THE RAID: REDEMPTION


An Indonesian action film written, directed and edited by a Welshman (what, you got a problem with that?). To say it’s an action film is an understatement. And, if you like this sort of thing, you’re going to be hard pressed to find anything this exciting or breathtaking for some time to come. In many ways, The Raid is just an excuse for some of the most violent, bloodiest, repulsive, sick and ravishingly beautiful fight scenes to grace (and I mean grace, pun intended) the screen in some time. In fact, they’re not fight scenes; they rise above such a mediocre designation. They’re ballet. They’re modern dance. They’re Jackie Chan and Fred Astaire on crack. In case anyone’s interested, yes, Virginia, there is a plot. A swat team of rookies are assigned to take out a drug dealer in a huge, decaying apartment building. All they have to do is get past the dealer’s never ending hoards of machete and machine gun wielding thugs who never seem to die, but keep on coming at them like characters from a living dead movie. And at first, when the rookies are quickly overwhelmed, I did get a little downhearted as it seemed as if there really wasn’t anyplace for the story to go. But then the rookies, or what’s left of them, start fighting back, coming up with some very clever means of self defense (including a unique use of a refrigerator and a gas tank). Once that happened, I sighed in relief knowing that now all bets were off and I was in for one wild ride. There’s also a backstory story, one that dates to at least 1934’s Manhattan Melodrama, that old warhorse where two people who were close as children end up on opposite sides of the law. Add more than a dash of police corruption, as well as a cup of existentialism (the characters do what they do not because it is necessarily the logical or smartest thing to do—like call in reinforcements—but because it is who they are) and this is what results. Our hero Rama is one of the rookies, the David who ends up pitted against Goliath. He’s played by Iko Uwais, a martial arts expert who that Welsh director/writer/editor Gareth Evans discovered while making a documentary. Evans has no trouble stacking the deck: Rama is a devout Muslim with a pregnant wife; just try not to have sympathy for him. And when he fights, it’s exhausting just watching him (at one point, he’s dispensing thug after thug after thug after thug after thug after…well, you get my drift, in a hallway—I turned to my friend and said, “Now he’s just showing off”). The physical high point of the movie has to be a duel between Rama and an unlikely ally against Mad Dog, a sociopathic juggernaut who doesn’t like to shoot people because it doesn’t give him the rush that beating them up does (rarely have two people been so outnumbered). Mad Dog may be insane, but when he is finally defeated, one actually feels for him; a great fighter has been brought to his knees, never to be seen again. In the end, The Raid: Redemption is one of those movies that doesn’t really do anything, but does it brilliantly. Does it have a point? I don’t know. I don’t care. All I know is that it is a must see.

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