BLU-RAY REVIEW: The Raid - Redemption
The Most Exciting Action Film of the Millennium Hits Hi-Def Home Video...
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The Raid - Redemption is the best action movie of the new millennium.
Now that's a big claim, but it's hard to remember a time when I've seen a film that's so jam packed with action and excited me so much, I re-watched it twice in the same night. Seriously, The Raid - Redemption is an action fan's dream come true. Loaded with suspense, gun battles galore, and some of the most impressive martial arts ever captured on film, The Raid - Redemption is, simply put, 101 minutes of marvelous mayhem.
Of course, a film isn't worth watching if it only includes action. Thankfully, The Raid - Redemption also includes an interesting take on the typical police S.W.A.T. story. Set in Jakarta, Welsh-born written/directed Gareth Evans, whose previous film Merantau was a masterpiece, brings The Raid - Redemption to life thanks to his teaming up once again with Merantau star Iko Uwais. Uwais plays S.W.A.T. Police Officer Rama, a dedicated service member with a pregnant wife at home and a van full of well armed brother officers at his back. Trained for anything and ready to take down a 30-story building filled with drug dealers, gunrunners, and criminals of every types, Rama and his fellow team members enter the building at daybreak, taking the criminals by surprise. However, when the S.W.A.T. team finds itself ambushed on the 6th floor, there's only two options: fight their way out or die trying. It's at this point pure survival instinct takes over and - literally - kicks in. Police procedures be damned, it's kill or be killed and arresting the criminals takes a back seat to blocking the machete being swung at your head and cutting the villain to ribbons with your duty blade. Seriously, this film is stocked full of the some of the most viscous, violent, and brutal martial arts in any film ever. Marketed as "Unrated," this film is not for the faint of heart.
Writer/director Evans' story, though primarily driven by and focused on the Silat martial arts action, is extremely well paced and includes enough character development to keep most film fans entertained. There's not a moment the film isn't progressing. Rama, with a pregnant wife at home, makes for a fine protagonist with the will to live and do anything to survive. Of course, we likewise learn to feel the same for some of the residence of the building, innocent bystanders of this horrible event who - should they choose to help the police and put their lives on the line - could die just as violently as the officers. Thus, when death becomes a commonplace and main characters begin to meet their end, we are effected and feel for them and their comrades who still must struggle to survive. Of course, we want to see what they'll do to the criminals too. Filled with shoot outs, knife fights, and fisticuffs galore, this dynamic film makes for great entertainment for action fans with the intestinal fortitude to watch it.
Thanks to a 1080p hi-def picture, the movie is gorgeous and wonderfully delivers the dark, dank atmosphere of the apartment building while ensuring movement stay clear, crisp, and clean. With so much action happening, it's hard to see everything, yet thanks to solid camera work, interesting use of camera angles, and an eye for what to shoot and when, the picture always stays clear and understandable. Likewise, the sound effects are spot-on and likewise intense. Whether it be the hacking of machetes, the cutting of blades, the crack of gunfire, or the intense fists beating body armor, each and every bullet, blow, and cut comes through clean and clear. The Indonesian/Bahasa dialogue is easily heard and the English subtitles are easy to read. Well worth noting, the sound track features music from Linkin Park's Mike Shinoda, so it's hard not to love the audio intensity of The Raid - Redemption.
As for special features, the film includes an audio commentary with writer/director Evans, which is fun for those who enjoy feature commentary. He chats about his working in his home country and Indonesia, his influences, his styles, his shooting techniques, and more. Interesting for those wanting to delve deeper into the making of the film, it's worth a listen. A number of short featurettes on everything from the music, sets, stunts and visual effects to the choreographed fights and post production are also included and well worth watching if you enjoy the film and want to know even more about how it was made. Likewise, a 40 minute "An Evening with Gareth Evans, Mike Shinoda & Joe Trapanese" is a round table of sorts with moderator Hadrian Belove which answers some interesting questions about the film. The 11 minute "Behind the Music with Mike Shinoda and Joe Trapanese" chats with the musical composers behind the film's score; a fun watch for those who want to know more about the musical score. An interesting 3 minute "Claycat's The Raid" is the movie remade with claymation cats (seriously) while the 44 second "THE RAID TV Show ad" is a stylized animated TV spot for the film which should make some fans smile. Lastly, the film's theatrical trailer is also included.
Overall, there's not much more praise I can give The Raid - Redemption. Its story is solid, its characters fleshed out and real, and its action beyond intense. It's actually somewhat disappointing and depressing US filmmakers can't deliver something this impressive on a budget this tight. After all, The Raid - Redemption was made for only $1.1 million, a drop in the bucket for some of today's biggest Hollywood action films. And, all things considered, The Raid - Redemption is by far one of the most entertaining film's I've seen in the last five years. I've already watched it four times and I'm watching it now as I type this review. If you're an action film fan and want to see the best the world has to offer, it doesn't get any better than The Raid - Redemption.
The Raid - Redemption is available now on blu-ray and DVD wherever fine home video is sold.
- Jess C. Horsley
"Until next time...have FUN with your figures!!"
Jess C. Horsley