Retro Movie Review: 'The Raid: Redemption' (2011)

"The Raid: Redemption" is a cult action flick that has become somewhat of a phenomenon given its strong word of mouth. Given that pre-screening expectations were high. Perhaps that is why upon actually seeing it, there was a bit of disappointment.

The premise centers on the raid of an apartment complex slum and similar to a video game, the SWAT team must make it through 30 levels, dispatching every small boss to get to the master or in this case, the slum lord.

The lead character Rama (Iko Uwais) is sympathetic. A family man tasked to bring justice to the dregs of society. The atmosphere seems taut and ready to do something. For the first portion of the film, there is gunfire and chaotic blasts. SWAT members are overrun and looking for refuge, hoping to survive.

Hand-to-hand combat is nowhere to be seen until the second half commences. In the meantime, guns blast as digital blood sprays across the screen, bringing acutely violent imagery into focus, and nothing else.

It becomes petulant and boring, a virtual “bang bang” without any bang. When compared to the cornucopia of modern martial arts films (“Ong-bak” and “The Enforcer” to name a few) the glaring lack of consistent action is apparent.

Where it is low on certain action dynamics, it does attempt to infuse itself with character development and philosophical inquiries. One character-reveal later in the film is unexpected and revitalizes aspects of the overall tension.

“The Raid” is split up into two films, the first half a dull “shoot em’ up”, gaming retread. Whereas, the second half shows off some exhilarating fight sequences that make the time investment, worthwhile.

The movie truly kicks into high gear when the character known as “Mad Dog” shows up. Yayan Ruhian demonstrates massive skill as the indefatigable fighter who has an unstoppable determination that could only be compared to that of a Terminator.

The choreography is gripping, intricate and visceral. It’s the highlight of the entire film and from then out, it ignites with the jolt it needs to make it to the finish line in high style.  
Rating: 6.5/10

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