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Movies that traffic in exaggerated violence have been known to serve up smorgasbords of brutally intense fun.

Rama kicks a man when he's down
Rama kicks a man when he’s down

The Raid: Redemption, a film set in an Indonesian tenement and directed by Welsh-born Gareth Huw Evans, has some of the desired intensity, but comes up way short in the fun department.

Blame the movie’s non-stop action, which tends to feel as numbing and meaningless as a routine story in which an elite SWAT team invades a shabby apartment building run by an Indonesian drug lord. I have no martial arts knowledge, but I do know that The Raid: Redemption delivers a pounding that often feels more relentless than artful.

Rama (Iko Uwais) — the movie’s ostensible main character — is a young cop who bids his pregnant wife farewell on an early morning, and heads off to join his fellow officers for the raid.

The object: to take down Tama (Ray Sahetapy), the calm but vicious drug lord who runs the hotel/apartment complex which serves as headquarters for the drug trade and which also houses a few innocents who have nothing to do with criminal activity.

Judging by the increasingly shattered look of the already dilapidated building, the residents of will be lucky to make it out alive, much less get their damage deposits back.

The screenplay tries for a little depth, adding bits of story involving betrayal and brotherly conflict, but all that really counts here is the floor-by-floor battle for turf.

As is the case with many martial arts movies, bodies are abused in ways that defy every thing we know about human flesh and bone. At one point, a man’s head repeatedly is smashed into a concrete floor. Rather than being carted off to the morgue, the fellow rises to resume fighting.

No one expects total verisimilitude in movies as wild as this, but it’s difficult to locate a rooting interest amid Raid’s highly compressed blur of bullets and flying bodies. For all its amped-up violence, Raid Redemption offers far too little invigorating kick.

  • Nathan A: I respectfully disagree with this review. The fight scenes in this film were groundbreaking and creative. There is enough realism in the scenery and the characters to give the film the "kick" to make it entertaining. When you compare a film like this to say Michael Bay's Transformers, it puts it to shame when you know they had about 1 tenth the budget to make this, and produced such an entertaining movie. Certainly a film like this is not everyone's taste, but it is arguably well made action. Its an nice break from much of the tripe in theatres today that passes for film making. Be warned though, the violence in this movie would be too much for some folks. April 22, 2012 reply
  • Leo L: well said, Nathan A. The fight choreography, camera choices and editing make this brutal ballet a martial arts masterwork, the kind of film budding action directors and editors should study. It's true the film falls short on plot and characterization -- and one would hope Evans' interest will grow in these departments -- but for all its fever pitch, it maintains a sense of hyper-realism (think Die Hard) that works, and it is one rollercoaster of a ride, which is all it was meant to be. One can only hope that one day, Evans finds a script like The French Connection. April 22, 2012 reply
  • dini: U said : I have no martial arts knowledge, but I do know that The Raid: Redemption delivers a pounding that often feels more relentless than artful.

    that's actually the big difference between you and those who love this movie and know everything about martial arts as they find this movie very artful.

    I couldn't agree more with you to say that this movie seems to be relentless, but ... to be fair I'd better see this movie in term of violence rather than watching Kill Bill ... (sounds funny to you I guess)

    Speaking of being relentless I find Uma Thurman or other characters in Kill Bill are way more relentless that Iko dealing with the bad guys.

    Some are fail to find that the relentless violence in Kill Bill is actually way more extreme comparing to The Raid ... Why? because Kill Bill delivers two movies with probably the same amounts of violence with The Raid ... it doesn't look violent because audience still have time to take a break ... while they can't do that when watching The Raid ....

    But ... who is more relentless ... a cop who is trapped in the middle of war (just put it as a war, ok) that the only options he can choose is only to kill or being killed ...Or a woman who seek for revenge by killing all of her enemies, while on the other hand she actually has options not to do it ... who has more evil mind comparing those character

    I'm not saying that The Raid is better than Kill Bill ... but speaking of violence ... Tarantino's movies have all that. Some might argue by saying "Yes but the way Tarantino did is just more graceful, artful, and beautiful" ... then I will argue "Who can tell the most beautiful woman in the world?" ... it's all about personal's taste.

    So, with all my respect, if you say that The Raid is bad because it's super-violent ... then u are being naive, because many movies serves violence too ... (no matter how the director made it).

    But, if you say that The Raid is bad because it has no plot, no good acting skill, etc ... than we can discuss more about it. April 23, 2012 reply
  • dini: Sorry ... my English sucks ... English is pretty much not mine. Wish I could write much better in this comment ... :) April 23, 2012 reply