Raid: Redemption, The (2012)
Release Date: March 23rd, 2012 MPAA Rating: R
Director: Gareth Evans Actors: Iko Uwais, Joe Taslim, Doni Alamsyah, Yayan Ruhian, Pierre Gruno, Ray Sahetapy
n elite squad of law enforcement soldiers is assigned to attack Tama Riyada (Ray Sahetapy), a ruthless drug kingpin with a newly established in-house narcotics lab, sure to be extensively protected. The target is idolized by pushers, killers, and gangsters, all of which revere him like a god – and many of them are under his employ to prevent just such an attack to the massive multistory apartment building fortified as his criminal headquarters. He also has the entire dwelling under video surveillance as he sits back in his control room on the 15th floor, counseled by his two main men, Andi (Doni Alamsyah), the brains of the business, and Mad Dog (Yayan Ruhian, also the fight choreographer), the brawn (despite being notably tinier than the other thugs). Sergeant Jaka (Joe Taslim) and the stubborn but seasoned Lieutenant Wahyu (Pierre Gruno) lead two teams, intent on sweeping the building floor by floor and stopping the spotters tasked with alerting the mob boss to police presence. The lookouts are mostly children, who are not unsusceptible to the bullets and deadliness of the situation, deemed a necessity by the heartless Wahyu.
As the troops sneak into the rundown building, peppered with trash, stains, rust, smoke, and grime, Tama is made aware of their infiltration. Within minutes, neighbors, snipers, and heavily armed gunmen wipe out the SWAT-like armored transport the cops arrived in, along with their eyes on the ground and the men stationed to secure various corridors. Rookie draftee Rama (Iko Uwais), whose character development includes a brief scene with his pregnant wife, winds up being outgunned and outmanned, but surprisingly well prepared for the reverse siege and ambush underway.
“Our mission is simple. We go in and we take him out,” bluntly states Jaka. It’s a hilariously basic setup for an impressive little action movie. The opening sequence, demonstrating the routine of a cop preparing for an average day, smartly foreshadows a film of striking intensity – a momentary glimpse of the graphic martial arts mayhem viewers couldn’t possibly be prepared for. In superior style, there is nonstop hand-to-hand combat, an escalation in dueling henchmen (with a “boss fight” of unforgettable proportions), various surprise complexities with the relationships between characters, and of course, twists with allegiances and the mission.
Camera angles augment the action choreography, frequently swiveling and dropping about to follow character movements. The sound effects are also superb, with tricks such as cutting out to mimic the loss of hearing by one of the downed officers after taking a bullet to the helmet and the intricately timed patter of dart-like hands and feet. The fighting style is gritty, bloody, cruel, and thrillingly awe-inspiring, making use of rapid-fire, flamboyant movement, abrasive, hard-hitting contact, brutal weaponry (the favorite tool being machetes), and choreography that masterfully utilizes props and sets. It’s like the bloodthirsty, nasty version of Jackie Chan. The fighting never gets boring, despite moments of excessive savageness, thanks to creative orchestration and many sequences that are so complexly frenetic they’re laugh-out-loud funny. The music (by Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda) also works in admirable conjunction, perfectly amplifying the brawling and tactical movements through hazardous locations – themselves embellished with interacting equipment, graffiti, filth, and gnarled structures, alive with combating bodies and billowing blood. Uniquely originating from Indonesia, “The Raid: Redmeption” is how martial arts movies should be handled – well paced, engagingly choreographed, and downright fun.
– Mike Massie