If you’re an action movie fan and don’t own “The Raid: Redemption,” I can safely assume it’s just because you haven’t seen it yet. And if that is the case, you should fix that this second as you’re missing out on one the most insane action spectacles you’ll ever see.
The plot is very basic — a SWAT team goes to a tenement to shut down a vicious gangster only to become trapped in a in a fight for survival against his seemingly endless army — but it gets the job done and Director/Writer Gareth Evans even manages to work in a few twists you probably won’t see coming.
Jaka (Joe Taslim) leads his 19 team members, including the rookie Rama (Iko Uwais), into the building to once and for all take down the crime lord, Tama (Ray Sahetapy) and his lieutenants Mad Dog (Yayan Ruhian) and Andi (Donny Alamsyah). Joining the assault is Lt. Wahyu (Pierre Gruno), who’s looking to settle an old grudge with Tama.
My only regret was watching “Dredd” a few months before as it featured a somewhat similar plot of police officers fighting for their lives in a slum ruled by an evil crime lord. Thankfully, the films take different approaches in getting through the henchmen gauntlet.
This will resonate most strongly with the 25 to 39-year-old male demographic weaned on marathon sessions of Nintendo and Sega Genesis beat ‘em up video games. There’s definitely a sense of battling the swarms of bad guys on a stage and then having to tangle with the boss to advance to the next level with even more overwhelming odds.
From the machete wielding lunatics to Mad Dog, it won’t be easy for Jaka and Rama to get the team out safely. Ruhian may be 5 feet, but he makes Mad Dog one of the most intense, deadliest bad guys you’ll find.
Evans shows a great sense of how to stage fight scenes and is very reserved in quick cuts or shifting perspectives. It makes the fights seem more brutal and an actual matter of life and death and less the product of a film editor carefully splicing away in tune to a soundtrack.
This is definitely not a pretty showcase film. It’s dark, frequently washed out and you can see the budget restrictions in nearly every scene —Evans had a $1.1 million budget to work with — but in this case, the bare bones approach helps the production. There’s a grimy, realistic feel to it and doesn’t look like some glamorous Hollywood version of a slum.
I’m not so much recommending “The Raid: Redemption” to action fans as I am saying you really have an obligation to see it to witness what has a legitimate claim of being the best action film of all time.
Rating: 9.5 out of 10