Saturday, 24 March 2012
The Raid Redemption
Starring: Iko Uwais, Ananda George, Ray Sahetapy
By Alan Bacchus
The influence for this picture is clear, the final scene in John Woo’s Hard Boiled, the hospital scene, a 20mins long siege/blow out extravaganza of monumental proportions - often regarded as the greatest action sequence ever filmed. The Raid, the acclaimed actioner which wowed genre audiences at TIFF, Sundance and SXSW, takes inspiration from Woo’s final scene and applies it to his entire movie. It makes for an action movie for the ages, combining the great gunplay of John Woo and the super aggressive realistic hand-to-hand combat of Tony Jaa.
The simplicity of the set up is awesome. A Jakarta police Swat team raiding a Indonesian drug lord’s lair, a 30 story building inhabited by bad ass thugs, martial arts experts and whole lot of heavy machinery and fire power.
We become invested in two hero characters: Rama, a rookie cop who has a pregnant wife at home, which means every bullet that passes his way could make his wife a widow and his child fatherless. These are the stakes. The other hero, the team leader who runs into conflict with a shifty-eyed G-man who seems to have his own agenda in the raid. Of the baddies, the maniacal leader is Tama, a sadistic criminal who revels in death, destruction and torture and takes every shot at him like Tony Montana at the end of Scarface. His number one hit man Mad Dog does the barking for him, a lethal weapon who will eventually face off with Rama in the end.
There’s a few twists and turns in the story, which is not quite plotted out to our satisfaction. With so much fist flying, bone breaking and bullet squibbing going on, it’s virtually impossible to get the character dynamics of the narrative right. A somewhat compelling emotional connection between Rama and Mad Dog is revealed, enough to justify the real purpose of the film – the action.
The action is indeed inspired stuff, beginning first as a John Woo style gunplay epic and once everyone’s bullets run out, transitioning to a martial arts beat down. Unfortunately director Evans uses his moves early and by the time the final confrontations happen, we’ve just about seen everybody’s best stuff. And so exhaustion from the onslaught overload inevitably sets in. As such the film doesn’t go out with a bang as Woo’s epic does, it kind of just peters out.
Ironically director Gareth Evans is British but filmed his movie in the Indonesia in their language. Clearly he knows in order to do an action film right these days, he has to do it in Asia with no holds barred.