Wednesday, 15 August 2012

THE RAID: REDEMPTION (now on Blu-Ray and DVD from Alliance Films) - Review By Greg Klymkiw - Gareth Huw Evans is the real thing. Christopher Nolan and all the other ham-fisted directors could learn more than a few tricks from this mad, meticulous filmmaker.

The Raid: Redemption (2011) dir: Gareth Huw Evans

Starring: Iko Uwais, Joe Taslim, Donny Alamsyah, Yayan Ruhian, Pierre Gruno, Ray Sahetapy


Review By Greg Klymkiw

I've got a great idea! Surprisingly (or not-so surprisingly), Christopher Nolan was the chief inspiration for the proverbial lightbulb blinking above my noggin. Here's my revelation:

Deep six everybody who can't direct action and/or suspense and replace them with Gareth Huw Evans. In fact, I'd go so far as suggesting that every action movie ever made from here on in needs to be directed by Gareth Huw Evans. Well, actually, we'll leave John Woo, Sam Raimi and a handful of others alone, but the rest can don netted wife-beater shirts, spandex shorts and a fashionable (but equally practical) pair of shoes to beat the pavement in a suitable neighbourhood to turn tricks for in-the-closet married johns.

After a promising feature debut with the sicko thriller Footsteps in 2006 and the kick-ass sophomore effort Merantau in 2009, Gareth Huw Evans, the plucky Welsh director has "Top of the world, Ma!" written all over him. This guy's going to keep delivering the goods until he goes out in a blaze of glory.

Clearly indebted to the influence of John Woo, Sam Peckinpah and some of the great Shaw Brothers martial arts classics, but with his own additional flavour of relentless style, Gareth Huw Evans is, no doubt, one of the most astonishing talents to break into the motion picture temple of those men who hold forth the torches of genre genius.

Every neck snap, bone cruch, gunshot, machete hack and explosion in The Raid: Redemption is imbued with narrative propulsion, mind-blowing bravura and often, suspense strung so tight one is waiting for something within one's own viscera to snap. After three viewings (at TIFF 2011's Midnight Madness, theatrically and now on Blu-Ray), my delight and excitement has not diminished.

The screenplay by Evans is deceptively simple - a Jakarta SWAT team invades a huge, blasted-out apartment building to make their way, floor by floor, to get to the very top in order to take out a powerful dirtbag crime lord. Along the way, they meet any number of lowlife scum buckets and eradicate them with zeal.

Eventually, even the SWAT team is no match for the army of trained killers that besiege them from every nook, cranny and apartment. A handful of the cops remain and must decide whether to continue ever-upwards to finish the mission or make their way down to get out. Either way, death seems inevitable for some, if not all of the boys in special-ops black.

That's pretty much it, but Evans injects a few welcome narrative touches that add an element of humanity to the otherwise savage proceedings. Firstly, the hero of the picture Rama (Iko Uwais) is given just enough flesh for us to desperately root for him. We pretty much hope this rookie will survive in order to see his loving wife give birth to their first child, to fulfill a pact he's made with his father, to save as many of his colleagues as humanly possible and, of course, take out the head honcho.

Evans also delivers a simple, but effective element of duality to the good and evil sides of the equation so we get a nice Woo/Peckinpah-like dose of sentimental male bonding.

Iko Uwais is not only a terrific actor (whom the camera loves big time) but he's one of the world's leading practitioners of the ever-so heart-stopping form of Indonesian martial arts, silat. Yup, it involves all the great hand and foot action you'd expect from a martial art, but also blends the sickening, stomach churning and dazzling use of blades - blades of all sorts: knives, swords, machetes - some of which are equipped with the most carnage-inflicting serrated edges imaginable.

Uwais also choreographs the action - all of which is performed by a seemingly endless number of expert practitioners of silat. Needless to say, there is plenty of blood.

Happily, Evans captures every single action set piece with both the approach and precision of a true Master. He hangs the camera back and lets the choreography dictate the pace. He uses closeups, dollies and cuts judiciously. Nothing is sloppy, jagged or out of place in the horrible herky-jerky fashion employed by virtually every mainstream director who indulges in action scenes. His sense of geography is impeccable and there's no annoying Christopher Nolan-styled bombast-over-DNA-hardwired-directorial-virtuosity.

The story, though simple - perhaps because of its wise simplicity - always moves forward and most importantly, the action is not only there for suspense and thrills, but to hammer us ever-closer to the inevitable ultimate showdown.

There are times when the movie is so sickeningly violent, you'll feel like averting your eyes. You won't though. You might be missing something you've never seen before.

"The Raid: Redemption" is available on a great Bluray transfer replete with a bevy of excellent extra featues from Alliance Films. It's also available on DVD, but why bother?"

Action fans will definitely want to own "The Raid: Redemption" and perhaps some of Evans's other films "Merantau" and "Footsteps". Feel free to order from the Amazon links below and you'll be assisting with the maintenance of this site.