Homefront movie
7.25 out of 10
The Hunger Games: Catching Fire movie
8.75 out of 10
Disney's Frozen movie
10.0 out of 10
Delivery Man movie
6.75 out of 10
8.25 out of 10

Saturday, April 7, 2012

The Raid: Redemption

Brutal Evictions

Rated: R   Strong brutal bloody violence and language (sub-titled).
Release Date: March 23, 2012
Runtime: 1 hr 41 mins

Director: Gareth Evans
Writers:  Gareth Evans
Cast: Iko Uwais, Joe Taslim, Doni Alamsyah, Yayan Ruhian, Pierre Gruno, Ray Sahetapy, Eka 'Piranha' Rahmadia

SYNOPSIS: A SWAT-like police squad is assigned to take down a major mobster holed up in a fortified apartment hi-rise, filled with surveillance, armed enforcers, and tweaked out tenants all the ready to gain the approval of their underworld landlord for free rent.

REVIEW: Writer and director Gareth Evans, known for the 2006 Footsteps and the 2009 Merantau, returns to helm another of his own scripts. Set in a vague recent-day Indonesia setting, Evans creates a story with enough adrenaline and non-stop action to choke out a horse.  
Rama (Iko Ukwais, Merantau) starts the early morning preparing for a raid assignment to commence that morning. He leaves his very pregnant wife and father and heads to work. As a rookie SWAT officer, he finds that he and his fellow new recruits are considered liabilities by Lieutenant Wahyu (Pierre Gruno, True Love). The commander of the team, Jaka (Joe Taslim, Karma), orders the secondary team, with Rama included, to hang back while the primary team starts up the base of the apartment building to evade the camera and take out main mobster Tama's (Ray Sahetapy, Dilema) spotters along the way. Eventually, though, a spotter manages to get the word to the top floor and to Tama that the police have infiltrated the building. Once Tama is alerted, he tells the entire building's residents, killers, enforcers, and squatters through the intercom system that killing the invading police squad will results in getting into his good graces and free rent. From there, Rama, Jaka an the rest of the surviving team become targets in a shooting gallery of stairwells, apartment studios, and mezzanines, unable to make forward progress to their intended target or to retreat out of the hi-rise structure to safe escape.

Directly in the middle of the film's poster, it states 'The Best Action Movie in Decades!'. After coming out of the theater as the lights started coming up, I very well may be of the same opinion. Maybe not '...in Decades...', but The Raid: Redemption has such a massive overbalance of action sequences in relationship to straight drama, it is difficult to argue - or even come up with another recent film that comes close. Bruce Willis' 1988 Die Hard comes to mind, of course, with its own hi-rise building and a lone gunman facing insurmountable odds against aggressive, driven thieves (no, they were not terrorists!). Glimmers of one of my recent favorites, Attack the Block, is another with its close quarter combat spilling from the apartment building's hallways and stairwells into random apartments. The number of spent cartridges may not equal that of Stallone's The Expendables, but the insistent and rapid automatic weapons fire echoing through the apartment's open internal balconies makes it like it was.

But aside from the flashes of semi- and full-automatic weapon discharges, the brutality and beauty of the choreographed hand-to-hand fight scenes is nearly without equal. Seldom do I, as an action flick junkie, look away or 'oooh' out loud during action fights. In The Raid; Redemption, it happened more than once. Some sequences took me by surprise by their length, volume and brutality. And some sequences just surprised me with moves that I haven't seen before or hadn't seen 'that way' before. In the credits (check out www.imdb.com), there are groups of fighters in the dozens. The 'Carrying Bowo Fighters' goes from one to eighteen, the 'Hole Drop Attackers' from one to eight, the 'Drug's Lab Guards' up to a total of twenty-one. Death comes in many flavors and, I think, most are on gory display in this film - to wonderful effect and enjoyment!

Iko Uwais' Rama may be a rookie on the team, but he has fierce and fast fighting skills. Uwais has been training in the Indonesian traditional martial art, Silat, since he was 10 years old, plus having a National Championship title under his belt from 2005. Yayan Ruhian, who plays Tama's main enforcer Mad Dog, did, in fact, once trained Pencak Silat to the Indonesian Presidential Security Forces. The climatic battle between the two of them is something to behold. Uwais and Ruhian both had a heavy hand in choreographing the action throughout the film.

There have been amazing action films throughout the last thirty or forty years, coming from Hollywood (Die Hard, The Matrix), and from around the world, including dozens of fighting films from Hong Kong (most Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan films, director John Woo flicks) and Thailand (Ong Bak). The Raid: Redemption now ranks as one of best in terms of action because it starts the action early, and keeps the adrenaline rush going all of the way until the end. The plot may be light, providing a backdrop for the action to move from one scene to the next, one floor to the next. But The Raid: Redemption will leave you exhausted and exhilarated, ready to ask the same question as I did - what other movie comes close to this one!

WORTH: Matinee or DVD (for fans for the genre)

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