It baffles me that a subtitle "Redemption" must be added to the name of
the movie, which is already perfect as it is - "The Raid". Adding the
subtitle to the movie merely adds nothing more but confusion, as the
audience will be looking for a character looking for that trait. Roger
Ebert in his review gave the movie 1 out of 4 stars and expressed his
bewilderment over this issue. As if the subtitle will make the movie
sound cooler than it already is.
No matter. "The Raid" is quite essentially one of the most brutal and violent, and most relentless since John Woo's "Hard-Boiled", action thriller ever made. Think the 30-minute shootout in "Hard-Boiled" and fight sequences in "Ong-Bak" and "Tom-Yum Goong" combined and stretched into 90 minutes and you get "The Raid". It is a gung-ho exercise in style and choreography. To criticize the plot is in futility. It's killed or be killed. Simple but effective, like it's lead character Rama, the film aims straight for the jugular.
Responsible for this rush are rapidly-rising Indonesian martial-arts star Iko Uwais and Welsh director Gareth Evans, the same team who brought us the impressive "Merantau" years ago. Like "Merantau", "The Raid" is chock-laden of adrenaline pumping action sequences and elaborately-choreographed Silat-infused fight sequences. Unlike the former, however, "The Raid" unleashes Silat at its brutal bone-breaking, head-busting, neck-snapping, gut-slashing, knife-stabbing, kneecap- crushing best. Uwais clearly establishes himself as a now-dominant force in the martial-arts movie industry, and can proudly rank himself up there with fellow modern martial-arts pain mongers Donnie Yen and Tony Jaa (whom he resembles apparently). He also manages to give out some acting chops, unlike most martial-arts stars today. Evans is also on the same path in terms of action-filmmaking, his frenetic and kinetic direction really rivets the film into a visceral viewing experience.
Thanks to some gritty cinematography and production design, "The Raid" immerses the audience into the situation at hand, although (sadly I have watched the American release) the music score does not somehow do the job in some scenes. The ending, I feel, is a bit of a cop-out. Too often modern action movies end this way, and I really hoped it would be like how the 80's-90's action films ended - with a bang instead of a puff.
Does the film glorify violence? There is certainly non-stop brutal and sadistic bloody violence that it could be called a game-changer for action films. I would have to say that - yes, the film does indeed glorify violence, but in that 80s-90s way in which the clearly- established-as-evil bad guys are mowed down relentlessly by the good guys as the audience cheers in support of the heroes. The same thing happened here. The audience I went with was small, but they were all whooping whenever a goon gets dispatched with style.
"The Raid" could be a hit, if the marketing would improve. Is it one of the best action movies ever made - a game changer? Not really. But it is definitely one of the most brutal and relentless of recent times. Let's hope Hollywood doesn't come-a-calling so soon...
Overall rating: 69/100
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