The Raid: Redemption (2012)






THE SCOOP
Director:  Gareth Evans
Cast:  Iko UwaisAnanda George, Ray Sahetapy
Plot:  A SWAT team becomes trapped in a tenement run by a ruthless mobster and his army of killers and thugs.

Genre:  Action / Crime / Thriller

Awards:  -
Runtime:  101min
Rating:  M18 for strong brutal bloody violence throughout, and language.

IN RETROSPECT (Spoilers: NO)

The Raid: Redemption is the latest high-concept action film to hit our theatres: A SWAT team attempts to infiltrate a building that houses a ruthless mobster and his army of thugs, only to find themselves trapped with no way out.

For me, the concept is cinematically simple: The Raid is simply Hard Boiled (1992) meets Oldboy (2003). Gareth Evans juggles three roles as director, writer, and editor in this high-octane, endlessly unrelenting film that some have hailed as one of the best action films of the decade.

The Raid is not just any action film, it is a hardcore one. It is extremely brutal, and can be considered to be one of the most violent films ever to get a commercial release here in Singapore.

Hyper-realistic in its depiction of brutality, the film sees a slaughter-fest with loads of blood spilled, and men from both sides killed in various gruesome fashions. The consolation is that Evans hits us with a hammer on the head early in the film such that we become desensitized to the violence as the film progresses, even as it escalates in intensity.

Evans is such a skilled action director that he gives us inventive camera movements that accompany the unbelievable action sequences. Hardcore action fans will admire the work that has gone into making the film's action set-pieces and fight scenes an art form. 

Fight choreographer and actor Iko Uwais (Merantau, 2009) delivers some mind-blowing (you can tell my vocabulary bank is running short of words) hand-to-hand combat with his adversaries, some of which, for better or worse, extend to nearly ten minutes long.

Plot is irrelevant here. Despite some effort to tell the back stories of a couple of characters, the focus always reverts back to the action. The Raid, for all of its arresting visuals and tight pacing, wouldn't have been half as good if its sound mixing and editing were done haphazardly.

Here, sound is a revelation. You can feel that sharp pain in your gut as you cringe from not only seeing but hearing a thigh being stabbed, or a throat being slashed.

There is one particularly suspenseful sequence that sees two characters hiding in a corner behind a fake wall in a room as a thug surveys the wall by poking it with a machete with ferocious force as he makes his way from one end to the other. The sound alone in this sequence will make you cower in fear.

You will be surprised to learn that The Raid is actually an Indonesian film shot in Jakarta. While films from Indonesia rarely make it big in Southeast Asia, let alone in nations that represent the Western hemisphere, The Raid is that one film that has made an incredible breakthrough in the American market, and has now been screened worldwide to a rousing chorus of acclaim.

Die-hard action fans will worship this film for its artistry and technical brilliance; the rest will be advised to bring a pillow along for squeezing purposes. Do you know that squeezing a pillow produces a calming effect and releases tension? Anyway, I've never seen a contemporary action film this outrageously violent, this outrageously good. this outrageously numbing.  

Verdict: Hard Boiled meets Oldboy, this superbly directed hardcore action flick will numb you to the core with shocking violence and gore.

GRADE: A- (8.5/10 or 4 stars)






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