There is no genre mixing in The Raid: Redemption. Unlike films which are billed as both comedy and drama or mystery and suspense thriller, The Raid is strictly action and that’s it. There are different types of action such as martial arts, assault rifles, and knives, but that is as varied as the genre becomes. If you have the desire to see pure action and violence with hardly any intervening scenes to slow it down and provide plot, then The Raid is probably what you’ve been looking for.
On a very early morning in Indonesia, an elite police squad is on its way to clear out a drug and gang infested building, floor by floor. The sergeant leading the operation, Jaka (Joe Taslim), does not lie to his troops about what awaits them. The building is controlled by Tama (Ray Sahetapy) and his two trusted lieutenants, Mad Dog (Yayan Ruhian) and Andi (Doni Alamsyah). I leave it up to you to guess which of these guys is the muscle and which is the brains. They hold court on the 15th floor of the building which is used as a narcotics operation and as a boarding house for every violent thug imaginable.
The rookie on the team is Rama (Iko Uwais) who, of course, has a very pregnant wife at home. Along with 20 other police officers, they are to sweep the building, arrest the bad guys, and bring in Tama and his two cohorts. Things obviously do not follow the plan; otherwise The Raid would not be rapidly gaining in cult status as it is. In a twist, Tama, who quickly figures out what is going on in the lower floors of his buildings, makes an announcement to the hundreds of bad guys that whoever helps kill the cops, will get to live in the building forever rent free.
Out come the pistols, machetes, knives, and every other item imaginable as the building’s residents suddenly surround the cops and shut down the exits. Wave upon wave of hopped up gangster reigns assault rifle and machete-wielding fury upon the quickly diminishing and out-gunned crime fighters. Rama emerges as a very capable man not only with a knife, but with his bare hands. The close-quartered fight scenes are not short nor are they quickly edited and jumpy. There are extended sequences of men just annihilating one another all over the room employing some extremely impressive martial arts.
Do not go into this film looking for plot and character development. You will not find it because there is no room for it in between all of the mayhem and bodies being flung all over the place. Normally, I would shrug off a film which is so one-sided; however, The Raid is so accomplished in what it is offering to the audience that I applaud it. These fight scenes are so well done they must have taken forever to choreograph and film. Sure, the script is ludicrous but the goal of the filmmaker is not to tell a story, but to impress its intended audience with a level of screen violence and authenticity it probably has not seen before.
The Raid: Redemption is not for everyone; there are audience members (namely females and anyone who does not enjoy flowing blood) who will be repulsed by it and I urge them to stay away. The majority of the audience I saw this film with was male and solo. However, there were enough audible “Ouch!” and “Damn!” exclamations in the theatre that you might as well have been seeing it with your best guy friends.