on June 10, 2012
Here's some fun math for you...This entire film cost as much to make as ~52 seconds of Transformers 3. I'll say that again. For the same price, you could make either a) the best action flick since John Woo's Hong Kong masterpieces, or b) 52 seconds of bloated PG13 mediocrity. Stunning.
In any case, the second collaboration between Gareth Evans, Iko Uwais, and Yayan Ruhian demonstrates just how far you can take the form. The plot is simple and straightforward, and set up with incredible economy. A few carefully edited scenes and a smattering of dialogue puts all the pieces in place, then it's 90-odd minutes of exquisitely crafted mayhem.
Technically, the film is very well shot. The camera work is both fluid and at times surprisingly creative (they pull off a great drop-down shot early on using one camera but two cameramen). Most importantly though, it's choreographed into the action itself. The camera is the 3rd (or 4th or 10th) player in the fight scenes, moving with the actors to give the audience a clear view of the lightning fast techniques while highlighting the incredibly kinetic nature of the fights themselves. And kinetic is the only way to describe the fighting. The choreography in The Raid is the some of the most aggressive I've ever seen. There's no dancing around, no sizing each other up, no slow-mo, and definitely no waiting around for a downed opponent to regain his feet so the fight can continue. The actors go after each other like their lives really are at stake, attacking relentlessly from whatever position they find themselves in, using whatever weapon is available. Silat (the primary martial art on display here) is a viciously practical close-quarters system, and it's full range of open-handed combination strikes, knees, elbows, and grappling techniques is on full display; along with some knife-work that's almost too fast to keep track of.
This is a particular treat for martial arts fans who have seen a lot of Karate, Kung Fu, or Muay Thai films. The mobility and variety of attack angles employed by Silat fighters is distinct and makes the already aggressive choreography doubly unpredictable. These guys never stop moving. The stunt work is top notch, and you really get a feeling throughout the movie that these guys are hungry for it. This is their big shot to bring Indonesian martial arts to a western audience, and they pull out all the stop to make it happen. While the level of violence has been criticized by some as being gratuitous and misanthropic, what I see is an incredibly driven crew of young, talented Indonesians going balls-out to earn their indigenous martial art a permanent place in the genre canon. As far as I'm concerned, they succeed and then some.
One final thing that sets The Raid apart from most other martial arts flicks is the weird but successful blending with the survival-horror genre. In between fights, Evans ratchets up the tension as the dwindling number of survivors try to evade roving bands of bloodthirsty killers. This alternation between tension building stealth and explosive action keeps you on the edge of your seat pretty much the entire time. It's a very smart way to do things, and avoids the usual curse of foot-taping "I'm bored, when's the next fight" the plagues a lot of genre films. Not that there's any shortage of fight scenes. I can think of plenty of martial arts movies for which the climactic showdown was less exciting than every single action sequence in The Raid.
Anyway, I've gone on long enough. This is the new high water mark for pure, unadulterated martial-arts mayhem. I can't wait to see what these guys come up with next.
"The Raid: Redemption" is a movie that pulls no punches. Or maybe that's all it pulls. It's been a long while since I've seen a film so relentless, so brutal, and so unapologetically violent. Writer/Director Gareth Evans' film is a non-stop barrage of fisticuffs, shoot-outs, and explosions. It is a well choreographed exercise in action movie mayhem and it succeeds wholly in its intentions. If you want a nuanced screenplay, in-depth characterizations, or an intricate plot--"The Raid: Redemption" might not be your first choice of entertainment. Don't get me wrong, I like and expect those things too. But if you give yourself over to the visceral experience of this down and dirty movie, it provides more thrills and excitement than a slate of Hollywood blockbusters. If you like action films, this micro-budgeted indie flick shot in Indonesia (yes, it's subtitled but, believe me, the dialogue is relatively minimal) has got to be on the top of your must-see list.
Evans reunites with the star, Iko Uwais, of his previous film "Merantau." While "Merantau" showed promise, it was plagued with a relatively uninspired plot and some serious pacing issues. While I'd still recommend it to fans of the genre, it didn't fully come together in the way that I hoped it would. Both Uwais, as a martial artist and a screen presence, and Evans, as a creative force, have upped their game in "The Raid: Redemption." Uwais plays an upstanding cop who is part of a SWAT team in Jakarta. The plot is very simple on the surface. The officers must infiltrate a slum apartment building that houses a gangland overlord and his band of criminal mercenaries. But on their way to the penthouse suite, they must fend off countless attacks as their numbers dwindle. There is a little political back story, as well, with corruption and greed factoring into the equation as to just why the building is being raided in the first place. You need more plot? Too bad.
What you get instead is relentless action. The pacing is dynamic and the tension escalates throughout. There are some terrific combat scenes, lots of gunfire, and an endless array of hand-to hand fight sequences. The martial arts aspect to the fighting is exciting and extremely well done without being too over the top. "The Raid: Redemption" did quite well on the film festival circuit (winning audience awards in Amsterdam, Toronto, and Dublin) and with the majority of mainstream critics (including raves from the Los Angeles Times and USA Today). The reason seems very simple. The movie doesn't aspire to be anything other than what it is. Evans focused on making a brutal and exhausting bit of ultra-violent escapism. And that's exactly what he and his team delivers. Is it a perfect film? Not particularly. Could it have benefited from improved storytelling? Probably. But what it does provide more than compensates for what it doesn't. In the end, this movie may not be for everyone. That's perfectly fine. But I suspect that the film's reputation will only grow in certain circles making it a true cult classic a few years down the line. About 4 1/2 stars, I'll round up for the sheer madness of it all! KGHarris, 6/12.
Included Bonus Features:
Commentary with Writer/Director Gareth Evans
6 behind-the-scenes video blogs with Gareth Evans
Behind the Music: Featurette with Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park and composer Joe Trapanese
Inside the Score: A trailer teaser for Mike Shinoda's first feature score
An Evening with Gareth Evans, Mike Shinoda and Joe Trapanese feaurette
Conversation with Gareth Evans and Mike Shinoda: Details on the hard shoot, score, stunts, and themes
An Anatomy of a Scene: Outlines hole drop sequence
THE RAID TV Show Ad (circa 1994): Spoof of an actual 1994 Japanese anime TV commercial
Claycat's The Raid: Lee Hardcastle's UK claymation short film with a Mike Shinoda music score
Writer/Director Gareth Evans learned his lesson from MERANTAU, his earlier collaboration with former truck driver and now budding martial arts star Iko Uwais. MERANTAU exhibited some first-rate martial arts mayhem but was crippled by Evans' meandering pace and flat explorations of the lead character's culture. In THE RAID: REDEMPTION (or "Serbuan maut") Evans sets us up with everything we need to know about premise and characters within the first five minutes. From then on, brother, it's best that you grab hold of something. Nerves will be jangled and eyes glued and behinds parked precariously on the edges of seats.
Sub-text and this film go together like Merchant Ivory cinema and Uwe Boll. And yet, sometimes, there's something to be said for guerrilla filmmaking. THE RAID: REDEMPTION is strictly no frills, production values-wise. But Gareth Evans makes the most of his shoestring budget and minimalist plot. He turns the focus on the action sequences. You know how, in martial arts films, the plot merely serves as a framing device for the fighty fights? Here, the plot makes a cameo appearance and then gets the ef out of Dodge lest it catch a vicious Iko Uwais boot to the head.
In the slums of Jakarta looms a squalid 30-story highrise, an apartment complex which the vile ganglord, Tama Rivadi, rents out to assassins, psychopaths, gangsters, and drvg traffickers. Tama's impenetrable sanctuary has long been regarded as a "no-go zone" for the police. Until today. Today an elite squad composed of twenty police officers has just gotten the go-ahead to infiltrate Tama's fortress and capture Tama himself. What are the odds they could do this on the Q?
The squad manages to systematically secure only the first few bottom floors before the cat is let out the bag. From then on, it's an apocalyptic fight for survival. There's a twofer in this one: RAID: THE REDEMPTION is most recognizably a martial arts film, but there are elements of the survival horror genre peppered in. Tama Rivadi is quick to offer lifelong tenancy to them residents what take out the coppers.
Get your raw thrills, get your jaw dropped. Gareth Evans and Iko Uwais have created something primal here, and credit Evans, too, for establishing an oppressive atmosphere. I would not want to be caught in that lethal tenement, with homicidal maniacs swarming up on me. THE RAID: REDEMPTION is an Indonesian film (with English sub-titles) and, as such, it gleefully showcases the nation's traditional martial arts discipline, Pencak Silat. What Evans constructs with the action sequences is stunning. He adeptly stages the tense gunplays. But when the ammo runs out and the firearms discarded, what's left is intense, close-quarters, I can smell your breath, hand-to-hand combat, and that's when the film achieves another level of excitement. Evans applies deft camera work to capture the speed, grace and brutality of Pencak Silat. Iko Uwais plays the unassuming rookie cop, Rama, who only wants to survive the mission and return to his pregnant wife. Uwais demonstrates a quiet appeal; he's certainly got more of an acting presence than Tony Jaa. And Iko Uwais in motion is something to behold. I'd put his electrifying marathon hallway fight and, later, his extended brawl with the machete gang against any other fight scenes captured on film. Uwais and Yayan Ruhian - who plays Tama's vicious lieutenant "Mad Dog" - choreographed the fights, and what they've come up with is UNREAL!
And just when you think the film's action couldn't top itself, it does. I don't know if these fighty fights are that original or inventive, but, damn, they're executed with such verve and swagger and shot with such clarity that they deserve all the plaudits and hyperbole. The pulsating score only punctuates the electrifying symphony of violence. I won't go too much into my favorite kill, only that it involves the jagged remains of a door and that one baddie gets rudely introduced to that.
The pace blisters. Even the quieter moments are laced with nervous anxiety. There's enough "acting" done that you do end up caring about certain characters and what befalls them. Ray Sahetapy nails it as the deliciously malevolent ganglord Tama. Joe Taslim lends solid presence as the experienced Sergeant Jaka, one of my favorite characters in the film. THE RAID: REDEMPTION won't escape comparisons to ONG BAK and DISTRICT B13, and that's fine. Moment for moment, in terms of relentless pace and sustained suspense, RAID is superior to those other two, especially ONG BAK. Is Tony Jaa still a hermit in the woods? Can he still handle a goon so that the poor bastard goes hurtling backwards on a trajectory across empty space and nearly cracks in half against a lower railing? Iko Uwais just did that.
Ear to the ground news is that there's already a sequel in the works. I'm not sure how Iko Uwais plans to top this film without setting himself on fire. Niche market, my butt. Even the more sophisticated crowds owe it to themselves to see this one. After all, THE RAID: REDEMPTION is an independent foreign movie. It's practically Merchant Ivory.
The DVD's bonus stuff (with English sub-titles):
- Audio Commentary with writer/director Gareth Evans
- 6 Video Blogs: includes the cast undergoing military bootcamp, the cast rehearsing their fight choreography, behind the scenes of Rama's fight with the machete gang, Sgt. Jaka's fight with Mad Dog, the hole drop sequence, and much, much more (totals 00:39:30 minutes)
- An Evening with Gareth Evans, Mike Shinoda (of Linkin Park), and composer Joe Trapanese - a moderated onstage interview (00:40:38 minutes)
- Behind the Music with Mike Shinuda and Joe Trapanese (00:11:05 minutes)
- Anatomy of a Scene with Gareth Evans - the director talks you thru the process of shooting the Hole Drop scene (00:02:15)
- In Conversation - Gareth Evans and Mike Shinoda Q & A each other (00:11:31)
- Inside the Score - a short promo featuring Mike Shinoda, clips from THE RAID, and rave blurbs from film critics (00:01:22)
- Claycat's THE RAID - a claymation spoof of the film... with cats (00:02:56)
- THE RAID TV show ad, circa 1994 (00:00:44 seconds)
- Theatrical Trailer
on September 20, 2012
For those of us who saw Iko Ukwais in "Merantau," THIS is the film we've been waiting for. Those slow pacing issues from "Merantau" are no longer an issue. Once the film reaches the 20-minute mark, the film becomes a non-stop punching, kicking, and stab fest. And there is quite a bit of stabbing in this movie! There is not a dull moment with the gun fights and fist fights.
This film comes to blu-ray uncut, in high picture quality, with the original language and score. Mike Shinoda from Linkin Park provides an alternative score. *I've watched the film with both scores and I personally find the rap beats annoying and prefer the original score.
THE RAID: REDEMPTION is one of the most successful movies I've seen in YEARS. It's not the greatest movie, by a long-shot...but the gap between its ambition (which is pretty high) and its actual accomplishment is almost non-existent. I've long believed that movies need to be judge, in part, on how well they accomplish what they attempt, and not just how "good" they are by some high-brow, artsy standard. Thus, a low-brow comedy like KNOCKED UP can get 5 stars from me because while it isn't great art, it meets or exceeds all its own goals. And by the same token, a gorgeous, ambitious, "serious" film like, oh, let's say ANNA KARININA only gets 3 or 4 stars, because its reach so far exceeds its grasp.
THE RAID: REDEMPTION is darn near perfect. It wants to be a nearly non-stop, adrenalin-fueled, ultra-violent, martial-arts heavy action movie. It tries to strike a balance between incredible tension and the visceral release of that pent-up tension. It wants to shock and awe. And it does.
Set in Indonesia, we meet a group of heavily armed and armored cops who are planning a raid on a very tall apartment building. At the top of this building sits the city's most vicious crime lord, along with his two cruelly effective henchmen. Beneath them, for floor after floor, is a seemingly endless string of bad guys, the scum and villains of the town. The cops must fight their way from bottom to top...and once their presence is exposed the viciousness and intensity of the fight is nearly ceaseless.
The movie, while not based on a videogame, is the best example of a videogame movie I've seen. Granted, that's a low bar...but THE RAID clears that bar so effortlessly. The action sequences, which start with gunplay and then devolve first to knife play and then hand-to-hand combat, are among the best I've seen. I've never been a huge fan of the MMA/martial-arts type of combat, where the hero and his foe kick, punch, block, flip, etc. But I've NEVER seen so many fights staged so brilliantly or executed with such brutal fervor. This is no exaggeration...during some of the action sequences, I found myself on the edge of my seat, talking to the screen (or yelling at it). I simply DO NOT do that, yet I couldn't help it. I was engrossed and engaged.
Yes, there is a bit of a story. We are introduced, perfunctorily, to several characters and we do learn a few things about them. There is even a bit of a surprise relationship that is revealed late in the film. There are moments for dialogue and for catching a breath. I wouldn't say the dialogue is brilliant or the acting Oscar caliber...but it is a little better than one might expect. Iko Uwais plays Rama, our young hero...and he's a convincing screen presence (and a helluva fighter). This is the kind of movie that relies on archetypes to gives us a shorthand for understanding the characters. The heroic rookie, the guy with the smart-aleck remarks, the leader with a secret, the potentially corrupt higher leader, the insane bad guy, etc. etc. What THE RAID does, however, is take these stock characters and put them in nearly perfect motion for maximum impact. Gareth Evans wrote, directed, edited and co-choreographed the film. In my mind, his is one of the most singular accomplishments in recent film history. Again, his goals are not exactly lofty or ennobling. But I can barely conceive how he managed to succeed so well where so many others have tried and failed.
This is a brutal film, and many viewers will not be able to finish watching it. Some will find it glorifies violence or is just deeply depressing in its depiction of insane violence. For me, it was a rush from start to finish. It was a punch to the gut, but it was somehow uplifting as well. It's simplicity of plot and tightness of purpose set it up to succeed beyond anything I could have expected. I had heard it was good, but was skeptical. "Surely that's just fanboys and genre nuts talking," I said to myself. But I was wrong. Evans and his talented team delivered one of the most thrilling movies I've seen. Wow!
on March 23, 2014
Are we back to the old days? I mean, the days of Bruce Lee for instance, where fights look real, action takes are longer than in recent movies, and the story - while simple - fits the action well and is therefore interesting..
Rama is part of a SWAT team in charge of getting down a drug lord. He doesn't know more and, at first, all looks like the usual good vs bad bad plot, until interesting and shocking revelations come out throughout the movie.
Gareth Evans directed the movie in Indonesia. Actors rehearsed the actions many times until the perfect shot was reached - often for 16 hours a day... The result is breathtaking. Do we have only action/fights in this movie? Quite a lot of action, yes. But the director was able to add his personal and subtle touch that make the difference with many other (poor) movies: characters are shown via an atmosphere, some remarkable directing approaches that keep us focus for the whole 1 hour and 41 minutes.
Keep an eye on Gareth Evans. He is a very promising director.
Indonesians actors are the perfect cast (most of them were not actors before the movie). Besides the charismatic Rama, they've all figured out a way to be unforgettable! The dark machete guy (who is an architect in real life), "Mr Miyagi" Mad Dog, the intriguing yet scary drug lord....
And a special mention for the original soundtrack.
A must see if you like good action / fighting.
on March 27, 2014
I have been waiting to see this movie for a while, ever since I heard all the hype about it being one of the greatest action movies ever made. While it doesn't quite live up to the hype, The Raid is still an intense roller-coaster ride of a movie. The ending three way fight is worth the price of admission alone. It has maybe the best martial arts fight choreography that I have ever seen.
The action sequence are very well done. The ones in the beginning are essentially gun fights while the later ones are all hand to hand combat after everyone runs out of ammunition. The Raid is also super-violent and bloody, definitely more than the normal action flick. That could definitely be a turn off for some.
If you are an action fan, this is definitely a movie that you will want to check out.
on March 8, 2013
Upon seeing this film, I was astounded. Not since John Woo’s ‘Hard-Boiled’ had I seen such intense and frenetic action. To put it bluntly, ‘The Raid’ is one of the greatest action films I have ever seen, and probably ever will see in my lifetime. And yes, before you ask, I have seen quite a few, both good and bad.
In some ways, this film achieves what very few action flicks ever do in that it loosely flirts with the concept of merging into experimental cinema. It’s ultimate dependence on pacing in its script keep it from crossing over, like any film centered around set pieces (i.e. musicals or action films), but ‘The Raid’ and other noteworthy action pictures blur the line a bit. In this film, actions speak louder than words — much louder, in fact. There are maybe 30-40 lines of dialogue total throughout the whole film. The entire conflict is built around the film’s premise, which concerns a SWAT team trapped inside a hostile apartment building deep in the slums of Jakarta. The lean narrative merely provides the setting and sets the pace for what is primarily a visual exercise (with bone-crunching sound effects). ‘The Raid’ is a gritty, gruesome, ultraviolent dance of death that is every bit as darkly beautiful as it is terrifying and painful to watch. Every minute of the film focuses on our team of heroes as they shoot, punch, kick, elbow, knee and stab their way to freedom, all while trying not to get dismembered in the process.
This brutal, bloody ballet of an action movie wisely sticks to a simple, yet effective plot and inserts just enough character development to make the audience connect with and root for the main character, Rama, and to make the action engaging and suspenseful. By no means is the violence in ‘The Raid’ without consequences. Particularly noteworthy alongside the top-notch action is the tone and atmosphere of the film. While unquestionably an action film, ‘The Raid’ has tasteful tinges of the horror genre sprinkled about, with suspenseful hide-and-seek moments, dark, gritty, and grimy environments, and an atmospheric tension that never lets up.
Of no less important note are the expert cinematography, which allows writer/director Gareth Evans to showcase his action scenes in wide scope and avoid the famous/infamous ‘shaky cam’ technique, and the ever crucial element of pacing — the latter of which has become increasingly poor in most recent action flicks, a la ‘Thor’, ‘Iron Man 2,’ ‘Quantum of Solace,’ ‘Transformers,’ and the third ‘Pirates of the Caribbean.’ We might as well throw all Nicholas Cage “action-packed” adventures in there for good measure, too. ‘The Raid’ puts them all to shame. Even somewhat unique and perfectly fun fight-fests like ’300′ are easily shown up by the fight scenes that Evans brings to the table. The magic product comes from the chemical mixture of the two most important aspects of action movies that I already alluded to: Great fight scenes and effective pacing. Evans benefited hugely from working with martial artists, Iko Uwais and Yayan Ruhian, who play the protagonist and antagonist, respectively. Not only are both men professional athletes who can act (well enough), the two fighters are also brilliant choreographers that make the fights as brutal and aesthetically impressive as a masterful Bollywood dance ensemble. And again, Evans pulls the camera back so that the audience can appreciate the full glory of the bloody fights, allowing us to actually see what the hell is going on. In ‘The Raid,’ one selling point that is present no matter what, is that it is always crystal clear who is smashing their knee into whom’s face. Always important.
It goes without saying that ‘The Raid’ is not for the feint of heart, although it would be awesome if everybody could see action movies of this caliber. ’300,’ ‘Ong Bak,’ and the ‘Bourne’ movies would be good warm-ups. This film deserves to be in the upper echelon of action films every bit as much as the ‘Die Hard,’ ‘Predator,’ ‘Aliens,’ ‘ The Matrix,’ and ‘Hard-Boiled’ films of the world. However, because of its very style, ‘The Raid’ looks, sounds, and feels a lot more brutal and violent than all those films. It is one of the most violent films I have ever seen. When you see Uwais stab a combat knife into a guy’s quadriceps, and then rip it all the way through the muscle to the knee cap, it really looks and feels like he stabbed that guy in the quadriceps and ripped the blade through the knee cap. The actions on screen are often times painful and even exhausting to watch, but you will be on the edge of your seat the entire time. And really, why else would you watch a movie?
‘The Raid’ is in a lot of ways, the ultimate guy/machismo movie, although there are no Rambo or Arnie body builds in sight. Hell, even the film’s main threat is the smallest guy in the whole damn building. But the entire point behind the film, and much of what makes the project so impressive, is that so much was done with so little. On a measly $1.1 million budget, ‘The Raid’ eclipsed what dozens of wannabe action flicks tried and failed to do with resources (literally) a hundred times the size of Evan’s brainchild. ‘The Raid’ is not about looking tough so much as it is about doing the tough stuff — quite matter-of-factly, walking the walk. If your girlfriend can make it through this, she’s a keeper.
The centerpiece of any ‘action musical’ should be the action, and in this area, ‘The Raid’ absolutely excels. Shootouts, hand-to-hand combat, machete and knife duels all combine to make the gory violence varied, intense, and engrossing. The action in this film is so damn good (and it is strong enough in other areas too) that all moviegoers should watch it. For serious, there has not been an action film this good released in at least twenty years. Experience hardcore violence the way it was meant to be experienced: dark, gritty, bloody, and absolutely unapologetic.
+ The film’s pacing is outstanding, making the action scenes hit hardest and keeping things exciting even when the fists and bullets aren’t flying.
+ The choreography and brutality of the fight scenes put all but the best action adventures to shame. Jason Statham, Gerard Butler, and Nicholas Cage ain’t got nothing on this s***.
+ The intense tone and grimy, dim atmosphere holds strong throughout the entire plot, and gives this fight-fest a very distinct look and feel.
- Some of the fights almost last too long. Some repetitive sound editing.
? Mike Shinoda did the score for this, LOL. And it was pretty good too, double LOL.
on April 18, 2013
The Raid: REDEMPTION is an Indonesia Martial Arts film which captures the spirit of 80s/90s martial arts films but enhances them with the cinematography, camera styles, and musical tastes we've become accustom to. A bit of a slow starter, the film sets up a simple premise: a SWAT team are given orders to capture a ruthless drug lord and attempt a surprise attack on the building he resides in. The situation quickly escalates into a fight for their very survival. JAKA, the team captain, just wants to get everyone out - while RAMA has an agenda he seeks to keep from the rest of the team. Very simple premise, ample characterization and some awesome fight sequences.
That said, this movie isn't for the faint of heart: it's graphic - lots of violence, lots of blood with the ability to make you cringe at certain scenes (one involving a door, the other involving a ledge). The Bluray comes with the movie - no DVD copy.
My biggest complaint about the product: The UV copy of the film is NOT in English - it is in subtitled English. It's a pain in the ass to claim through VUDU but as of last week, signing up through VUDU also allowed you to get ten free movies in addition to the Raid. Not bad. The Bluray itself is in dubbed english (which means English voice actors spoke translated dialogue - it fits quite nicely) and you can choose whether you want the original soundtrack or the retooled one created by Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park.
on April 16, 2014
I only saw this because of the great reviews for The Raid 2. But this is a great movie (and, by the way, I strongly recommend seeing it BEFORE seeing 2 -- 2 picks up right where this one ends). The fighting scenes are among the best I have seen and they all look real. I loved the effects of Crouching Tiger and The Matrix when they came out, but now everyone uses them, and no fights look real anymore (which was the point in those two movies and has been forgotten by most martial arts movies today). These look real and plausible and are simply amazing. The choreography is astounding. And brutal. This is a brutal movie that does not shy away from showing everything.