|Film review: The Raid: Redemption|
|Written by Ivan Radford|
|Monday, 14 May 2012 08:04|
Director: Gareth Evans
You may think you know all the ways to kill a man. Even the really cool ones. You don’t. It turns out there are loads. And The Raid knows all of them. Some involve filing cabinets.
Of course, you may not want to know how to kill a man with an office-based storage facility. You may want to watch a quiet, character-driven piece about policeman or drug dealers. This is not that film. Yes, there are characters. And they are policemen and drug dealers. But their only narrative function is to die. And to do it as messily as possible.
The plot is simple: a bunch of cops raid an apartment block run by Tama (Ray Sahetapy), a ruthless criminal overlord. (For a definition of ruthless, ask the guy he kills with a hammer in the opening 10 minutes.)
“Why are we doing this? Why now?” asks young rookie Rama (Iko Uwais). “Why the fuck not?” comes the reply. That’s about as much back-story as you need. There’s a neat moral twist in the relationship between two estranged brothers, which gives enough depth for some dramatic tension, but otherwise it’s all about the violence. Sweet, unfettered, skull-crunching, ball-busting, arm-breaking, face-punching, leg-cracking, shoulder-snapping, nose-squashing, neck-splitting, blood-bursting, pus-oozing, organ-splattering, skin-melting, pen-pushing, chair-wielding, door-smacking, fridge-exploding, filing cabinet-bashing gory violence.
Gareth Evans, a Welsh filmmaker who’s relocated to Indonesia, isn’t exactly the obvious choice for a modern-day John Woo. He’s only on his third feature. But he’s produced here a timeless cult classic with a titchy budget. How? By playing to his strengths.
His taut screenplay is barely written, let alone over-written. His runtime is a clipped 101 minutes. His camera glides down corridors with slick long takes, mixed with snappy edits that keep the action fluid but never confusing. And over the top, a loud soundtrack pounds against the rhythmic beatings with a real sense of drive.
Evans’ use of humans is equally precise. The smartest decision he makes is to use Iko Uwais’ talents both on and off screen, throwing punches for the camera and choreographing battles behind it. Then he takes the rest of his cast and hurls them into the 30-storey building, throwing them against the walls and balconies with glee – easily the best use of a location since that other apartment-block-based thriller, Attack the Block. These spatially-driven sequences gradually build in scale, climaxing in an over-the-top, borderline absurd, three-way dust-up that goes on for at least 10 minutes. If you don't whoop, cheer and laugh at the wanton brutality of it all, there's something wrong with you. Or more likely, there's nothing wrong with you at all, which is even worse.
You never shake the feeling that it’s all about to spiral out of control, but don’t be mistaken: beneath the endless, glorious carnage, Evans has this thing locked down. And he’s loving every minute of it. See it with the loudest, rowdiest, most drunken male crowd you can and you will too. But you’ll never look at a filing cabinet in the same way again.
The Raid offers impossibly, ludicrously, brutally flawless action spectacle. It’s the best thing to come out of Wales since Roald Dahl. Except he never killed anyone with a chair.
Fact of the day: The Raid is even better with cats.