Reviewed by

Christopher Armstead

Whoa.  I had heard some rumblings that this little import from Indonesia ‘The Raid: Redemption’ was badass, but this was nuts.  This was crazy.  ‘The Raid: Redemption’ is pure, unadulterated, action insanity.  Does that mean that this was a good movie?  I’ll let you know right after I find my left eyeball which popped out my head about halfway through.

Young Iko Uwais is Lt. Rama.  From the opening scenes we can tell he’s a Muslim since he’s using a prayer rug that no doubt is facing the qiblah, we can see that he’s fit as he performs a series of workouts after his morning prayers, and we meet his wife who is very pregnant with their first child.  Before he goes off to work he talks to some old dude and promises ‘I’ll bring him home’.  Character development is now pretty much OVER.

Switch to a police SWAT vehicle were some highly trained, heavily armed, armored down officers of the law are being sternly lectured to by their hardcore leader Sgt. Jaka (Joe Taslim) about the mission at hand.  Brutal, evil, crazed gangster Tama (Ray Sahetapy) has been ruling his criminal empire out of this dilapidated skyrise apartment for years and it’s time for it to come to an end.  Worst still is that Tama has rented out the majority of the rooms in this building to every thug, lowlife, drug dealer, and wanted murderer in the country so they can lay low and operate under the radar.  Tama has a left hand and right hand man that will also prove problematic in the completely uncontrollable Mad Dog (Yayan Ruhian) who is way crazier than his name would indicate, and then there’s the cooler Andi (Donnie Alamsyah) who is more of a negotiator, but he too will put a bullet in your head if necessary.  Completely briefed by Sgt. Jaka, now our eighteen or so law officers are primed and prepped for some action.  Some are scared and some are ready to rock.  Impatiently waiting for them is the high ranking law official Captain Wahyu (Pierre Gruno) who really needs this thing to go off correctly, so he’s none too happy to when he sees the fresh faced and inexperienced Lt. Rama along on this ride, convinced he’s going to eff everything up.  But we know this is not going to happen, don’t we?

So our cops enter the building, bust in the rooms and secure whomever is in there, but alas one of the lookouts was able to cast a warning.  Wahyu’s response to this kid lookout was the first indication that something might not be completely kosher with the Captain.  Now… it is on.  Actually it would’ve been on sooner because Tama has his building under complete surveillance so he could’ve taken them out at any time, but he seemed to be waiting for them.   It gets ugly real fast for these poor cops, snipers handling anyone who’s outside or has the misfortune of walking past a window, and murderers on the inside more than willing to kill cops for the promise of free rent.  Apparently Indonesian criminals really like free rent. But then who doesn't, right?

A little backup would be nice, but apparently no one is coming any time soon to help these guys out.  It’s looking grim right now.  Truth be told the only thing the cops really have going for them is the whirlwind of mayhem that is Lt. Rama who will single handedly chop, kick, slice, shoot, knee and stab wave after wave of knife carrying, gun toting thugs.  But remember that guy that he told the old dude he was going to bring home?  He’s there.  And we don’t really want to spoil it for you because it’s one of the few story elements this movie has to offer.  Death, destruction, mayhem, chaos and arguably the most violent movie ever made shall ensue. 

Let’s play devil’s advocate and forget for a minute that director Gareth Evan’s film ‘The Raid: Redemption’ is absolutely, universally awesome.  As we said before… character development… there really is none.  Thus when characters good or bad die, and they will die, there’s almost no emotional impact.  The plotting is pretty basic, or whatever the word would be for three steps below basic.  Good guys must make it through incalculable odds to stop bad guy, even though there’s a mole in the mix.  And this bad guy isn’t doing anything in particular that needs to be stopped.  He hasn’t planted a bomb anywhere, he hasn’t kidnapped anybody like the pregnant wife, he hasn’t poisoned the drinking water or hijacked a bus load of school kids… he’s just mean.  There is some family melodrama squeezed in that even the most badass of Asian action movies, no matter what country they happen to be from, seems unable to avoid. 

So from a cinematic narrative standpoint it would seem that ‘The Raid: Redemption’ is lacking.  The thing is a rollercoaster ride is lacking a decent cinematic narrative as well, but they are still a lot of fun.  This what you are going to get with ‘The Raid: Redemption’, a 100 minute rollercoaster ride of destruction, death, fist fights, machete fights, blood splatter and eye wincing violence.  One scene made me wince so hard that my eyeball popped out and I still haven’t found it.  And while the movie may be low on ‘character development’ and stuff, the dialog Evans wrote that was wedged between the violence was actually pretty good, technically speaking the movie is flawless and the performances are about as good as you will see in a movie like this, particularly Joe Taslim as our hardcore Sarge. 

Recently I saw the film ‘Piranha 3DD’, a movie I thought was completely successful in what the filmmakers were going for, I just didn’t care for what they were going for.  The same can be said for ‘The Raid: Redemption’.  I believe the team behind this film achieved exactly what they going for, the difference being for me that I absolutely loved what they were going for.  Don’t know if I could sit through it again, as awesome as it was, just like I’ve avoid jumping on the same rollercoaster ride more than once since the thrill is lessened considerably with each ride, but for that first ride… ‘The Raid: Redemption’ is one helluva ride.

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