A Fight to The Finish

“A film showcasing ‘the traditional Indonesian martial art Pencak Silat’ and loaded with ‘innovative action to the brim’.”

Written by Shalini Langer | Published:May 12, 2012 3:38 am

THE RAID: REDEMPTION

DIRECTOR: Gareth Evans

Cast: Iko Uwais,Joe Taslim,

Ray Sahetapy,Yayan Ruhian

Rating: ***

“A film showcasing ‘the traditional Indonesian martial art Pencak Silat’ and loaded with ‘innovative action to the brim’.” Carrying that kind of a tag can be risky for a film in the middle of summer blockbusters where big just keeps getting bigger.

But Gareth Evans,the director,action choreographer and the screenplay writer of The Raid: Redemption,goes small and smaller. It’s a simple premise,set in stark surroundings,involving a handful of men,fighting over small stakes. However,as The Raid: Redemption proves,while too much violence can be benumbing,the possibility of it never is. Evans keeps us occupied in the story,engrossed and horrified,knowing how it will end but unable to look away.

Everything about The Raid is evocative of a dereliction and waste that escape neither the heroes nor the bad guys,even as the feverish soundtrack conveys the lack of a thoughtful pause on either side. It’s a bare existence,brutal and cruel,a just setting for the no-holds-barred combat that is to follow,without any distractions. One of the ganglord’s main flunkeys is called Mad Dog (Ruhian),but there are other scenes where the men circle in on their quarries as little but ferocious pets.

The entire film is shot in a derelict apartment building in Jakarta’s slums,which is occupied by the city’s most dangerous killers and run by its vicious ganglord Tama (Sahetapy). For 10 years,it has been a no-go zone,including for the cops. Until now,when a SWAT team has been deployed to raid the building,clean it up floor by floor,all the way to the topmost 15th floor,from where Tama runs its operations.

Things are going as per plan,till a child “spotter” sees the cops on the sixth floor and,before he is shot,raises an alarm,alerting Tama. All hell breaks loose in the building with its rundown,dimly lit,but CCTV-monitored corridors as Tama summons his army to take the cops out.

There is a lot of shooting,stabbing,beheading,death and a bit of heroism,and no mercy at all. Riding on the shoulders of its sincere hero Rama (Uwais),the film manages to keep you on the edge of your seats and praying for,at best,a quick death for the rapidly diminishing SWAT team.

The plot is skeletal,the story is replete with cliches,the acting,apart from that of Uwais and Sahetapy,mediocre,the dialogues minimal and patchy,and the dubbing surprisingly monotonously amateurish. However,this Indonesian film knows where it packs a punch and keeps on landing the blows.

shalini.langer@expressindia.com

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