September 11, 2012

DVD Review: The Raid - Redemption

The Raid: Redemption seemed to spring up out of nowhere earlier this year. I was quietly going about my business and then it was all over the place. I began to see a lot of positive buzz surrounding this Indonesian action film with a lot of praise for its extensive action sequences and impressive fight choreography. Being a big fan of action and martial arts films, I knew I had to see it. See it I did. Believe me when I tell you it is a thing of beauty. It is an action film that caters to the adrenaline junkie unlike most films hitting the screens these days.

While the action is glorious this movie is not quite perfect. There is a lack of story and character development, it is not completely absent, but it is certainly not a priority. The Raid: Redemption is more of a pure exercise in genre filmmaking. It is much more about creating hard hitting action than trying to comment on society or the human condition. It is art in the execution. Story is not always a necessary piece of the puzzle when creating cinema.

Yes, there is a story, but it is just enough to get you into the movie and is developed just enough to keep you involved. It is just lip service to get you from point A to point everyone gets the snot beat out of them. The tag line essentially lays out all you really need to know: "1 Ruthless Crime Lord, 20 Elite Cops, 30 Floors of Chaos." This is a pure action movie, all it truly cares about is the execution of the violence. Where some see repetitive fights and shootouts with little else to cling to, the genre fan sees inventively vicious fights, a team of talented martial artists and stuntmen, and a nice build from the initial blows to the final showdown. The story is of little consequence when the orchestra of fists play this well.

The story follows a police tactical unit embarking on a raid of an apartment building that doubles as a crime boss's compound. It is a building that has long been a no-go zone for the police. A police lieutenant has set up the attack, although some of the men on the team question the timing, wondering "why now?" Some truths will be learned, but before that time, there is plenty of fighting to be had.

The police enter the building and quietly begin to take control, floor by floor. The last thing they want is for word to get to the boss and him to unleash his attack forces. Well, floor six proves to be a sticking point as they are spotted and the alarm is triggered. The crime boss locks the building down, let's the tenants know his building is being attacked, and promptly puts a bounty on the heads of the police infestation. This leads to an outpouring of bounty hunters seeking to take down some cops.

That is about all there is. On the character side of the coin we first meet our hero, Rama (Iko Uwais), leaving his pregnant wife and going off to work. There is also a vow to bring someone home. Finally, the guy in charge of the raid might know more than he is letting on.

All right, with the story bits out of the way, sit back and enjoy some great fights and large amounts of violence. Now, it is hard to discuss this without using words that can get you all excited for it, the last thing I want to do is hype it up too much for you. I know what overhype can to expectations.

Let's just say that once the guns run out of bullets, there is a steady stream of inventively choreographed fights. There are some really hardcore fights and it does not look like anyone is pulling any punches. There are gauntlet style fights on hallways, one on one duels, two on one fights, and other permutations. Something to remember, while the fights are great, there are other inventive bits to see, this includes a variety of ways to get between floors that do not include stairs and avoiding detection after being cut through a wall. It is an action packed, visual feast.

The martial arts style in the movie is called Silat. It is an Indonesian style that reminded me of Muay Thai. It is a brutal looking style with lot so kicks and elbows and skilled use of bladed weapons. This was my first exposure to the style and hopefully not my last

Audio/Video. The DVD is presents the film it is original ratio of 1.78:1. It is an all right looking transfer but a far cry from the best I have seen. I cannot say I saw anything in the way of compression issues or other digital artifacts. The film lacks a lot of fine detail and what detail there is is lost in a lot of dark sequences. Much of it feels a bit muddy, bland, and lifeless. Some of the issue is likely the source as it was a low budget affair, but I would have liked it to look a little sharper.

Audio is represented by a 5.1 Dolby Digital track in the original Indonesion/Bahasa language. It is a solid track that puts the dialogue clearly in the center and fills everything else with plenty of gunfire, crunching fists and thunderous kicks. It is a solid track that does well to convey the action. There is also an English dub and it is not good. The dialogue is flat and the rest of the audio seems muffled. There is not a lot of dialogue so there is no real need for it.

  • Commentary. The track features writer/director Gareth Evans. It is a good piece win plenty of information about the genesis of the project as well as the production.
  • Behind the Scenes Video Blogs. This is a series of clips hat look at various elements of the production including weapons handling, the development of some of the fight sequences, and set design.
  • An Evening with Gareth Evans, Mike Shinoda, And Joe Trapanese. This is a Q&A session with the trio about the film.
  • Behind the Music with Mike Shinoda and Joe Trapanese. The composing duo discuss the creation of the score.
  • Anatomy of a Scene with Gareth Evans. This is a brief clip discussing the hole drop sequence where the camera follows the action through a hole in the floor to the next room.
  • In Conversation with Gareth Evans and Mike Shinoda. The two discuss a few elemens of the film, this is broken into three segments.
  • Inside the Score. A brief piece of te score set o scenes from the film and some critics praise.
  • Claycat's The Raid. The film remade with claymation cats. This is pretty awesome and surprisingly bloody.
  • The Raid TV Show Ad (circa 1994). A neat old school animated promo.
  • Theatrical Trailer.
Bottomline. What it lacks in story it more than makes up for with one crunching action. This really is a fantastic action film. It has been accused of being a cinematic video game, but it really isn't. This is a movie that is intended to be an action showcase, it does that. It is adrenaline filled excitement that every action fan should see.

Highly Recommended.

Article first published as DVD Review: The Raid - Redemption on Blogcritics

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