Saturday, November 16, 2013

The Raid: Redemption = A Masterpiece of a Martial-Arts Action Film

Movie Review: The Raid: Redemption

Director: Gareth Evans

Reviewed: 16 November 2013

jamesintexas rating--****

In 2011's The Raid: Redemption, Gareth Evans has crafted a breathtaking action film, ingenious in its simplicity and stunning in its choreography. A SWAT team of officers in Indonesia burst into a looming building run by a crime boss. In video game style, the team must ascend the flights of stairs and arrest, incapacitate, or kill any of the underlings en route to the boss. Evans puts us squarely behind his lead character, Rama (Iko Uwais), an officer with a pregnant wife at home and at least one hidden reason for making this assault on the criminal fortress.

Once inside, the elite team of soldiers finds themselves outgunned, outmanned, and outmaneuvered as the boss orchestrates a brutal counterattack from his penthouse. The fighting in this film is brutal: a combination of martial arts with knives, chairs, chains, glass, anything at hand. Evans wisely pulls his camera back, allowing the ballet-like display of limbs flying and bouncing off each other to have a real impact. At no point in this film did I feel like it was chaos cinema: unexplained or incomprehensible action. The objectives are clear: get to the top, get the boss, get out. And the team finds itself shattered into smaller and smaller pieces, and Rama faces test after test.

I think that the film is small in scope, big in heart. It accomplishes what it sets out to do. I was blown away by the physicality of all of the actors here. The fights seem impossibly real and inventive and violent; I was continually amazed by the movement of the bodies in motion. A film can be about anything and be enjoyable. For me, The Raid: Redemption is a perfect film, perfectly executed. I'm hungry for the sequel.

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