Movie Review: The Raid: Redemption

Stars: Iko Uwais, Donni Alamsyah, Ray Sahetapy, Yayan Ruhian

Rated R for Pervasive violence and language, subtitled. Running time 101 minutes, Action/Adventure

Plays like: Ong-Bak (2003), District B-13 (2004)

I remember watching Jackie Chan movies nonstop when I was a kid and thinking, “Why didn’t I hear of this before?” Now I know that a big issue with people and foreign films, regardless of how much fighting and how little dialogue is in them, can have a hard time coexisting. Because in most cases, people don’t want to read. That’s all well and fine, but it’s their fault that they’re missing out on a truly great martial arts film that’s a awesome as it is violent.

Rama (Iko Uwais) is a cop assigned to a rookie SWAT team that’s been ordered to takedown Tama (Ray Sahetapi), a ruthless druglord with ties to seemingly every thug and murderer in the city. The problem with the team taking him down is that Tama resides in his 30-story hotel; his hotel, infested with every criminal that’s looking for a place to lie low. As the polce enter the building, they’re met by hundreds of killers and thieves who are looking to do whatever they need to so as to get rid of any intruders and keep their hideout.

The set-up is simple: cops are trying to bust a criminal. They have to get him at the top of this building, and survive long enough from and endless barrage of crackheads and killers to make it there. From that, we get numerous fight scenes, where bodies are thrown from 15-25 stories up, machetes are swung, and limbs are cut, and man, do they make it look painful. From the time the team enters the building, it doesn’t quit until the end and being that is so simple, it makes me wonder why more action movies get this simple formula down with getting bogged down with forced drama and action cliches. Our lead man, Rama, has a wife with a baby on the way. Being that his enemies are a bunch of thugs who yell things in battle like “TAKE THE LEG!” when one minion has ahold of the protagonist’s limb, we don’t need much more than that for us to want him to make it through this. It seems that many screenwriters don’t give us any reason for us to care about the character, or they’ll try to wedge in something about being an orphan with dead parents. We’ll have few scenes or a long drawn out scene with them explaining their past when all we really want is the action. And this delivers.

The fights mostly showcase a rarely seen (at least in the US) style known as Pencak Silat, a style that often incorporates the use of blades and daggers into their handwork. And while it’s at times laughable, the idea of any random strung-out crackout being proficient in this style and even taking on the police as they do in this film, any gaffs or mistakes made are forgivable with how entertaining the action is. A favorite fight of mine is one between Jaka, the head of the SWAT team and Mad Dog, the drug lord’s right hand man. Yayan Ruhian, who plays Mad Dog, can’t possibly be over 5’4 at the tallest. Yet as short as he is, he makes himself a worthy opponent in some of the most brutal and well-choreographed fights that I haven’t seen since Thailand’s The Protector in 2005. Frentic and fast paced, no matter how many times one character picks up another and slams them into a wall, it’s just as impactful everytime it happens.

If there were a complaint about this film, it would have to be the sound effects. Whoever did them must’ve just gotten so caught up in the action they were synching the sound to that they got a little too trigger-happy. Guns often cocks a half-second before the characters actually do it, a punching bag is hit so fast that we hear it hit more times than Rama actually hits it.

But for every great movie, there’s got to be a great soundtrack and this one’s definitely got it. It seems to be more and more popular these days for musicians associated with already successful bands to do a film’s score but if it keeps up the way it has, I’m fine with that. Trent Reznor and David Fincher have had a long standing relationships that’s worked well for them in Social Network (2010) and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo (2011), RZA of Wu-Tang has done several including the Afro Samurai and all that entails. Now, Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park has got his own piece in movie history. The score fits perfectly with tone of the film, keeping the feel of staying light on the toes while fitting in a gritty industrial sound for the fights with a little more weight to them. The scene when we realize the cops are no longer in control is handled especially well. I also feel the need to mention that Shinoda co-wrote a song for the end credits with Chino Moreno of Deftones, my personal favorite and ends the movie perfectly. Look up the song, Razor’s Out and see what you think.

Grade: B+

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