Written and directed by Gareth Huw Evans. Cast: Iko Uwais, Joe Taslim, Donny Alamsyah, Ray Sahetapy, Pierre Gruno, Yayan Ruhian. (R, 100 mins)
A young Indonesian Muslim wakes, prays, does morning exercises, and gets ready to go to work. He kisses his very pregnant wife and tells her to rest. He's a police officer, and though he doesn't know it yet, he's embarking on the worst day of his life.
That serene opening sequence is the calmest moment in the explosive, balls-to-the-wall action epic THE RAID: REDEMPTION. Directed by Indonesia-based Welshman Gareth Evans, who made his mark with 2009's cult item MERANTAU, THE RAID: REDEMPTION (the "Redemption" was added by US distributor Sony after THE RAID was already claimed) quickly sets up a story and then it's insanity unleashed. The Muslim cop is Rama (Iko Uwais, one of several MERANTAU stars who also appear here), who's a member of an elite SWAT team dispatched by Lt. Wahyu (Pierre Gruno, who looks like an Indonesian Malcolm McDowell) to raid the 30-story apartment building/stronghold of powerful crime lord Tama (Ray Sahetapy). The cops have long given Tama unspoken clearance to run his operation, which involves a narcotics lab and providing sanctuary for the city's most wanted criminals, in addition to standard slum housing on the lower floors. Rama is a dutiful officer, but questions why now and why today do the cops finally decide to arrest Tama. They quickly secure the lower floors, but a child sees them and pulls the alarm, notifiying Tama, whose bunker is on the 15th floor, that the cops are in the building. Tama dispatches his goons and those from neighboring buildings to get to work. And so begins a day-long, multi-floor battle between cops and criminals, with guns, knives, machetes, hammers, and, when all else fails, fists and feet and whatever else is available, even a propane tank and a refrigerator to make an impromptu bomb.
|Iko Uwais as Rama|
|Drug lord Tama (Ray Sahetapy) confronted by Lt. Wahyu |
(Pierre Gruno as Indonesian Malcolm McDowell)
THE RAID: REDEMPTION is not just a martial-arts movie (it's also an instant classic in the "high-rise mayhem" subgenre), but it's the best martial-arts movie I've seen in quite some time. Maybe not "DECADES!!!" but probably since the CROUCHING TIGER, HIDDEN DRAGON-inspired wuxia craze of the early 2000s. If you're a fan of this stuff, it's a virtual impossibility to be disappointed by this.
|Original Indonesian poster before Sony |
tacked on the REDEMPTION part of the title