dir. Gareth Evans, starring Iko Uwais, Joe Taslim, Ray Sahetapy and Yayan Ruhian
A squad of Indonesian cops raid an apartment building filled with gangsters and goons, intending to capture or kill the evil kingpin who lives on the 15th floor. When most of the cops get killed by the first wave of defenders, the last few are trapped and left to fight for their survival. There's a plot contrivance that prevents any of the cops calling for backup, forcing the last few to decide whether to continue to pursue their target or just try to escape the building. It's a tantalizingly simple set up, one that neither requires nor offers much in the way of character, plot or exposition, instead choosing to focus on delivering some of the best martial arts action since Tony Jaa burst onto the scene with his acrobatic performance in Ong Bak.
Around 85 of it's 100 minutes are devoted to brutal, gory action that left me giddy as a schoolgirl...a metric ton of hideous violence is inflicted on the human body using guns, knives, machetes, tables, chairs, etc. People get shot in the face or neck at point blank range several times. Many throats are slashed, torsos are repeatedly stabbed and limbs are laid open to the bone by various blades. Buckets of blood get splashed across the screen.
There's also plenty of hand to hand fighting, mainly showcasing the Indonesian 'Pencak Silat' style. To my eye, Silat appears to be a practical combination of Muay Thai and Judo techniques, mixing vicious elbow/knee strikes with joint locks and painful looking throws. Iko Uwais (playing the heroic cop) is very skilled and incredibly quick, but the real star of the show is Yayan Ruhian who plays Mad Dog, the main muscle for the lead bad guy. His feral intensity, speed and flexibility are a marvel to behold. I firmly believe that if Ruhian wasn't so ugly, he would've been cast as the hero of the film instead of a villain, but his skills are highlighted in several long fight scenes.
The fight choreography is incredibly intricate, lightning fast and expertly filmed. Hollywood film makers could learn a hell of a lot from Welsh director Gareth Evans about how to frame and shoot people fighting. There's not a single shakycam shot or rapidfire edit to be seen. I'd confidently bet anyone right now that the hand to hand fighting in Chris Nolan's upcoming Batman film will look like a pile of hot dogshit next to The Raid's.
In short, The Raid: Redemption is awesome and pretty much required viewing for fans of action cinema. It's been out for a few weeks now and isn't showing on many screens, so if you haven't already seen it in theaters, you might have to wait for the DVD at this point. I'll be first in line to own this bad boy, it deserves a place of honor in my action collection.