Foreign Favourites: The Raid: Redemption

There have been all kinds of benefits to doing the Foreign Favourites series. There has been a fantastic reviews of films, the opportunity to show off some fantastic reviewers and even more inspiration to see more great films.  I haven’t been aware of Adam of Consumed by Film for too long but his site is awesome. Detailed film reviews, TV features, topical film commentary and his quotation of Ferris Bueller in his About Page is a very persuasive argument as to why you should check his site out

Before I get going, I’d like to offer my many thanks to Alex for letting me be a part of his terrific Foreign Favourites film series. There have been some really excellent reads so far. The Raid 2: Berandal is out April 11th buds!

The Raid film poster

Quick Synopsis: A group of highly skilled SWAT officers find themselves on the brink of disaster as they attempt to dethrone a viscous drug lord whose towering apartment block offers no easy escape.

Director: Gareth Evans

Release Date: March 23rd

Genre: Action; Crime; Thriller

Starring: Iko Uwais

Wallop! Bellows the word most commonly enunciated throughout The Raid, only it is heard via the unconventional method of inch-perfectly choreographed war. A blazing tussle between two factions: the police and the drug mules. It’s that simple, that effective. Gareth Evans, supported along the way by the wilful hands and feet of Iko Uwais, juxtaposes elegance and violence in an outing that laughs in the face of subtlety before delivering a swift head-kick. To say it’s not a film for everyone is untrue

– you won’t know that until the credits roll and by then you’ll probably be hooked.

After a substantial period of underworld dominance overseen atop an apartment block, crime leader Tama Riyadi (Ray Sahetapy) is about to meet a twenty-man police squad in a battle where there mightn’t even be one victor. Guided by his trusted sergeant Jaka (Joe Taslim) and their superior lieutenant Wahyu (Pierre Gruno), inexperienced officer Rama (Iko Uwais) soon finds himself in a tower of trouble as he must hammer his way towards the target but also survive wave after wave of right and left-hand men. He’s got a pregnant wife to get home to after all.

I’m about as well-versed in martial arts as Rama is at conquering high-rise buildings, but with the efforts of The Raid firmly embedded in mind, that ought to change. If it gets any better than this then must get pretty darn good indeed. Director Gareth Evans lays down his early markers, the only necessities of knowledge – youthful hero, expecting spouse, contained setting, despicable villain – and we’re off. It’s a B (for brilliant) setup and even though the plot is minimal, one absolutely does exist and exists in exactly the volume required. This isn’t Citizen Kane, nor does the film want to be never mind attempt. Instead, Evans displays a blank canvas ready to host hard-hitting action. Forget Cowboys and Indians in the Towering Inferno, Rama makes the John McClane of Die Hard look like the John McClane of A Good Day to Die Hard.

Iko Uwais does a tremendous job as the lead, full of energy and bearing a likeable ambience that you gravitate towards through an array of extraordinary manoeuvres. Others to look out for include Yayan Ruhian as Mad Dog who is rabid, merciless and full of bone-crunching bite (it’s all in the name) and Donny Alamsyah as Andi, another pawn in the explosive chess game. Bad guy Tama is played by Ray Sahetapy, and he carries out that particular shtick well. His drug lord is presented as a maniacal presence early on, cold-blooded and awaiting severe comeuppance.

The Raid is not a film to be admired for the characters it parades though. Rather, direction and operation and cinematography should rightfully take the plaudits here. There is no let up from the get-go – moments of stalemate and silence are packed full of tension where every sinew appears to be poised on the edge of destruction (weapons wielded, hands gripping, muscles tightening, in the United Kingdom, so here’s my review of The Raid to tickle the taste, 2012 (Indonesia); April 13th veins popping, eyes rippled). The substance is in the action, and it is the action that bolsters these intentionally peripheral characters. In an odd way the film plays like an extravagantly barbarous dance that demands applause upon concluding each sequence. Although shrouded in an air of violence, proceedings see actors move gracefully as they ascend and descend the structure. The choreography is purposeful but also hints at moments of foreshadowing, keeping us on our toes. An uncommon injection of sly humour does the same, oddly chiming well with the blunt overtone (“Where did he come from?”).

The camera work carried out by both Matt Flannery and Dimas Imam Subhono is a treat; inventive as it follows our warriors down holes, and absorbing through the use of slow-motion shots that emphasise the struggle and the pain felt by all. Encouraged by a score that fluctuates between an electronic beat and static grunge, The Raid is often reminiscent of a video game: Rama is always pitted against one enemy at a time when five coming at him simultaneously would probably get the job done. Then again, there’s hardly any strive for realism. One fight scene towards the conclusion rages on at a highly intense pace for a welcomed eternity, utterly riveting and admirable executed – if Darth Maul was that good, Attack of the Clones onwards would’ve looked a heck of a lot different.

A proud genre film that valiantly trumpets bruising bouts and painful punches, The Raid may well lack that bit of character development to oomph it that extra notch dramatically. Dramatic attainment is a particular aim far removed from Gareth Evans’ radar though, and this is about as good a one-dimensional Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em you’ll see. Rama is on the rampage, and he’s taking the martial arts movie to a whole new level… or thirty.

The Raid Redemption action shot

Rating: 4/5

My thanks to Adam for such a really cool review of a film I’ve been meaning to see for ages.  Looks full of wonderful action, stunts and a terrific baddie. I really do need to get onto it quick with the second film out. My sis is a huge fan of the film so she’ll be very keen to see what you think of The Raid 2.



19 thoughts on “Foreign Favourites: The Raid: Redemption

  1. I’ve still yet to see this morning, but I’ve heard nothing but good if you love Asian action films. The Raid 2 is suppose to spread out over Jakarta, and there’s even suppose to be a car chase in the movie–which, if you know Jakarta traffic, must have required a lot of high powered bribes to shut down streets and clear everyone out of the way.

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