The Raid: Redemption
aka Serbuan maut
Written and directed by Gareth Evans
One man, one building, hundreds of potential opponents. A police raid gone wrong, way wrong, sets up The Raid: Redemption, as the cops are wasted, leaving only a few stragglers to be slowly picked off. There will be no rescue, no backup, thanks to layers of corruption so thick they have to make the sequel about them. But no one counted on Rama being the best fighter in the universe.
The Raid was hyped as the most actiony action film that ever actioned, and then it actions some more. Well, I don’t know about all that, but it was pretty actiony. The fighting is intense and hardhanded, and quickly devolves to hand to hand combat. As the surviving cops’ numbers shrink and they are slowly hunted, the tension mounts up, keeping pace with the action.
The biggest problem with The Raid is the lack of good character development. The rudimentary structures are there, but aside from falling into some templates, the characters aren’t that rounded out. Rama is the good cop and son because he just is. Andi says he was a disappointment and is better at being a criminal…because he says so. If anything, only Mad Dog and the corrupt Wahyu have any sort of build beyond their templates. And while we don’t really need everyone to be fully nuanced, it’s nice to have some depth occasionally.
But still, the fighting is furious, the action is intense, and The Raid is one martial arts film you will watch again.
A raid upon an entire apartment complex by one squad is going well until the villains up top are tipped off. Soon most of the cops are massacred in a running battle through the run down apartments as the cops flee from a ravaging mob that has descended to get a piece of the reward for killing them. The pitched battles here involve one of my favorite action bits of all time, the cops literally chopping their way through the floor to the apartment below, and a cop runs forward and grabs one of the goons that was descending after them and throws him out the window.
Rama is a pious man, a family man. We see him at home, preparing, putting his body in order. His pregnant wife worried in bed, his father with a worried stare, discussing a matter we won’t find out the subject of until the middle of the film. Rama’s praying, he’s presented as a righteous champion of virtue. We want to like him from the start, as he encompasses ideals to look up to. He helps the shaking nervous member of the squad, he’s the guy the non-squad leader doesn’t like. When an innocent guy just trying to give medicine to his wife in is in the wrong place, Rama keeps him from getting hauled away so his wife can get her medicine.
Rama’s goodness pays off, his helping of the husband guilts him into saving Rama and Bowo. By saving the injured Bowo, Rama is kept separate from his group, which helps him reconnect with his brother Andi and avoid Mad Dog’s lethal squads.
Villains make any movie where conflict is involved. The Raid gives us three main villains and a lot of minor troubles. Yayan Ruhian’s Mad Dog will go down as one of the memorable martial arts baddies. His love for killing, the rush he feels, is visceral. You can see it when he snaps a neck. It’s like a ritual to him, the only time he feels alive is when he’s taking someone else’s. The battles he fights, he ends up coated in sweat. They feel real, they look exhausting. It’s brutal, hardcore fighting. The weight of how tiring they look adds to the drama, the characters exhausting themselves past the limit but battling onward, because the only way out, the only way to live, is to fight on.
Tama is the boss they are after, the big fish who has all the police on the take. Tama has free reign to do whatever he wants, and he does so with a vengeance. His mood changes from your average guy to crazed businessman in a flash, the murderous bloodlust gives him thrills. But he has a method to his madness, he strikes those that oppose him. What sets him off is standing in his way. He’s very good with a hammer. Tama is very smart, and knows more about how the city and police force works than the cops. He lords this information over Wahyu, mocking him for being expendable.
The brutal fighting helps makes the scenes where the cops are being hunted more effectively tense. The enforcer with the giant machete slowly coming towards the hiding cops, armed only with one very small dagger, puts you on the edge of your seat wondering if things are going to get worse.
The choreography and silat battles are the reason people watch, and they are as grand as you could wish for. Fights begin with knives and axes and quickly devolve to desperate hand to hand fighting, characters just beating the crap out of each other like animals. Of particular note is when Rama beats up one guy and slams his head into every tile on the wall on the way down, breaking each one. As cool as the fights are, they make the rest of the film more disappointing as it pales in comparison. The dark grey color scheme ends up looking awful when screencaps are taken. One of the best choreographed films, The Raid is helping to set new standards of action. As the sequel promises a grander tale, here’s hoping it gets the story it needs to go along with the action.
Rated 7/10 (concerned, corrupt, lookout, intercommed, be quiet, goon, goon)
Please give feedback below!