Blu-ray Review: The Raid Redemption

Action films get churned out of moviemaking factories at an alarmingly high rate. That's what makes finding a motion picture like The Raid Redemption so's unlike any you've seen before. Sure, we've seen cops hunt down crime lords before, but the hyper-violent fight scenes, the relentless battles, the raw survival instincts, and the twists and turns to the story will have you gripped the entire time. This one is no doubt one of my favorite films of 2012 and it entertained me more than just about anything that Hollywood has rolled out all year.

Watching the many behind-the-scenes featurettes with director Gareth Evans and his team truly enhanced the experience and makes you want to watch the film again. And again. Something I don't mind doing at all. American audiences are not exposed to many films from Indonesia but Sony Classics knew it had something when it released Raid in limited release back in March to critical acclaim and solid box office (in its first weekend) on its way to a $4.1M domestic gross. Success came upfront from the top markets while unfortunately an aggressive nationwide roll-out into nearly 900 theaters didn't catch on. It may have been too niche for a mainstream run.

But now is the time to catch it. This one is not for the squeamish. Violence of all kinds are packed into this film including gunplay, knife wizardry, hand-to-hand combat, and the occasional light bulb in the neck. The fight scenes are sick thanks much to the fact that the lead actor (Iko Uwais as Rama) and one of the lead villains (Yayan Ruhian as Mad Dog) are both fight choreographers and instructors themselves who took on acting roles in this picture. That allows for close-ups and all kinds of nifty camerawork since Evans did not have to worry about stunt doubles. At least not for the key scenes. As Evans mentions in an interview, he gave each stunt performer his own credit rather than lump them into a big list like other films do.

Enhancing the film's powerful presentation is the score from Joe Trapanese and Linkin Park's Mike Shinoda. Having American composers on board certainly makes it more digestible to movies fans on this side of the world and Shinoda's name was no doubt counted on to help attract the core audience of young extreme men from around the world. The Blu-ray has plenty of interviews from Shinoda - maybe too many - as Sony has really used the score as a selling point. Adding to the wackiness are two fascinating shorts - one a fake Japanese TV commercial for an anime version of the film's story, and the other a claymation depiction of the brutal tale, as performed by cats.

Raid features a cast of diverse characters and it succeeds in giving each his own identifiable space. And by 'his' I mean that there are practically no female characters to be found here. The story of a rookie S.W.A.T. team that must infiltrate a 30-story tenement to find and apprehend a ruthless and sadistic crime boss is easy to understand and it could really take place in almost any other big city. So nobody should be surprised that an American remake is already under development at Sony with Evans executive producing, but not directing.

For fans of hard-hitting action films that push the envelope, The Raid Redemption is one not to be missed.

Blu-ray Title: The Raid Redemption

Review by Gitesh Pandya

Run Time: 101 minutes

Sony Pictures Home Entertainment

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