Words by Benjamin Pinsent
Bored of the endless stream of superhero movies? Want something more from action films than an endless barrage of all American screaming and shaky cam? Well, you’ve found it, a small martial art action flick called The Raid: Redemption.
The Raid: Redemption is a little film made in Indonesia written and directed by a Welshman Gareth Evans. The plot is something that wouldn’t go amiss in a modern video game.An Indonesian S.W.A.T team are tasked to take down a major crime boss holed up in an apartment complex with other wanted criminals.
Everything is going fine until one little slip means that this small group of police officers have to battle their way out of the building using fists, feet and anything else that they can find lying around. Characters are bare bones, the twists are slightly clichéd, but you couldn’t care less, the story is only there as an excuse to tie together some of the best fights that you are going to see all summer.
Despite the lack of character back story and build up, one feels a connection to the members of the squad because of the severity of their situation. Standouts include Sergeant Jaka (Joe Taslim), Ray Sahetapy doing his best Jack Nicolson from The Departed as the owner of the apartment building Tama Riyadi. The main character Rama (Iko Uwais) has the makings of the next Jackie Chan or Jet Li, and despite the typical action hero cliché’s ala Die Hard he brings a new twist to the action hero, he is a team player and he is just part of a bigger picture, not all of the picture.
The main draw of the film is that it is a balls to the wall rollercoaster ride of action from start to finish. If you have seen other martial art films like Hero or Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon you know the fluidity and grace of “Wire-shu” but you will be completely unprepared for the brutality of Pencak Silat, the Indonesian traditional martial art.The close confines of the apartment building setting, does not allow for the dancelike choreography of Chinese martial arts films.
Instead each fight feels like a desperate chaotic struggle to survive against enemies with similar skill or the advantage of machetes and guns; this is a film that pulls no punches in terms of the fights during and after. Every strike leaves the audience winded and after the fight the victor stumbles away bruised and battered into another barrage of fresh enemies. People are thrown by their own heads, there are audible snapping’s as arms and legs are broken, and there is a scene toward the end that is very remains of the Black Knight scene from Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
The music reflects the action: composed by Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda it is a mix of dub step and heavy dance tracks that pump the audience up for another relentless fist-fest. This is where a feature of the film comes up, there is no come down, ever. The tension keeps on building and building, even after the fights when you expect to have some quieter moments, the senses seem even more on edge during these moments; we keep thinking someone is going to charge out of a door way, or someone is going to be shot through a window. You will leave the theatre shaking from the adrenalin pumping through your system and you will leave feeling as exhausted and bruised as the heros.
This is a film that you have to see, to really understand the power of it. There is no deeper meaning within the film, it is just fun. It is a film that can only be described onomatopoeically. It is a film that you will want to see again and because of it you may want to take up Pencak Silat like Bruce Lee made you want to do Kung Fu.
The Raid: Redemption is in selected cinemas now