Director: Gareth Evans
Cast: Iko Uwais, Joe Taslim, Yayan Ruhian, Doni Alamsyah, Pierre Gruno, Ray Sahetapy
Plot: An elite SWAT team find themselves trapped in an apartment complex when the crime lord they're sent to apprehend, locks the building down and sends his gang from every floor of the place to kill them.
Review: I've waited nearly a year to see this. After hearing so many good things about it, I knew I couldn't let the opportunity to watch The Raid: Redemption slip by.
This film is the second collaboration between director Gareth Evans and lead star Iko Uwais, the first being Merantau, which is said to bear resemblance to Thai action star Tony Jaa's Ong Bak. Like Jaa's film, The Raid is a balls out, brutal masterpiece featuring plenty of bone crunching fights.
Evans is a master of his craft, evident in his ability to not make the same mistake most Hollywood directors do: film the action too close or in poor light. Evans keeps the camera steady and makes sure we can see every punch, kick and blow and where it's coming from. He even has a few nifty tricks up his sleeve, for example there is a scene where he shows in slow motion, how a flare from a gun being fired lights up the dark and the consequences that follows. It's just beautiful to behold.
As for the action itself, it's just awesome, there's no other word for it. Sure, it can get mind numbing at times seeing people getting bludgeoned and beaten, but it's never dull. Thanks to both Uwais and co-star Yayan Ruhian, who plays the crime lord's right hand man Mad Dog, who choreographed the fight sequences, the audience is given a treat to some of the most brutal fights ever seen on film. Ruhian's Mad Dog is a perfect killing machine as he barely slows down in dishing out punishment, and is a joy to watch.
The Raid does suffer from a few flaws though. Evans actually tries to inject some substance into his film by throwing in a few twists here and there, like why the team can't call for backup, or Uwais' character's connection to someone in the building. Whenever Evans addresses these subplots, the film slows down. There are also glaring plotholes, like certain members of the SWAT team being unusually careless for example. And I couldn't help but feel distracted by the bad English dubbing. I know they were trying to market this film in the west, but couldn't they have just kept the original Indonesian audio and use English subtitles?
Despite that, The Raid: Redemption is a solid action movie. It would have been perfect if Evans had made it straight and simple though. But if you love action movies and have no qualms about excessive violence, you have to see this. (3.5/5)