophobic environment. The story is about a team of 20 well equipped Special Forces police sent into a tower block in downtown Jakarta which is occupied by a powerful crime lord who controls the entire building with his crime gang of hundreds all living in the complex. Their mission is to take the building, floor by floor and capture the gang leader while fighting off his henchmen.

This is the perfect set up for a visceral non-stop action fighting movie and the fighting gets brutally bloody and ugly. Combining a documentary style of filming with the suspenseful story of an out numbered group of rookies trying to survive against a gang of sadistic criminals inside a darkened maze of hallways, apartments, doors and windows from which the enemy can attack, is so compelling that the audience I saw it with were cheering and clapping whenever a bad guy was dispatched in a particularly violent manner.

The bad guys are very scary characters and you definitely feel like cheering for the good guy who finds himself caught in the middle of this hellish situation. This movie really knows how to ramp up the suspense with character development and tense quite moments, and has raised the bar for the action/suspense martial arts genre, but beware this film is definitely not for the squeamish.

Sequels are already in the works and a Hollywood version is also being developed.



Kay Lorraine said...

Living in Hawaii can be both the good news and the bad news. The bad news is that we often don't get to see films that get released in most major markets. We have a better crack at Asian films, because of our population demographic and because the Hawaii International Film Festival has developed an international reputation for being THE best place for Asian films to connect with potential distributors.

But still, often the only way I get to see many foreign films or small independent films is on trips to New York or London.

The good news (other than our wonderful weather and lush scenery) is that I get to avoid stuff like "The Raid: Redemption," which sounds to me like a million other gory action films out there this year.

What makes this film worth sitting through all that blood and guts? Or is blood and guts the very REASON for sitting through this? :)

Just wondering,
Kay in Hawaii

JP said...

This movie combines the police action/suspense genre like the Hong Kong thriller Infernal Affairs on which The Departed was based, with a unique martial arts style of street fighting in a claustrophobic environment.

It will appeal to the younger male audience.

Biz Bitch said...

Oh, poop! It turns out that Hawaii is not isolated enough to avoid this Indonesian action picture after all. In fact, the men outvoted me today and I got stuck with paying actual money to sit through this sucker. I hated every minute of it.

Yes it is gory, but that's not why I hated it. The problem was the endless repetition. Same old martial arts moves over and over again. Even street fighting in a claustrophobic environment can get boring if it's all the same.

While watching the fighting scenes (which happen every 3 minutes - and last FOREVER) all I could think about was how much fun Jackie Chan would have had with the props in the location. He would have been running up the walls and flipping over the balconies, making each fight scene unique and interesting. There was none of that here, however.

This entire film takes place in a run-down high-rise apartment building. Now why a drug lord would want to set up shop in an apartment building filled with tenants would be a good psychology panel discussion as it makes absolutely no sense whatsoever.

Nonetheless, at some point the drug lord announces over the PA system that any tenant who kills one of the cops storming the building will get free rent. This brings out the tenants who all just happen to be males in their 20s! What are the chances of that? I think there were two females in this whole film, and they were both in bed. Again, what are the chances?

So as the cops move up from floor four to floor five and then six, the residents of each floor emerge with their machine guns. Yes, EVERY male on the 4th, 5th & 6th floor has his own personal machine gun with an unlimited supply of bullets. These tenants are otherwise poor so I can only assume they got them all as bar mitzvah gifts.

Then the cop reaches the 7th floor. The 7th floor is the Machete Floor. This is evidently the place to which they banish males who, for whatever reason, do not own a gun of any kind. So after floor after floor of hails of bullets, suddenly our hero is fighting off numerous men armed with virtually identical machetes. Clearly the prop department got a discount for buying in bulk.

This was also the "polite" floor. I say that because the men are polite and thoughtful enough to wait to emerge from their various rooms in groups of never more than a few at a time. That's particularly thoughtful because if they had all ganged up on the cop at once, he wouldn't have stood a chance. Fortunately, they each wait behind their door for the cue to emerge. This results in an endless amount of fighting, providing us an excellent opportunity to go to the bathroom without fear of missing any advance in the story line. Thank goodness there was not a single handgun on the Machete Floor because it would required us to just cross our legs and "man up." I hate it when that happens.

Speaking of the "story line," I can't honestly say that there was none. But I can assure you that the entire thing could have been conveyed in two minutes of expository dialog.

How this mess got a good rating is beyond me. Even the guys I was with (ages 18, 29 & 65) all hated it. Thank goodness. Maybe that means I won't get stuck with having to see the sequel about the cousin which they so obviously set up at the end.

Mommy, mommy, make it stop!!!

JP said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
JP said...

Nice comment/review Kay. It's always good to get an honest perspective from a pro. Sorry you got stuck paying and sitting through this film.
I didn't hate it but I knew it wouldn't be everyone's cup of tea.

I think you'll like Kahaani much better but don't know if it will be released in Hawaii.