- Use of Space
Producer: Gareth Evans, and Ario Sagantoro
Writer: Gareth Evans
Actors: Iko Uwais, Ananda George, Yayan Ruhian, Pierre Gruno, and Ray Sahetapy
Cinematography: Matt Flannery
Editing: Gareth Evans
This movie is S.W.A.T. meets Ip Man, only eighty times more ruthless than the Samuel L. Jackson flick. My friend came over one day proclaiming he had found the best kung fu movie — one that was way better than the films we had been watching this summer. So we popped the film in and watched it. The beginning fight scene alone had us hooked. Needing very little introduction to the plot or characters, we are thrown into their world and brought up to speed only after being roped in by the intense action. After watching it the first time I had to make sure everyone had seen this film. I have since seen The Raid: Redemption about four or five times.
In an apartment complex in Jakarta, Indonesia a drug lord named Mad Dog (Yayan Ruhian) has control of the building and all of the tenants who reside there. Sergeant Wahyu (Pierre Gruno) is leading his raid team in to infiltrate the drug cartel that lies within, when the team is quickly overtaken. The few survivors now must fight for their lives and escape the complex grounds that are guarded by well trained riflemen. The remaining men are pitted against Mad Dog’s elite hunting group and his two man wrecking crew. With a few plot twists and very little background information, this is a great watch for anyone who likes nonstop action.
Since this is an Indonesian film, I have not heard of any of these actors before. but to me they don’t seem like actors, they all seem like kung fu masters. Iko Uwais, who plays Rama – a rookie cop who has ulterior motives for participating in the raid, blows away the competition with his strength and power. He takes charge of the situation and asserts himself as leader even when the numbers start dwindling down, delivering a heroic performance. Donny Alamsyah is Andi, part of Mad Dog’s elite two man team that can destroy anything before it reaches the fifteenth floor. Andi is a surprising character who claims that he chooses the criminal life because, “it suits him.” The supporting roles were all played wonderfully as well and the entire thing moves and breathes as one, which is key in a movie that is so reliant on physical connections being made.
Incredible moves and jaw dropping stunts – with no stunt men. All the fights were choreographed by Uwais and Ruhian, which causes a unique effect because we can see the same actors doing the entire thing with no fancy camera work distracting us from the action. You cannot help but shudder and gasp at some of the neck-breaking and total annihilation that occurs. Beautifully done, with only a few moments of tasteless gore, this is an incredible display of hand to hand combat and the use of different weaponry.
Use Of Space
This is the most ingenious set design I’ve ever seen, with multiple levels of action and multiple routes available to get everywhere. The protagonists have to be smart if they are going to make it out alive, and they work the building to the best of their advantage. Using every resource around them they move between floors without using the stairs, and create an explosion without explosives. I don’t know what kind of training they give their police over there, but our force should adopt it.
Gareth Evans, who had his hand on pretty much every aspect of this film, included just enough of a plot to introduce you to the characters but not to distract you from the violence. The fighting spoke more than the dialogue in most cases throughout, and has some characteristics of a ballet. Keeping the audience in the dark until absolutely necessary puts you on the edge of your seat and hoping your favorite characters make it out of certain altercations. Evans continued to unveil different layers of the web all the way to the end. Both he and Uwais worked on another movie previous to this and I am interested to check it out.
I think part of the fun of foreign kung fu movies is how laughable the translations always are for our subtitles. Any good one I’ve seen has always had mistakes in the English and you can’t really hate them for it. Certain phrases most definitely do not translate perfectly so they must fudge a little to avoid leaving gaps in the conversations, but this one seemed like the worst. Using very broken English like “you no go” instead of “you cannot go” seems small, but you really start to notice it when its the only way to understand what’s going on. I wouldn’t say it ruined my experience in any way, but just allowed me to hone my ability to use context clues.
Buy It, Rent It, or Skip It?
Buy It. Watch it everyday. Become a kung fu master. Take down your local drug lord. Seriously a kickass movie, and a definite contender to add to my Best Kung-Fu Movies list. I urge any fan of action to check this one out, it is unique and unforgiving. You would be at a loss if you missed out on this one. I could watch it twelve more times and be ready to watch it again.
Overall Rating: 4.5 stars out of 5