Bullet Points: The Raid: Redemption
The Raid: Redemption is one of my favorite action movies of all time! There, I said it. I love the fact that the movie doesn’t try to be anything more than it is. It doesn’t throw in random love interests or characters with daddy issues, it’s just balls-to-the-wall action from start to finish. I don’t expect anyone to watch this movie and say “boy, I wish they would have more story and less action.” If you do hear someone say that slap them in the face and tell me about it. Not every film has to play to every demographic or crowd. The Raid is a badass movie filled with awesome fight scenes and characters who kick truck-loads of ass for people who like movies that do all of those things. To put it simply…it was my dream come true.
The Gist: A group of elite SWAT members in the Indonesian city of Jakarta are making a raid on a 15 story building filled with a drug kingpin and his army of deranged and demented tenants. Besides the fact that the SWAT team is outnumbered and outgunned, they also have to deal with the fact that Tama Riyadi (Ray Sahetapy), the lunatic man in charge, knows that they’re coming. With no backup on the way their only chance is to fight their way to the top through hordes of murderous thugs.
The Cast: The cast works in a way that a big named star in the leading role wouldn’t. I normally hate Hollywood remakes but I am especially nervous for the Hollywod re-puke of this one because part of the tension comes from not knowing who is going to survive and who might die at any moment. If history is any indication of how it will turn out, just watch the absolute garbage heap that is the Red Dawn remake. I expect it to be a colossal disaster. Iko Uwais is much better here than he was in Merantau but I would say that part of that is the action really telling the story and allowing him to focus more on the movements and less on the dramatic storytelling. The supporting actors do a decent job of not taking too much away from the star. Seven of the SWAT members attended a “bootcamp” before production to learn different techniques for the film and it shows. I get so frustrated watching movies where actors are asked to do anything tactically and fail in the worst ways possible (eat shit Mark Wahlburg). There are still plenty of times where you see guys changing magazines with the wrong hand or using hand and arm signals with the shooting hand but that is to be expected.
Iko Uwais has all the makings of an action star.
The Villain: While Tama is the ruthless mobster in charge of the building and the drug operation, I find that Mad Dog is the far more interesting character. He spends more time on screen and he gets to be involved in several of the most important scenes in the movie (the Jaka fight and against Rama and Andi specifically). His confidence in his own fighting abilities lets him put his gun down to engage in an all out war with Joe Taslim’s character Jaka and then in the end to go all handicapped match on Rama and Andi. Despite his small stature, there is no doubt that he was a total badass. It kind of reminds me of the final fight scene in Lethal Weapon 4 where Jet Li takes on both Gibson and Glover. It is a good way to save face for the villain as a hardcore killer while still giving the audience the happy ending. Another villain of note is the character of Lieutenant Wahyu, played by Pierre Gruno. He may be better remembered as the white-haired asshole that pretty much gets everyone killed. A special shout-out to the Mad Dog character from another favorite movie of mine, Hard Boiled. To say that it was an inspiration to this Mad Dog is pretty likely.
Hey asshole, just shoot him and save everyone some time!
The Action: I would describe the action in The Raid in two ways: it is absolutely relentless, and it has a definite sense of urgency. You never see characters just standing around waiting to attack Rama or the other cops. I have seen a couple of reviewers comment that the movie took too long to get going….are you kidding me? There is a very minimal amount of build-up because of the simplicity of the story. Once the action starts, it doesn’t let up. That is the beauty of this movie. Even when the characters are hiding, there is still tension because they know someone is looking for them and they have to act quickly if they want to make it out alive. It’s weird to see a movie get slammed for taking too long before the action, and in the same sentence not having enough story elements. All you need to take away from this about the action is that this movie is one of the best action flicks of the past decade and much of that is due to the excellent choreography and film making by the cast and crew.
The final battle against Mad Dog is fantastic…and tiring.
Take it Home:
- Realness: Yayan Ruhian, who played Mad Dog, once trained the Indonesian equivalent of the US Secret Service in Pencak Silat in 1989 and the Indonesian Military Police Corps in the 1990s.
- Fight Science: Pencak Silat is the main martial art displayed in this movie, but director Gareth Evans wanted to also show other art forms so we get to see Iko Uwais and the other actors use a number of different forms such as Tae Kwon Do, Judo, and various grappling techniques.
- Carpenter-isms: There are several homage’s to John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13 and Escape from New York.
- That shit stings!: All of the rifles used during filming were air soft guns. They had to go in during post-production and add in things like the muzzle flash.
- My favorite quote: Mad Dog describing his dislike for guns, “Squeezing a trigger, it’s like ordering takeout.”
Someone saw a spider.