As a rookie member of an elite special-forces team, Rama (Iko Uwais) is instructed to hang back during a covert mission involving the extraction of a brutal crime lord from a rundown fifteen-story apartment block. But when a spotter blows their cover, boss Tama (Ray Sahetaphy) offers lifelong sanctuary to every killer, gangster and thief in the building in exchange for their heads. Now Rama must stand in for the team's fallen leader Jaka (Joe Taslim) and use every bit of his fighting strength - winding through every floor and room to complete the mission and escape with his life.
A special forces team has been sent on a mission to take down a drug lord in The Raid: Redemption. Armed to the fullest extent this band of mostly rookie recruits embark on their mission, entering a 15-story rundown building in the slums that is teeming with low-lifes, drug addicts, and criminals. Their covert operation appears to be going smoothly until a young boy sees them, and the bullet shot at his head does not silence his cry fast enough, "Police!" he screams. All hell is about to break loose inside of this building, and getting to the top floor where the boss is located will entail a deadly assault.
The Raid: Redemption is a martial arts action film, and one of the greatest produced in the past two decades. It is a non-stop assault on the senses, with choreographed fight scenes and combat that causes your eyes to inhibit blinking for fear you may miss an amazing move by a character, or swift cut to see more carnage and destruction. Following the main character Rama (Iko Uwais) throughout the building it becomes in itself a character. The many hallways, doors, stairwells, and elevators are unique. What element is behind them, be it an attacker or a friendly ally, is part of the thrill and suspense of watching The Raid: Redemption. Cinematographer Matt Flannery creates a space in the building that is always mysterious with his hand-held techniques and often canted angles. Every element, from sound, choreography, production design, and score liven up The Raid: Redemption, creating a movie viewers are immediately thrown into without any desire, or hope, of being released until the credits roll. The film may play a little too long for some, because watching men get beaten and shot and knifed and bullied for long stretches can wear on the psyche; for those who embrace the carnage, the down-and-dirty approach of Director/Editor/Screenwriter Gareth Huw Evans work will undoubtedly sing the praises of The Raid: Redemption after seeing it, and for years to come--or until the sequel is released.
The sounds of men beating each other, hand to body, is unmistakable in The Raid: Redemption, but that is not the stand-out use of sound in the film. The ambient noises strike you from the very beginning. The rain on the roof of the special forces van, guns being loaded and clicked into action, fists hitting a punching bag, or the sound of boots hitting the pavement, one pair of feet after another. The use of real noise, that is not drowned out by a non-diegetic music score or dialogue, lends a more realistic quality to the film; an almost documentary approach. The simple action of a spoon hitting the side of a bowl has its sound amplified, amongst the otherwise silent scene. Every sound prior to the beginning of the onslaught of action, where a compilation of score, ambient noise, and foley will be used extensively, is magnified for the viewer. The result is a heightening of the senses and your senses go on alert, ready to take on what will come next in the film. This simple device of limiting the amount of stimulation in order to make the viewer prepared for the excess that will come later is a genius choice by the filmmakers. You are alert, and your available senses are ready to take-in all that will be shown to you, heard by you, and felt to the fullest degree.
"I'm the guy that makes stunt performers take multiple kicks to the head for the pleasure of what I hope is a captivated audience. I deal in blood and mayhem." - Director Gareth Huw Evans
Combining the martial arts of Judo and Silat, among others, The Raid: Redemption is an action genre fans ultimate treat. Trapped inside of a 15-story building the characters have no where to go but up, down, and around the building, but they cannot get out. Every inhabitant has been promised a lifetime of free safe haven, if they participate in annihilating the special forces unit--and this means fighting, plenty and plenty of combat. There is the use of guns, knives, explosions, and many other types of weaponry. But the greatness in The Raid: Redemption's action stems from the hand-to-hand martial arts fighting, choreographed with precision and perfection by Iko Uwais, Yayan Ruhian, and Gareth Huw Evans. The lengthy sequences of man-on-man fighting cause the viewer to go into a trance, never wanting to or being to take their eyes off of the screen, or blink for that matter. The fighting is intense, to say the least, and exhilarating to experience.
Strengthening the film even more so is that there is not just one or two strong action sequences. The entire film is built around the action, and the plot comes secondary. Every floor of the building, hallway, room, and stairwell is a stage set for the action sequences to play out. They are not transparently glamorized, but heavily stylized in their goriness. Blood is splattered about like water, and seeing a man's head staked on pieces of a broken door jam commonplace. Men's bodies are beaten to the point of death, and yet they still get up and keep on fighting. The Raid: Redemption is a martial arts picture, and one that surpasses all others with the non-stop action and severe brutality of fighting it shows on screen. Translation, any die-hard action fans dream come true.
March 23, 2012