Written by Gareth Huw Evans
Welsh born director Gareth Huw Evans and Indonesian martial arts choreographer Iko Uwais follow up their 2009 cult flick Merantau by kicking up the action and violence to mind-boggling levels for The Raid: Redemption, a magnificently brutal and breathlessly exciting effort that will have even the most hardened action or kung-fu movie fans out there on the edge of their seats by the conclusion of Evans’ story in this blistering action flick.
In The Raid: Redemption, we are quietly introduced to Uwais’ character Rama, a SWAT team member who’s unit is carrying out a covert assault on a 15-story apartment block in the Jakarta slums which also happens to be the hideout of one of the city’s most notorious crime lords named Tama (Ray Sahetapy), who hires out the rooms in the building to the city’s worst criminals and killers.
But as you can imagine, the operation doesn’t go as planned (if it had, there’d be no movie), and soon Rama and his fellow SWAT team members find themselves trapped within the confines of the dilapidated building; the odds are against them as they are outnumbered and unprepared to deal with the onslaught of killers lurking the halls who are ready to do Tama’s bidding and take down the officers during a brutal bloodbath of gunfire and flying machetes.
So what starts off as a mission to bring a crime lord and his empire tumbling down soon becomes one of survival, as Rama and his fellow officers begin to get picked off one by one, particularly by Tama’s two top henchmen, Andi (Doni Alamsyah), and the appropriately named Mad Dog (Yayan Ruhian) who will stop at nothing to protect their boss and the block from the invading SWAT squadron.
And while that all seem pretty simple, don’t let the basic description fool you- if you call yourself an action fan, there’s just nothing that can possibly prepare you for what Evans throws at you during the film’s entire running time in The Raid: Redemption. Simply put- this is hands down the best action flick of the last ten years and if you dig on flicks like Assault on Precinct 13, Die Hard, Hard Boiled, then you’ll want to have your ass firmly planted in a theater seat when The Raid: Redemption gets its limited theatrical run on March 23rd.
What’s amazing about Evans’ work on The Raid is that he somehow manages to find a way to consistently continue to rev up the madness throughout each act of the film and there’s never a lagging moment from start to finish. Just when you think there’s no possible new way to punch, kick or kill a dude- The Raid shows you just how wrong you are; it’s hard to remember the last time an action film had this kind of raw, visceral impact, with choreography from Uwais, Ruhian and countless other fighters offering up some truly stunning set pieces.
And while John Woo may be the guy who created the “bullet ballet,” it’s evident that Evans is the right guy to take on that mantle now as his work on The Raid takes the concept to the next level with a masterful blend of sword play, gun play and good old-fashioned jaw-smashing fisticuffs that looks as beautiful as it does painful.
Of course, violence and action on their own do not necessarily make for a great film, so thankfully Evans manages to subtly work in several storylines that simmer just below the surface of all the action, making for a truly entertaining experience all around. All of the leads in The Raid: Redemption deliver incredible performances beyond just what they can do with their fists and feet with Uwais establishing himself here as a talent on the rise (seriously, Hollywood- put this guy in every action movie from here on out and you won’t be sorry with the results). It’s really only a matter of time before both Uwais and Evans blow up here in the States, with The Raid: Redemption already being touted by many critics as one of the best films of 2012 and It’s only March.
And while all of this may sound dangerously close to gushing, the bottom line is that The Raid: Redemption is worthy of every single accolade it receives and then some. It’s been a while since there has been an action movie this visceral and jaw-dropping; as relative newcomer to the world of directing, it’s astonishing just how masterfully Evans blends action, suspense and familial drama so intricately, making The Raid a modern pulp masterpiece that is absolutely worth all the hype and praise that has been heaped upon it since the film debuted during the Toronto Film Festival last year.
Both Evans and Uwais are clearly at the very top of their game and the results are nothing less than astounding and I’m already waiting with baited breath to see what the pair can concoct for their follow-up feature.
For all you action movie aficionados out there, I cannot say this enough- make sure to seek out The Raid: Redemption during its limited theatrical run later this month; the sheer spectacle of what Evans and his incredibly talented cast and crew have managed to achieve with their low-budget, high-ambition action flick absolutely deserves to be enjoyed on the big screen.
5 out of 5