Reviewed by Alicia Glass
Review Rating: 7
In the Indonesian slums, a SWAT team attempts to infiltrate a derelict apartment building that’s been declared a free-for-all zone full of killers run by a notorious drug lord!
Rama is the newbie who’s introduced to this SWAT team that’s about to infiltrate this fortress high rise to take the warlord Tama. Despite being well aware that this particular building is a no-go zone as far as the rest of the police are concerned, and also that the building is wired with cameras and killers for hire and who knows what else, the SWAT team goes in led by what appears to be a veteran who knows what he’s doing. Almost immediately, complete utter insanity in the form of the premiere Indonesian martial art called Pencak Silat ensues. The bad guys have some guns, yes, but they also seem to quite enjoy just wiping the floor with eachother with nothing but knives or their bare fists. The form seems to emphasize the madness that Jackie Chan made famous in movies – use your environment. Which I think is awesome. Rama does his best to keep his team alive, nevermind getting to the warlord at this point, only to learn that his leader Sergeant Jaka brought the team in here under false pretenses and is intent on taking the warlord out himself, no matter the cost. Whole scenes towards the beginning, where the building is using a very simple system to let the bad guys know the good guys have arrived, are tense enough to chew on. There’s a scene later where Rama is hiding in a wall with a teammate, and a nutso bad guy is stabbing his machete in there to make sure noones hiding. He makes one last stab that slices open Rama’s cheek and leaves the machete in the wall to wander off in a tirade; when he comes back to take his blade with him, Rama makes no sound and uses his glove to wipe his own blood off the blade as it comes out the wall. I was impressed – that’s the kind of scene, however short, that Hollywood has been seriously missing lately. And towards the end, after much to-ing and fro-ing and fighting and laying there to bleed out and die, we find out Rama’s brother Ani is here in the building and working as the brains of the warlords’ drug operation. Well. Nothing would do but to get them both out of there, with yet more fighting and dying, and Rama heads away from the police force into uncertain future, while his brother contemplates what to do next.
There isn’t a whole hell of a lot of plot for this movie. And being aware of this fact before I watched the movie, certainly helped. The film actually doesn’t really need it. The martial arts and fighting scenes do more than make up for lack of plot, but there are a few breathless plot moments that are pure gold. The manner in which the filming is done, all dark corners and bleached out colors, reminded me of The Maid, a Singaporean horror film, and yes that is a compliment. Apparently the actors trained with KOPASKA, the premier frogman and underwater demolition unit of the Indonesian Navy, in preparation for this film. Along with all the other physical action in this movie, the attention to realistic detail is wonderful. I watched it in the original Indonesian with Subtitles, no idea how the dubbed version sounds, but I bet the original is still better. The Raid: Redemption redeems itself above many other movies out this summer, if for no other reason the sheer amount of effort involved!