The Raid: Redemption
AKA: Serbuan Maut
Year of release: 2011
Director: Gareth Evans
Action director: Yayan Ruhian, Iko Uwais
Producer: Ario Sagantoro
Writer: Gareth Evans
Cinematography: Matt Flannery
Editing: Gareth Evans
Music: Joseph Trapanese, Mike Shinoda
Stars: Iko Uwais, Joe Taslim, Doni Alamsyah, Yayan Ruhian, Pierre Gruno
Rated R for language and violence
Movie Review Index
2009's Merentau was a great martial arts movie which showed a lot of promise from the film's young star and director, Iko Uwais and Gareth Evans. Their 2011 followup, The Raid: Redemption, currently in a limited US theatrical release, not only meets the expectations that Merantau set up, it exceeds them in spades, making this one of the best martial arts/action movies released from anywhere in the world over the past few years.
Eschewing many of the tropes laid out by recent action pictures where layers and twists are heaped upon the story for the sole sake of making its' director look like they really earned that nifty shiny film school degree, The Raid: Redemption's setup is elegant in its' simplicity. Iko Uwais plays Rama, a member of a SWAT team sent into a tenement controlled by the crime boss, Tama (Ray Sahetapy). Playing out in real time, for approximately the next ninety minutes, we follow Rama as he battles Tama and his minions.
And that's about it. There is really no development of Rama or any of the other characters, or really any sense at all of what most people would consider deep story telling. But, in an instance like this, that's perfectly fine. This is lean and mean film-making at its' finest. As with Merantau, The Raid: Redemption recalls the "golden age" of Hong Kong movies, where actors and directors were willing to do anything and everything in order to provide excitement to the audience -- it's just that this time out, Gareth Evans and Iko Uwais (who also served as an action/stunt director) have a bigger budget to work with, and those results are clearly shown on the screen.
From beginning to end, The Raid: Redemption rarely lets up, only slowing down at a few points in order to let the audience catch their breath. By the time the final confrontations begins, the adrenaline level has been taken up to eleven. The finale is outstanding action cinema in every sense, with results that can proudly stand up next to bonafide classics such as Drunken Master 2 and Once Upon a Time in China 2 as films that feature some of the best scenes featuring hard-hitting displays of cinematic fisticuffs. If you consider yourself an action/martial arts fan at all, you need to seek out and watch The Raid: Redemption, and the sooner, the better.