The glory of violent cinema

Posted on September 07, 2012

Movie Review
The Raid: Redemption
Directed by Gareth Evans

THE RAID: REDEMPTION, the action thriller by Welsh-born, Indonesia-based filmmaker Gareth Evans, reminds me of acclaimed filmmaker Chan-wook Park’s Korean opus Oldboy. Its daring take on violent and claustrophobic fight scenes traps its audience in a world of riveting brutality. It brings back the glory of violent cinema without resorting to cheap tricks and detrimental cheats.

Iko Uwais (L) as Rama and Acip Sumardi as Mad Dog in a fight scence from The Raid: Redemption

The story revolves around an elite team of policemen whose mission is to bring down a building in a Jakarta slum that serves as a massive sanctuary for a ruthless drug lord and his gang who clearly have the upper hand.

The cops attempt to secure the lower floors before the mobsters discover the operation. In no time, wave after wave of cold-blooded killers start taking them down by any means necessary. The heavily armed officers are forced to fight their way through the many levels of brutality, dealing with the mental and physical toll of a seemingly never-ending series of mayhem.

This action-packed offering knows what it wants to do -- delivering a full dose of adrenaline with an almost non-stop series of brawls. Its audio-visual flair, stylized fight choreography and lightning-quick pace provide enough energy to make the viewers willing to sit through it, no matter how ferocious things get.

From its lifeless colors to its minimalist art direction, the drab look infuses an uncomfortable mood which fits the story’s closed-in urban environment. Interestingly, the visual imperfections of the material are quite easy to let pass, primarily because they match the film’s rough and gritty treatment.

The film’s Asian flavor makes it an interesting diversion from the usual diet of Hollywood movies. It targets viewers who want to see incessant violence from start to end. Admirably, Evans delivers without crossing the line into bad taste. He sticks to his guns in crafting an insane level of savagery using its own distinct personality.

The sequences are slick but never dumbed down, precisely because there is nothing much to dumb down. Except for a few necessary breaks in action and a handful of compulsory character scenes, there is an absence of crucial dramatic and character development in the story. The narrative offers just enough details to give it some sense of purpose, other than spilling blood. Its bland elements and routine plot points are simply coated by an orgy of violence -- and it actually works.It is a must-watch action-only piece that brings to the audience one of this year’s most brutal experiences on the big screen.

The MTRCB rates this film R-16.