The Raid: Redemption (2011)
Editor’s Notes: The Raid 2: Berandal opens tomorrow, March 28th.
On many levels The Raid: Redemption shouldn’t work. Firstly it’s a film set entirely in Indonesia that is written and directed by a Welshman. Secondly, said director Gareth Evans and the star of the film, Iko Uwais, are virtual unknowns. Thirdly there is virtually no plot to speak of and finally much of what you see is borrowed in part from many other films from Die Hard to The Wild Bunch via any martial arts film you care to mention. The thing is it does work…it works almost perfectly.
The Raid is without doubt one of the best, if not actually the best, action films of recent years.
Under the pretense of taking down a ruthless mobster a highly trained but inexperienced police S.W.A.T. team are assigned to “raid” a rundown, criminal infested tower block. Very quickly it becomes apparent that not everything is as it seems and as they become separated and overrun by the sheer numbers against them the mobster declares the building locked down and offers rent free accommodation to anyone eradicating the police threat. As the squad members are picked off one by one it is left to Rama (Uwais) to find a way out the tower rescuing as many of his men as he can.
The Raid is without doubt one of the best, if not actually the best, action films of recent years. There is barely a flaw to speak of in a film that draws you into this intensely bleak and brutal battle for survival as Rama tries desperately not only to evade the bloodthirsty residents of the dilapidated tower block, but also complete his mission and save his comrades. Against seemingly insurmountable and unrelenting opposition he fights with guns, knives, fists and even a refrigerator in one scene while trying to stay alive just a little longer. And boy does he fight. The Raid is not a silver lined, cartoon-esque portrayal of combat. This is a bone-crunching, wince inducing uncomfortable onslaught of ridiculous violence. It is a beautifully frightening depiction of one man doing everything, absolutely everything necessary to win. Never will you have seen such wonderfully and gorily choreographed fighting that is shown with such apparent realism that you almost feel like you’ve been punched yourself.
Director Evans oversees his film with relish and the eye of a voyeur and this extraordinary commitment is evident throughout.
Director Evans oversees his film with relish and the eye of a voyeur and this extraordinary commitment is evident throughout. From the opening encounters to the final, devastating battles there is a passion visible through the camera, a feeling that in the end Evans has made the film he wanted to see and that excited him, and this honesty and excitement is clear. It is as if the opportunity to make this film was so unexpected and so gratefully received that it was seized with both hands, with the determination to make the best film possible an overriding ambition. Even though you will have little time to admire the tower’s backgrounds and settings they have been skilfully created to resemble a slum and add to the despair and malevolence contained within. One key element is that you never feel anything other than support and hope for Rama despite the violence he delivers. This is because of the merciless criminal force he faces embodied by an incredibly evil performance by Yahan Ruhian as henchman Mad Dog; anything Rama must do is completely justified by what Mad Dog’s forces would do to him.
With a cast demonstrating martial arts skills with a speed and dexterity that has rarely before been seen, The Raid is an awe-inspiring film that grabs you from the first minute and doesn’t let go until the end credits, leaving you battered and bruised mentally and emotionally. It is a film whose reputation will grow with each year and will doubtless become a benchmark for filmmakers in the same way that the illustrious predecessors it respectfully references have done.
[notification type=”star”]95/100 ~ MASTERFUL. With a cast demonstrating martial arts skills with a speed and dexterity that has rarely before been seen, The Raid is an awe-inspiring film that grabs you from the first minute and doesn’t let go until the end credits, leaving you battered and bruised mentally and emotionally.[/notification]