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The Raid: Redemption (2011)

The Raid

A SWAT team becomes trapped in a tenement run by a ruthless mobster and his army of killers and thugs.

The Raid: Redemption (Indonesian name: Serbuan maut) is a 2011 Indonesian action film written and directed by a Welshman named Gareth Evans. Strange combination to start with, but don’t let the ‘foreign film’ tag or subtitles put you off. If your too lazy to read subtitles you can just concentrate on the incredible action on display. More on that in a minute.

The basic plot for The Raid goes a little something like this. Deep in the heart of Jakarta’s slums lies an impenetrable derelict apartment building which became a safe house for the city’s most dangerous murderers, killers and gangsters. The rundown apartment block has been considered untouchable by rivals of the notorious crime lord Tama Riyadi and even the police. It all changes when an elite team is tasked with raiding the building in order to take down Tama once and for all.

The Raid

Tama – not a nice man!

Cloaked under the cover of pre-dawn darkness and silence, we mainly follow the journey of expectant father and rookie cop Rama, who is part of a 20-man SWAT team, led by Sergeant Jaka, and they arrive at the apartment block under the guidance of Lieutenant Wahyu. Their aim is to work through the building floor by floor until they can reach and arrest Tama. However, as we all know in films nothing ever goes to plan. Everyone living here knows they must attempt to stop the SWAT team for their own benefits, as they need somewhere to live and they have to keep Tama happy. In our introduction to Tama he shows us he doesn’t mess around in taking people’s lives. We do meet one kind resident who isn’t out to kill anyone, and the scene involving his hidden room and wiping away the blood was one of my favourites, just a simple scene but wiping the blood from the sword would normally be something so trivial it wouldn’t get done, and I liked this little touch forthe raid some reason.

The plot really plays second fiddle here though. The Raid is all about on thing; action!! Or to be more specific, the traditional Indonesian martial art pencak silat. Being a pretty good martial artist myself, I was blown away by the skills shown off here and I can honestly say I have never seen anything like this fighting style before. The fighting choreography is flawless, some of the best you will ever see, and we witness everything from hand to hand combat, knife fights and of course some guns and explosions thrown in for good measure. The Raid is a violent film, showing us punches, kicks, snapped necks, broken bones, crushed skulls, dismembered body parts, exploding heads and plenty more. No slow build up here either, the shit hits the fan from the very beginning and it doesn’t let up until the credits roll. Relentless would be one word for it!

Jaka vs Mad Dog – Face Off!!

Visually the apartment is shown as an ugly, intimidating building and we see it in cold and wet shades of blue and grey with dingy shanty-town like interiors. The camera flits effortlessly through the corridors ensuring that we don’t miss a single second of action. Some really impressive camera work I thought, and just a multitude of different shots and angles once again makes sure we don’t get time to feel bored and constantly shows us something new and different.

Rama – the rookie

The acting is fine, but these guys aren’t really trying to compete with someone like De Niro in the acting stakes here. They were hired for their fighting ability, and no one lets the film down on this front. The main character Rama, the rookie, has some incredible fighting skills and becomes a one man army fuelled with finding something or someone in this building. Yayan Ruhian as the crime lord’s sidekick Mad Dog threatens to steal the show here though. Not terribly intimidating to look at, but his first fight shows that he is not someone to be messed with.

mad dog

Mad Dog kicking ass!

There are some negatives I felt. The script was pretty simple, there was no real character depth and plenty of ambiguity to it, especially the ending, but this is the first part of a planned trilogy so that is to be expected I guess, got to leave some back story and things to go into in future films. Also, despite being masters of being able to hurt people, at times some of the guys took such a beating and yet got up with barely a scratch on them. One scene for example between Mad Dog and ‘2 other guys’, we saw heads slammed repeatedly into a concrete floor and yet people just got up with no real blood on show. For a violent film I was surprised and felt it was a bit unrealistic, but I’m just nitpicking and didn’t detract from the fun I had whilst watching the film.

Overall, The Raid is a stunning showcase for action and martial arts fans, whether you’re watching for the pure visual spectacle, athletic prowess, invention or anything else. Leave your brain at the door and just enjoy the 101 minute run time (which flew by!). With a score composed by Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park fame and Joseph Trapanese, the final product is an adrenaline fuelled ride unlike anything I have ever seen.

the raid

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35 Comments

  1. Nice one my friend. This has been on my radar for a while a now. I really must get my arse in gear on it. I’m not big on action movies but I like the look of this.

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    • Cheers Mark. It’s a refreshing change in the action genre, simple enough premise but the fighting scenes are something to be admired! Not seen anything like it really.

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  2. theipc

     /  August 17, 2012

    8 out of 10? That’s high praise! I might have to check this out… good one, amigo.

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    • Thanks buddy. I deliberated between 7 and 8, but since I don’t do half scores I felt generous and rounded it up. Really enjoyed it, so for that factor alone it deserved it. Plus the martial arts fan that I am swung it 🙂

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  3. You gave it a fine score, so this isn’t a criticism or anything, nicely done.

    But I would disagree about the simple plot being a detriment, or a weak point. I thought that that was great… they set up exactly the bare amount of plot they needed to invest the audience and then let the action take over!

    Great flick, glad you brought it up!

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    • I just felt there was some more to give regarding the characters, and it just felt like aside from a couple of people there was nothing to attach to or invest in. It was only really a minor issue though, as I mentioned I struggled to find anything to criticise it on.

      Funnily enough, whenever I finish a review and post it up, I then go look at some of the big movie sites to see what scores they give out to see if my thoughts are anything similar. Turns out everyone’s favourite critic Roger Ebert scored this pretty poorly with just 1 star! Whilst I obviously hugely disagree with him, the only thing we agreed on was ‘No one in the film has a personality’. That’s kind of how I felt, aside from one or two. But then that wasn’t what The Raid was about, it was a brief set up like you say to get us ready for the action. And man how great was the action?!

      Anyway, really appreciate your comments Fogs, thanks for stopping by 🙂

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  4. Got this as a rental. Currently sitting on my table. Can’t wait to turn my brain off.

    I was wondering if you’ve seen “Chocolate.” And if you have, is it somewhere along that line of non-stop action?

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    • I haven’t seen that, but after a quick google search it sounds similar, just a different type of martial art I guess. Honestly, the style of fighting in Raid is unlike anything I’ve ever seen before, it is literally relentless. If you do see it let me know if it is similar to Chocolate, that might have to be rented if so! 🙂

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    • It’s way more balls to the wall than Chocolate, Ong Bak, or anything, really.

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  5. sanclementejedi

     /  August 17, 2012

    My brother and I walked out the theater hoping that someone would try and jump us in the parking lot so we could beat the living hell out of them Mad Dog style! This was the best balls to the wall action film I have seen in a loooooong time. I loved it!

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    • Haha that’s brilliant!! I’m guessing no one jumped you? That Mad Dog was an animal. Loved it when he put away his gun for his hand to hand duel! Can’t wait to see how they try top this for the sequel (or the US remake which was inevitable sadly).

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  6. atothewr

     /  August 17, 2012

    Nice review. This sounds like a solid action flick. I might have to check it out.

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  7. After hearing so much about this flick, you’ve confirmed pretty everything. I have to see this one asap. Great review!

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  8. Yea, I saw this in the theater, and it blew my mind. I don’t think I’ve seen anything else like it before. I wish I wasn’t broke so I could get the damn blu-ray. Soon………soon.

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  9. Also, check out Merantau. It’s from the same team of actors and director. It’s much more of a standard action movie, but it’s done very well.

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    • Yeah Ive been trying to track down a copy of that after I saw it on the directors IMDB list. We actually have the dvd on sale here of his British violent thug style film he did before he went to Indonesia. Might try watch it (the name escapes me!) but a strange detour from that to Indonesian martial arts movie making!

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  10. Loved this film and can’t wait for the sequel 😀

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    • Cheers Tim, will be interesting to see how they try and top this one. 🙂

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      • Probably just have a taller building hahaha 😀

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        • 🙂 Taller building and one less SWAT member to make it tougher!

          The actual follow up I think is actually a prequel, with a female martial arts expert thrown in the mix along with the cast from this one. They couldnt get that funded as its got more people/sets etc so they made this one in the one building. As it did so well financially they have the green light to go back and make the original film they wanted now they have the money.

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        • Sounds good, thanks for the info 😀

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        • No worries! There is actually a script floating round on IMDB for it but I haven’t checked it out, I like some things to be a surprise!

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        • I agree, the less spoilers the better 😀

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  11. Great review 🙂 I am dying to see this one. Can’t wait till it opens around here!

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  12. I heard of the movie before and after this review I definetly want to see it. I heard it just came out on blu-ray with bonus scenes, I’m guessing that’s the version you watched?

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    • Nah I had to import the unrated dvd, the blu ray version isnt out here for another month or so I think but I couldnt wait! Hope you like it if you do see, you will have to let me know your thoughts! 🙂 Thanks for the comment

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  13. great film. Last/recent great action film I seen. Was chaos. May want to check my review out (excuse the plug)

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