If there was one film that had me salivating for the best part of the past year it was this hyper Indonesian fight fest by way of Welsh director Gareth Evans, the nationality mash-up of the creative force and his film is by no means necessary but a fact that I cannot help finding neat. The Raid: Redemption is a blistering rush, with its fair to say an audacious level of violence. Showing up with a solid level of expectation I happily wasn’t disappointed, but then in a kinetic 101 minutes I wasn’t exactly given the option to be.
The only qualms I could have, if I hadn’t found the film so deeply entertaining, would be the sparseness of a few of the characters, whilst most players carry out their roles nicely with no need for much exposition or arcing, in hindsight there were a couple left sitting a little on the fence as opposed to living up to their potential strength in overall events, especially considering the amount of force on show more could’ve been designated to those that were apparently key instigators. Facing facts The Raid is not an original pitch, nor is it complex in its script or easy on the senses, although the latter is a definite plus in my mind. This film knows what it is, that’s not to take anything away from its impact or it being littered with wonderful flourishes of sharp brilliance, everyone on board seems usefully aware of what they need to do to make this film stronger than the average. As an Asian actioner The Raid is hardly on its own in the marketplace so chooses a well-balanced style in which to stand out from the pack. Most notably its intimacy, the camera clings tightly to the fight sequences, so much so I was often concerned the cinematographer might take a foot or even machete to the lens. This intimacy also lends itself to brutal details that pop up during the consistent outbursts, adding tension and veering the action away from being simply mindless.
I managed to be pleasantly surprised by how tense and occasionally patient certain scenes were, providing less of an ‘edge of your seat’ experience and more of a ‘pinned to the back of your seat’ one. For example; one particular execution is carried out in an achingly drawn out fashion, though it lasts a mere few seconds it feels like minutes, ending up inducing sympathy and all the more painfully effective for it. I did veer close to worrying that the already vast brutality may have exhausted itself around the 30 minute mark but my was I glad that copious amounts of shooting, slicing and bludgeoning was yet to be thrown at me. Rest assured if you favour a pummelling from your action then you will get just that. The Raid: Redemption is sheer visceral fun, displaying skill, confidence and flair which now has me excitedly awaiting Gareth Jones’ next foray into genre film.