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April 22, 2012

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Capsule Movie Review – The Raid: Redemption (2012)

by HELEN GEIB

The setting of The Raid: Redemption is the Indonesian version of the projects: a decaying housing block dominated by thuggish criminals and the crime lord who runs the place like his personal fiefdom. The police unit, about 20 strong, sent in to bring him out is spotted just a few floors in; most are killed almost immediately. This focuses attention on Rama (Iko Uwais; also the co-choreographer), a straight-arrow cop and martial arts proficient with a personal agenda. It also shows a sound assessment of the audience’s capacity to take what’s about to be dished out. The few remaining heroes, and the meretricious officer they’re escorting, must run the gauntlet of villains lurking in every room, hall, and stairwell. Guns give way to machetes give way to hands and feet. The action is intense and realistic, and hard-hitting in more than just the obvious sense- it’s tough to watch a good man go down when we know him well enough to know that he is a good man. Rama’s climactic fight with the crime lord’s right-hand man achieves an emotional pitch of almost unbearable intensity. The story is formulaic but has the elemental simplicity of The Warriors (1979), which provided the template. The direction by Gareth Evans (who also wrote the screenplay) is a synthesis of the coherent, high shot count Hong Kong style and the highly mobile- not shaky- camera. Uwais is a killer combination of skills, screen presence, acting talent, youth, and good looks. It’s enough to make an action fan cry tears of joy.

3 1/2 stars

One thing I liked and one thing I didn’t like: The exploding fridge. Nothing comes to mind.


22 Comments Post a comment
  1. Apr 23 2012

    You must have disliked something, you left out half a star! lol

    But I kid. :O)

  2. Apr 23 2012

    Put it this way: I acknowledge action movie logic (in contradistinction to the real-world variety) without disliking it.

  3. Doc
    Apr 30 2012

    The realism of the violence is what sets the film apart, beautifully choreographed and yet compelling in its intensity. When you go, be sure to stay for the closing credits — not because there are big surprises, but because the international character. and the complexity, of the production is such fun to watch being presented.

  4. May 28 2012

    I finally watched this film lat night. You guys can guess how I felt about it. :O)

  5. May 29 2012

    Actually, you’re kind of tough to predict. ^_^ Is that a thumbs up?

  6. May 30 2012

    I like being unpredictable. :O)

    I believe that having been subjected to a large amount of classic films throughout the past few weeks has made my brain turn against our contemporary cinema. As I’d mentioned in another post I watched Safe House and found it to be ungodly boring and entirely uninteresting because nothing is explained to the audience until the very end and by time time I’d already filled in my own story and it, sadly matched the one from the film. I understand why Ryan Reynolds looked confused throughout the entire film and that was because he didn’t know what the hell was going on. Sadly, neither did the audience.

    As for The Raid, I like it even less than Safe House. It’s not that the film has a ridiculous and superfluous purple look to it and it’s not that the camera did shake when it didn’t need to (those are minor gripes), it’s that twenty minutes into the film I felt bored and asked myself why the film even exists. By its conclusion nothing much had happened that wasn’t shown in the trailers and that’s what I find made me greatly dislike the film.

    Your review for the film, Helen, while nicely worded would be longer than my review for it because the film has no story (not even a cliched plot!) and I utterly hate that about some films.

    Here’s the gist of The Raid: Cops want to nab bad guys -> they enter the bad guy’s building and most of them get massacred early on in the raid -> three or four cops are still alive and fend for themselves for 101 minutes -> the end. Even martial arts films deserve a story (or even a contrived and nonsensical plot!) and this film majorly needed one and I’m not sure why but it irked me that the entire film took place inside that one building. And let’s not forget the snipers that kill cops whenever they feel like it (the protagonist faced many windows and from many directions).

    I don’t even find this a martial arts film; it’s just an action film and I hate action sequences that don’t know when to stop. That’s why I’m not a gamer: I play a game for a couple of hours and then grow tired of the action. Loving films with great stories to tell, imagine how I felt after the first twenty minutes of this film. And the final fight went on forever and ever and ever…

    I really dislike this film. I don’t hate it but I hate that I grew bored after twenty minutes of it because the film had nothing to offer except shootouts and close quarters combat fights for 101 minutes. I hate these kinds of films.

    What makes Fist of Legend one of the bets martial arts films of the 20th century? The setting of WWII, the fights that don’t seem entirely choreographed, the racism between the Japanese and the Chinese, and the fight sequences that took place every 20 minutes. It’s an evenly paced, well acted, and brilliantly choreographed martial arts film that tells a good story, has characters that are fully developed, and is exciting. You’re always waiting for the next fight, instead of how I felt during The Raid where I wanted the fights to stop and the location to change.

    Man, I really hate the most beloved films of 2012. And now that I’ve vented, I have more classics to watch. :O)

    Lats night I watched Nevada Smith (1966), starring Steve McQueen and it was quite good. Now that’s a manly film!

  7. May 30 2012

    I don’t want to repeat my review and what I didn’t say is said here: http://www.kungfucinema.com/reviews/review-the-raid-redemption-2012

    I don’t tell people what to like (at least I try not to do that!) but I will take issue with your contention that it isn’t a martial arts film. All the principal cast are professional martial artists, the choreography is by professional martial artists, and the last two thirds of the movie is one big showcase for the national martial art of Indonesia.

  8. May 30 2012

    Yeah, I’m familiar with Silat. But to me, the film just made it look like street fighting performed by cops. And that’s the one and only thing that I liked about the film, that the protagonist is identified as a good guy, or THE good guy solely from the fact that he wears a police officer’s uniform.

    I guess it’s just hard to please me. If it’s not Japanese, Korean, Chinese, or Russian that I just don’t like it. I also hate every film that Tony Jaaa starred in (you already know this) because he’s a world class gymnast and not a martial artist, and re The Raid, I find that changing the title of the film to “Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! The Movie” would be more beneficial.

    I know that the film goes for realism, and I did really like the scenes with the knife but they were too darn short and the film features every character screaming at the top of their lungs until they are killed or knocked out; and that went on for 101 minutes. The film could have been an hour flat.

    I just don’t like pure action. It’s uninteresting to me and I grow bored from early on, and I did also with this because the film had nothing to offer except pure action. I guess I’m probably not really a die hard Kung Fu fan after all. I like characters in diverse martial arts universes, I like complexly choreographed and not seeming to have been choreographed fight sequences, and I prefer various locations, but that’s not entirely necessary.

    To me, this film took away everything that makes a martial arts film exciting. And I really hate being the stick in the mud but there’s nothing that can change my mind.

    I will rewatch the film one day but I make no promises otherwise. :O)

  9. May 31 2012

    Story is just one ingredient in a thick stew. A very slight story can be all that’s needed, depending on the type of movie it is and how good the other ingredients are.

    Take “A Night at the Opera” for example. It has a very weak story. I’ve seen it several times over the years and I still don’t remember much of anything about the story, aside from there being a really lame Thalberg-imposed young lovers subplot. But it’s a great comedy! The stateroom scene, the hijinks at the opera house, Groucho and Chico’s contract routine… the movie works entirely regardless of the lack of story. The same can be said of a lot of movies, musicals and action movies especially.

  10. Muh
    Aug 5 2012

    Fist of Legend had fights that didn’t seem choreographed? I love that movie, but that statement is just factually incorrect. Those are EXTREMELY choreographed looking. Superbly so, don’t get wrong. But as naturalistic as me walking on the moon.

  11. Aug 6 2012

    @Muh, I wrote that the fight sequences don’t seem entirely choreographed. They don’t follow the traditional, paint-by-numbers, slow paced, fight sequences from ’60s classic Kung Fu films. Yes, they’re choreographed by legitimately seem like martial arts masters duking it out.

    The Raid‘s choreography was all about “real” people fighting in a “realistic” environment, and because of that it got real boring real quickly. It was just the same punches and kicks for 100+ minutes and the protagonist usually fought one guy at a time; sometimes two. Only punching and kicking is boring when that’s what happens throughout the entirety of the film.

    And besides, I know plenty of people that walked out of the film by the half way point because they grew bored. Substance triumphs style every time and we need something to entertain us. It’s obviously not just me, but a martial arts film that’s comprised of 90% action and 10% expository dialogue is an insult to the martial arts film genre.

    Lastly, I don’t have to like every film that’s enjoyed by most others. I don’t like The Avengers and I don’t like The Dark Knight Rises, but that fact is to come at a later time.

  12. Aug 7 2012

    “a martial arts film that’s comprised of 90% action and 10% expository dialogue is an insult to the martial arts film genre”

    Many would say that’s the ideal form of the genre.

    My own ideal is represented by OUATIC 1 and 2. The perfect balance of a great story, good character development, and amazing martial arts, and the fights are varied, progressively complex, and integrated into the narrative.

  13. Aug 7 2012

    @Helen, exactly. But The Raid is completely the opposite. It has little to no character development, because none is needed (heck, even subtitles aren’t needed!); choreography that consists of standard punching and kicking and goes on for for more than 90 minutes; uninteresting, standard gunplay; and non-stop action.

    All of the above equals boring. Boredom is subjective but I know for a fact that many people were bored during the film and from early on.

    What disappoints me is how many others claim that it’s one of the best martial arts films in decades. I find that to be outrageous.

  14. Aug 8 2012

    “non-stop action”

    For you it’s a pejorative. For me it’s a compliment. Let’s leave it at that.

  15. Aug 8 2012

    Done. :O)

    …I had to Google pejorative… lol

  16. Aug 9 2012

    dictionary.com

    my go-to reference

  17. Aug 9 2012

    There is no longer a need to go there because if you go to Google and type: “define ____” the first result that comes up is the definition of said word, and Google’s top sources are Dictionary.com, Wikipedia.org., and Answers.com

    Observe: define pejorative

    :O)

    Helen, OT but how do you like my newly learned basic HTML skills?

  18. Aug 10 2012

    I had noticed and was duly impressed. ^_^ Generally I have to be dragged kicking and screaming into learning code.

  19. Aug 10 2012

    lol

    I wanted to learn code so that I could make my blog look nice and fit perfectly on different computers with various types of resolution.
    All I had to do was Google HTML and I learned it within a matter of hours. It’s only the basics but it’s more than enough.

    And thanks, Helen!

  20. heri
    Sep 26 2012

    helen did you like chow yun fa “crounching tiger hidden dragon”? or “Hero” from jet lee, And all other movie martial art wire-dance type?
    If you already read & hear other people review/talk about “the raid” as “full action movie that visual realism martial art fight” before you watch it, so why complain?

  21. Sep 26 2012

    @heri: Um, what? I loved THE RAID. That’s why I gave it a rave review.

    To your question, I’ve seen a lot of wuxia films. It’s my favorite genre.

  22. Sep 26 2012

    heri might be referring to me… lol

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