I’m starting Asian Crime Action Month off with an Indonesian film known as The Raid: Redemption. The film was made in 2011 by Gareth Evans. It is one of the most balls to the wall action films ever created.
Rama (iko Uwais) is a rookie in the S.W.A.T team joining a police raid on the drug lord, Tama’s (Ray Sahetapy) building/ fortress. To take down Tama, the team has to go floor by floor, fighting against snipers, very violent tenants, a machete gang, and a guy who gets really angry if you stab a florescent light into his neck. The plot of this film is setup for a giant action sequence, which takes place throughout one day, and is primarily comprised of very tense, violent, and entertaining fight scenes.
The Raid has simple yet memorable characters. Rama is the basic righteous/ murderous hero who shoots, beats, and slices his way through a bunch of people. He has established relationships with other characters that are clearly shown, which makes the viewer care more about these characters. Jaka (Joe Taslim) is the badass, mustached mentor. He is a strong leader and all around cool person (I ended up really rooting for him). Mad Dog is one tiny menacing little mofo who likes to beat people to death because he thinks: “Pulling a trigger is like ordering a takeout.” My favorite character is Tama, the crime boss. He is the epitome of a sleazy, cunning and cruel crime lord. He is first introduced strutting around in an undershirt and boxers, blowing four guy’s brains out and then beating a fifth guy to death with a hammer. That is how to introduce a good villain. Tama is a mean dude with a calm face, who steals every scene he is in.
The real star of this film is the action. So many different weapons and tactics are used; so much blood is shed; it’s glorious. There are gunfights, knife fights, a fight against a gang of machete wielders, and of course hand to hand combat. The film showcases the Indonesian fighting style of Pencak Silat. The fights are quick and brutal. There is no breathing time; it’s just hit after hit after hit. You can feel these hits; they look legitimate. There’s a great fight in a hallway involving a tonfa + knife combo used on multiple people. There is a great fight between Rama and the machete crew, lead by one of the meanest looking mofos I have ever seen. There is a brutal one on one fight between Jaka and Mad Dog. So many amazing fight sequences that will have you at the edge of your seat exclamating sounds of both pleasure and agony.
The impressive action sequences have a lot to do with wonderful camera work. The shots are handheld and always in motion. The camera follows the action and moves with it, complimenting the fighter’s movements, unlike many shaky cam fight sequences that are barely visible. The narrow walls, dark secluded stairways, and debased apartment rooms are great stages for intense action that allows for a lot of violence directed towards surroundings. A wall can be counted as a weapon in this film, considering how many people are smashed into one. Another great example of setting is Rama dropping an adversary’s head directly on a broken door, causing three pieces of smashed wood to impale some poor bastard’s jaw.
There is much more I could say about this film, but I’m gonna have to list it out quickly: The film has a small budget, yet it did so much with it. The building used is so stained, and run down that it looks like a sleazy fortress, especially with all the areas that have some random steel plating on them. The blood effects are well done and really add to the gritty brutality. The score by Mike Shinoda and Joseph Trapanese is a great electronic score that keeps the excitement and intensity in full gear through the entire film. Watch this film, it will kick your ass and serve it to you on a plate of awesome.
Favorite Scene: The meth lab fight is my personal favorite. I like seeing Rama’s fighting style in comparison to the corrupt cop, and the other rookie. I like how the meth supplies are used in causing many random extras lots of pain, and how there are some hits that look so real and hard hitting that I don’t believe they were staged.
Watch this trailer to get that first sweet taste of adrenaline, before you watch the film and overdose:
Written by Tyler Ducheneaux
Images From The Raid: Redemption