The faint-hearted would be advised to stay far away from The Raid: Redemption, a bone-crunching Indonesian action film that even martial-arts fans will take a little time settling into. This roughly 100-minute film has very little dialogue…and very little of anything other than non-stop brutal fight sequences that are both thrilling and repelling. When you’re not staring at the screen, transfixed by the gruesome action, you’ll be peeking from between your fingers, unable to turn away despite all the bloodshed.
Director Gareth Huw Evans sets up a simple premise – a group of police officers in Jakarta raid a building complex run by a crime lord who lives on the top floor and has video cameras installed everywhere. As the cops work their way up to his 15th floor den, they must fight an army of henchmen who attack them along the way.
As it turns out, the cops had underestimated exactly who they were going up against. Within minutes, the gangsters wipe out a majority of the cops, with only a handful left trying to fight their way out. One among these is rookie cop Rama (Iko Uwais), a lean, mean fighting machine, who’s hiding a secret about a connection he shares with the crime boss’ right-hand man.
Best described as an orgy of violence, The Raid relentlessly assaults you with its gut-punching, neck-snapping fight scenes. Everything from guns and knives, to hammers and refrigerators are used as weapons to bash, smash, pummel, and stab one’s rivals in this film, although it’s the brilliantly choreographed hand-to-hand combat scenes that really stay with you.
Evans creates a memorable lead in Rama, a brooding hero with single-minded determination to achieve his goal. Even more memorable is the sadistic killer, Mad Dog, the kind of guy you don’t want to get into a fight with. The final confrontation between Rama, Mad Dog and a third fighter is just exhilarating and exhausting all at once. You could argue that the film has an almost videogame-like approach to violence, and you’re right. But it’s also fun to watch for exactly the same reasons that videogames are fun.
I’m going with three out of five for The Raid: Redemption. It’s fast, it’s gruesome, and it’s a guilty pleasure that’s hard to resist.