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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 10%
Average: 3.33%
Pretty Bad: 3.33%
Total Crap: 3.33%

3 reviews, 12 user ratings

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Raid, The: Redemption
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by Brett Gallman

"This is how you make an action movie."
5 stars

Sometimes, I think we have a tendency to overcomplicate this whole criticism thing by working over the nuts and bolts of a film and attempting to distill them down to gobs of words. I’m especially guilty of being a little verbose, so I’m glad when a film like “The Raid: Redemption” comes around and can be succinctly boiled down and described as “cool” and “kick-ass.”

Gareth Evans’s second film is fuelled by minimalism and economy; in short, a local drug lord (Ray Sahetapy) has holed up in a slummy apartment building, and a SWAT team has been tasked with conducting a raid. It’s might be a bit passé to compare a film to video games at this point, but it’s accurate in this case since “The Raid” especially takes us back to the simplicity of 8-bit gaming, back when the president being kidnapped by ninjas was enough of an excuse to pound pixilated thugs into oblivion. “There’s the bad guys--go get ‘em” was the mantra, and it’s essentially recited here.

Essentially. I may be overselling the simplicity a tiny bit since there are a couple of tightly wound little tales here that revolve around the rookie team member (Iko Uwais) and the squad’s shady lieutenant (Pierre Gruno). You get a sense of who these guys are almost immediately--the film is obviously not without some modicum of setup, and it’s clear that the former is dutiful not only to the force, but also to his family (which is growing since his wife is pregnant). On the other hand, the latter is conflicted and seems to be sneakily hiding something. All of this comes across within minutes, and the same can be said about Sahetapy’s protagonist; in the span of one scene, he’s revealed to be a ruthless and sadistic sort. You don’t want to cross him or his two henchmen, both of whom have reputations that precede them. Evans puts on a great show with these two--we know one is supposedly a walking flurry of fists and feet, and one of the film’s many joys is seeing this for yourself.

There I go pontificating again, so let’s get down to why “The Raid” really works, namely its spectacularly-crafted action and ruthless sense of propulsion and escalation. Both of these elements work in conjunction, with the action starting out on an intimate scale--a watch guard is stealthily picked off before the team enters the building. Before you know it, full-fledged gunfights have broken out and the film has given a new meaning to the “raiding the fridge.” I was admittedly a little worried during a lot of this early on because the camera jitters around here with reckless abandon, with coherence being tenuous.

But then everything settles down and Evans treats us to some of the most fantastic hand-to-hand combat choreography in recent memory. Fluidity, grace, and brutality all merge in these astonishing set-pieces that are akin to watching the most visceral and wince-inducing ballet you can imagine. There are moments where you’ll be convinced that half the cast wandered straight from the set to an infirmary, while the other half was wheeled onto a slab in a nearby morgue.

And you don’t just feel it--you can actually see it; just last night, I was complimenting “Solomon Kane” just for competently capturing action, but “The Raid” is a spectacular marvel of handheld photography and incredible stuntwork. Again, it’s just the bare essentials, and Evans’s guerilla-style bobbing and weaving manages to create a genuine sense of awe that can’t be recreated by the false, empty spectacles that are often dutifully trotted out to multiplexes.

Evans not only understands the spectacle of an action film--he also understands its rhythms and pacing. Even the most incredible action can become exhausting and a tad repetitive, and we’ve seen a lot of directors make the mistake of concocting huge, elaborate set pieces and leaving them be without downtime and room to breathe. “The Raid” avoids this with clever plot mechanizations and some nail-biting suspense sequences to sufficiently bridge the gap between the martial arts and gunplay.

“The Raid” is an intimate film that still plays big; it might toss you into this grungy, dilapidated apartment and confine you there for most of the film, but you’ll believe this place is huge after you’ve scaled its 30 floors of absolute mayhem. This claustrophobic setting has more often been home to paranoiac thrillers, but Evans masterfully turns it into a deathtrap where danger consistently lurks around every turn. His use of these environments during the actual combat is also terrific and keeps the choreography from feeling too staged--you get the feeling that these guys really are walloping each other all over the place, and there are some massively satisfying payoffs to these fights because of it.

I’m all for variety and ingenuity, but I’d be okay with every future action movie riffing on “The Raid.” Sheer, relentless chaos and violence are rarely his mesmerizing; I could especially watch Yayan Ruhian--who comes across as a sinewy, feral wolverine--fight for hours. That’s probably the best thing I can say about “The Raid”: just looking at it is tremendously entertaining, and it ascends to amazing heights and great company as a masterwork in action cinema.

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originally posted: 04/14/12 15:37:47
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2011 Toronto International Film Festival For more in the 2011 Toronto International Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2012 South By Southwest Film Festival For more in the 2012 South By Southwest Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2012 Sundance Film Festival For more in the 2012 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: ActionFest 2012 For more in the ActionFest 2012 series, click here.

User Comments

9/23/18 the killer Insane action 5 stars
2/15/15 john i just saying LOL 1 stars
8/17/12 The Taitor Great hand to hand action, decent plot, but could have been better, rental 3 stars
8/11/12 action movie fan bruce lees films were much better-weak story good fights 2 stars
5/13/12 randy todger amazing beyond belief.please dont remake this hollywood as you will fuck it up as usual. 5 stars
5/12/12 Josie Cotton is a goddess 'Ong-Bak' meets 'The Warriors' meets 'Die Hard'! Not original but entertaining. 5 stars
4/21/12 Matthew Thompson Dalldorf Kick-ass! 5 stars
4/16/12 Darkstar one of the best action movies i've ever seen. 5 stars
4/08/12 mr.mike Iko is awesome , movie is good. 4 stars
4/04/12 Jason Coffman Kicks ass in ways ass has never been kicked! 4 stars
4/01/12 Benny A mixture of Jackie Chan style with Tarantino brutality.... 5 stars
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  23-Mar-2012 (R)
  DVD: 14-Aug-2012


  DVD: 14-Aug-2012

Directed by
  Gareth Evans

Written by
  Gareth Evans

  Iko Uwais
  Doni Alamsyah
  Yayan Ruhian
  Joe Taslim
  Ray Sahetapy

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