In the world of movies, some filmmakers use violence as a plot device, some use it as a shock tactic and some use it just because. But there have also been some individuals who create artistic violence, a choreographed visual blast to the senses, intricate in every detail when considered carefully, and wild and exhilarating on the surface. Immediately, the name John Woo comes to mind, whose films were a mastery of choreographed chaos. Foreign films like Hard Boiled and The Killer are legendary, while American blockbusters like Face Off were pure action entertainment at its finest. However, very few Western born directors have ever mastered this art form – until Gareth Edwards, Welsh born director, presented us with “The Raid: Redemption.”
“The Raid: Redemption” follows a young rookie Jakarta cop named Rama, who joins a heavily armored team on a dangerous mission to the top of a high rise apartment building, which is the known home of an infamous criminal boss. However, as soon as the mission begins, it is clear that they have been led into a trap, and as his team members continue to fall, Rama must fight his way up through hell in order to complete the mission.
A few points up front – “The Raid” is not for the feint at heart, and it is certainly not for those looking for an intelligent thriller with complex plotting and characters. “The Raid” is full of one thing, and that is non-stop action. I’ve honestly seen almost nothing like it. Film’s like Hard Boiled and a few others can probably stake a claim, but overall it is just ridiculous how much intense choreographed brutality has been placed in one film. But the thing is, all of it is absolutely flawless. The set pieces are incredible, but within the tight apartment environment, they don’t for one second seem like choreography. The fights are natural, high tempo and absolutely inch perfect. Quite frankly I don’t know how someone wasn’t killed or severely injured during the making of this movie. It truly is the art of violence, and Gareth Edwards proves that he is already a master of the art.
The brutality is just that – brutal. So those who don’t appreciate violence in any form on screen would be best served to never watch this film. There is a ton of blood, brutal bone breaking maneuvers and awkward falls onto sharp objects. But it manages to somehow be just short of gratuitous for the sake of it. The camera doesn’t sit and dwell on a gory scene, it simply occurs and then the action continues. The fights are too high paced to dwell on anything to be honest. Somehow this creates an effect that feels like an assault on your senses. You know what you saw, and with most films it would be the exclamation point on a fight scene, but here it’s just another small part of the grander scheme so you just have to focus and try and keep up.
Now, needless to say in such a film as “The Raid,” plot and character development is sure to suffer a bit. The Usual Suspects, this is not. But there is just enough character work to get by, and there are some interesting plot twists along the way, which although predictable, do enough to give us something to follow along with as we see the action unfold. Even the best action scenes on earth aren’t effective if you don’t care about who lives or dies at all. That’s not the case with “The Raid”.
All in all, if you’re a fan of all out action at its absolute finest (and I mean finest), then you have to check out ‘The Raid: Redemption’ and put Gareth Evans on your radar as the next John Woo. Plus, “The Raid 2” is already on DVD and many think it is equally as incredible, if not better. I can say he certainly raised the bar on it, and while I don’t know if it’s better, it’s pretty awesome too.