Fantastic. I had so much fun with “The Raid: Redemption” and I couldn’t put it down for the entire time I spent with it. It lets you get right into it, just punching people, pulling off combos, breaking skulls and taking names. The best part? It just lets you fight fight fight! No boring dialogue for us! Why would we want that to break up our experience? Oh, and the final boss, oh my God. “The Raid” is the best video game I have ever played in my entire life.
But, this isn’t a video game — this is a movie. An awful, awful movie.
Describing aspects of the plot is surprisingly tough for me to do. Firstly because there is extremely little of it to speak of, and secondly because what there is is almost impossible to decipher. Here are the basics (which just so happen to be most of the plot). Rama (Iko Uwais) leaves to head an assault on a crime lords apartment complex with Lieutenant Wayhu (Pierre Gruno) and Bowo (Tegar Satrya). Tama (Ray Sahetapy) is the crime lord in question and he sends unholy amounts of throwaway men to attack the police squad. Of course it is eventually only a few of the main characters left and they are left to fight to the top of the building and take out Tama, although there is some suspicion of a greater scheme afoot.
Most of the film I had absolutely no idea who was fighting who because I had no idea who any of the characters were! Initially we get maybe 2 or 3 minutes to see Rama on his own to supposedly identify him later. After this segment where he is given no personality traits to speak of which therefore makes him — at this point — instantly forgettable, the scene changes to 20 SWAT members in the back of a van. They are all wearing exactly the same thing except for Wayhu, who is recognisable only because he is the only one with white hair anyway. It’s like keeping your eyes on 20 fast moving cups and trying to remember which one the coin is under, it is infuriatingly difficult and in the end an exercise in futility.
Initially I admired the films purity. Rushing straight into the apartment building which honestly reminded me of a quiet hive filled with sleeping bees was indeed cool and reeked potential. The first half hour or so is filled with actually quite brilliant cinematography. A scene where a little boy wonders out into a corridor with an entire SWAT team looking down their barrels at him is genuinely tense and what ensues directly after looks spectacular. Also when Tama is killing hostages and beats one with a hammer which is turned into a swift transition is brilliant. Gareth Evans obviously understands how to do brilliant, and I do mean brilliant action sequences. He knows when to zoom in, when to pull out a bit and let us see a bit more. He doesn’t shake the camera like a meth addict and he uses multiple cuts that miraculously do not break the flow of combat. It is kinetic, it is frantic and it is always well done. Gareth decides to beat the dead horse however and despite how good the combat was, I was too disinterested to care by the halfway point.
There is a sub plot in here about Rama and his brother Andi (Donny Alamsyah) who happens to be working for Tama in the apartment complex but that’s all I have to tell you about it. I can’t stress how bare-bones the plot is and the fight to the top of the apartment block reminds me of “Donkey Kong” mixed with “Mortal Kombat”. This is a movie! Why do I have to reference games to explain it! There is one scene where the two brothers fight one of Tama’s henchmen, Mad Dog (Yayan Ruhian), and the way all three of them assemble and get ready to fight along with the way the music begins to play is literally only missing the booming “FIGHT!” to initiate the stand off.
A muted colour scheme serves to reflect the overall dull story which is a shame because Gareth showed so much potential early on and I got genuinely excited. I think part of the reason, and I don’t apologise at all for this, that I couldn’t keep up with the plot that well is because I got just so bored that I couldn’t feign interest. I don’t even mind admitting that I spent some segments battling to keep concentration later on, and I don’t understand how people are able to deny that the film is almost like a firework being played in reverse. It begins with a bang, the rest is a small fizz as the wick burns away, and then it is finally snuffed out.
People who love martial arts are almost certainly going to be in awe for a mega tonne of this movie, and that is fair enough. Someone like that will go into the film knowing what they are going to get and they will come out satisfied, and good for them! The opinions of people that love these fight scenes to death aren’t any less valid than my own. Just be aware that anyone who needs a tad more than punching with their films will be sorely disappointed.