Ever see an action movie that totally took you buy surprise and got you so psyched after seeing it that you were compelled to whoop some ass of your own? Well, that’s exactly how I felt after walking out of my screening of The Raid: Redemption back in April. I didn’t kick the shit out of anyone, but it had been a long time since a martial arts film got me so hyped up like that.
The story begins when Rama (Iko Uwais) and his fellow Indonesian SWAT team members raid an apartment building that is run by drug lord Tama (Ray Sahetapy) and his gang of ruthless thugs. Things go awry and the team is nearly taken out. Rama survives along with a small number of his team, and together they attempt to complete their mission.
First off, I’m going on the record as saying that Iko Uwais is going to be the next big star in martial arts movies. This guy is absolutely fearless when it comes to kicking ass and I don’t think I’ve seen someone perform crazy shenanigans like he does since Tony Jaa in the original Ong-Bak. His fight scenes, especially the one that takes place in the finale, are freakin’ amazing.
That being said, the movie follows the standard action movie plot of a few against many. It doesn’t break any new ground (and is extremely similar to the set-up for Dredd 3D which was made at the same time) and is predictable as hell, but it is made with such enthusiasm that it’s hard not to be swept up in the plight of the characters. Director Gareth Evans knows exactly what needs to be done in order to ratchet up the suspense and tension followed by a serious display of brutal violence, be it martial arts based or gunplay. He also has a keen eye for shots that compliment the action. He also keeps the camera far enough away from the actors/stuntmen so that we can make out each and every move they perform, unlike most of Hollywood’s films where the action is so zoomed in we can’t make heads or tails of what we’re seeing (The Dark Knight Rises).
The film isn’t wall-to-wall action. There is a plot at work here. Rama knows someone inside Tama’s organization, maybe a family member of some sort, that he has sworn to protect and get out alive. I won’t ruin anything here, but it’s pretty predictable. It’s the catalyst for the final battle which is one of the most astoundingly choreographed and violent fight scenes ever committed to film.
The other plot device at work is about a possible insider within the police that is responsible for the deaths of the majority of the team attempting to take the building. This sub-plot is not so successful. It too is predictable, but serves as more of a distraction from the main characters. The resolution at the end I felt was pretty disappointing and typical for the genre.
I have to give some special props to Mike Shinoda (Linkin Park) and Joseph Trapanese’s rock/techno infused score. If the action scenes get you worked up, their music amps it to a whole other level.
I’m not going to go into much more detail about this film, because it’s something you just have to see for yourself to get the full effect of its awesomeness. I for one cannot wait to see Gareth Evans’ future films as well as Iko Uwais’ progression up the action star ladder. These talented dudes are going places, and their work can only get better and better with time.
4.5 out of 5