Sunday, April 15, 2012

Film Review: The Raid: Redemption

Falling somewhere between Assault on Precinct 13 and Park Chan-wook's Oldboy, this relentlessly brutal Indonesian martial arts action-thriller may not be the kind of movie that the typical middle class multiplex goer would frequent (not without complaint at least) but for those fans of the genre, and I would count myself as part of that list (at least part in part), it is most certainly a more than rousing, shoot-em-up, kick-em-up, machete-their-fucking-body-parts-off extravaganza of blood, guts and head-thumping roundabouts.  In other, more basic words, this film kicks serious ass from start to finish.   Hows that for some fanboy rhetoric?

Shot digitally (with a Panasonic AG AF100 camera, and processed via XDCAM, if one wishes the particulars) and using harsh, unforgiving lighting (set mainly in the fluorescent-baked confines of a tenement building), and close-quartered fight sequences (again, the hallways and meth labs of  the gangster's tower of terror), Welsh-born, Indonesian-based director Gareth Evans gives his film a hungry, claustrophobic feel that puts its viewers seemingly inside the so-called ring of constant, berating collisions of fists and feet and knives and guns and chairs and broken shards of glass and machetes and whatever else is decided to be thrown at the opponents, and therefore we, the aforementioned viewers.   It is this sense of relentless physical barrage, from a necessarily visually limiting perspective (some would say ugly, but in reality it is a purposeful ugliness), that gives the film its inherent gritty look.  You will not be getting the grandeur of a classic Shaw Brothers film, nor the audacity of a Miike or even a Tarantino.  I personally lean to the more audacious and less realistic side of the genre, but that's just me.  What you will get with Evans' film is a bare bones, full throttle, bone-crushing feast of down and dirty martial arts action.  Pure and simple.

What you do get, what we get, is a film that highlights the super fast tradition of Pencak Silat, the native martial arts of Indonesia.  Director Gareth Evans, though a native of Wales, does his directorial business in this exotic South Pacific land and has been an avid proponent of this traditional form of fighting for several years, and it has shown in his work.  Here, working with fight choreographers and masters of the form, Iko Uwais and Yayan Ruhian, playing the role of not just choreographers but also protagonist and antagonist respectively.  Battling their way through a thirty story building ruled with that proverbial iron fist by a maniacal crime lord, twenty elite cops, mostly rookies highlighted by Kuwais' Rama, who of course more than holds his own in this world of death, destruction and obvious betrayal, fight an array of criminals and henchmen until the final inevitable three-way showdown between these forces of abhorrent nature.  Perhaps this is not one of the great epic works of martial arts cinema we have seen elsewhere - for better or for worse - but it is a giddily fun romp of broken bones, severed heads and batshitcrazy action sequences that will, for those so inclined toward the genre, verily blow you away.


Dave Enkosky said...

Great review. I loved this movie. I didn't realize the film was specifically highlighting an Indonesian style of Martial arts. Really cool.

Kevyn Knox said...

It is a blast to watch.

Hosting Blitz said...

There are more than 200 martial arts styles tadisional in Indonesia, some of them can not be in the championship, because the very lethal. silat focus on speed and lethal locks down and dance. in this film only uses two styles of silat.

dini said...

Yes ... things that make me disappointed with bad critics mainly because they thought this movie delivers only relentless violence of action-packed

The cinematography and choreography mix is something this movie wants to deliver. The director Gareth Evans had done several documentary films about Pencak Silat which after he saw Iko, he decided to make a movie of Pencak Silat ...

Iko (the main character) has learnt Pencak Silat since he was 10, and Yayan (Mad Dog) is a teacher (master) of Pencak Silat ... which both of them then designed every single movement in this movie.

I'm just sad because Evans and his team had put much effort on doing this movie with a very minimum budget ... It seems unfair for just saying this movie is relentless and joyless to watch only because it doesn't fit their taste.

But then again ... people have their own opinion, so I'll take the critics as good outputs.