Keven's Movie Review: THE RAID: REDEMPTION

The Raid: Redemption is without a doubt the most adrenalized action film in years. Director Gareth Evans has crafted a killfest that is jam-packed with so much violent momentum it's hard to keep up with the pace.

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Much like Ong Bak gave us Tony Jaa, The Raid has delivered Iko Uwais. The man is an unstoppable force and his non-stop battle for survival in this tower of death is exhausting. Uwais plays the most gifted rookie SWAT officer ever, who ends up getting sent on a suicide mission to seize a slum tower loaded with crime lords and psychopaths. The initial impression here is that there is no story and all action in The Raid, but that's not true. There's even a very intriguing twist halfway through that despite it's end result being cliché I was happy to see some 'meaning' thrust into what is essentially an on rails rollercoaster of cinema slaughter.

It's a foreign film, so expect subtitles for the first 20 minutes. Then after the bullets begin flying don't expect to read too much from that point forward. The gunshots and impact the weaponry has on its victims looks and sounds so damn brutal. I was brought back to the latest Rambo and Expendables with that sense of power. Those first few shootouts are absolutely insane and when the bullets run out, say hello to machetes, knives, clubs and straight up fists of death.

Uwais' battles in the halls are by far the most impressive and violent, that I have seen since Jaa's epic fight sequences in The Protector. The machete death squad that roams the hallways of the apartment building also brings a sense of unnerving dread to The Raid when the action 'slows' down and we see our remaining SWAT officers struggling to stay alive in this slum lord hell. The way Evans builds suspense and then explodes the tension with a high-octane fight sequence is an art form.

I also have to give Mike Shinoda from Linkin Park a lot of credit for his fantastic film score. The subtle electronic and pulsing sounds help add so much depth to The Raid that I can't imagine seeing the movie without Shinoda's soundtrack. He's well on his way to becoming the Trent Reznor of popcorn flicks.

My only gripes would be that I began to get worn out near the last quarter of the film, simply due to the chaotic pace of the action beforehand. Because The Raid starts out so strong and the violence is already original and shocking, there isn't much the fight choreographers could do to 'top' the earlier sequences. Once you see a guy getting Muay Thai knees to the chest, be prepared to see it again a thousand more times. Whereas the action set pieces in films like The Protector built themselves up more over time, The Raid amps the chaos up so quickly that it begins to wear the viewer out later on.

The Raid: Redemption is still a blast despite running out of ideas in the fight choreography near the end and even then, the final three-man battle is still an absolute classic. That's a testament to Evans and his stunt team, because they went balls out and put everything they have into creating the most intense and action packed film in years. The Raid is the darkest popcorn flick in a long time and I can't wait for Evans to further the franchise in upcoming sequels.

Deep in the heart of Jakarta's slums lies an impenetrable safe house for the world's most dangerous killers and gangsters. Until now, the rundown apartment block has been considered untouchable to even the bravest of police. Cloaked under the cover of pre-dawn darkness and silence, an elite swat team is tasked with raiding the safe house in order to take down the notorious drug lord that runs it. But when a chance encounter with a spotter blows their cover and news of their assault reaches the drug lord, the building's lights are cut and all the exits blocked. Stranded on the 6th floor with no way out, the unit must fight their way through the city's worst to survive their mission.

The Raid: Redemption is directed by Gareth Evans, stars Iko Uwais and is scored by Linkin Park's Mike Shinoda. The foreign language action blockbuster is now playing in select cities.

4-5 Stars