Foreign film The Raid: Redemption, one of our Most Anticipated Movies of 2012, is easily the best action movie this year so far and arguably the best martial arts one in years. Coming from Indonesia with very high intensity despite a very low budget, The Raid showcases the country’s native martial arts style, called pencat silat, in a furious flurry of machetes and machine guns. Heart-poundingly brutal and gripping, The Raid: Redemption would have been an epic video game.
That’s not to say it was as ridiculous or lighthearted as say, Lockout, because The Raid is definitely neither. Prior to watching it, I wasn’t familiar with pencat silat at all, but the only ridiculous thing to me was the tendency of bad guys to announce their incoming first attacks with primal screams and yelling. Besides giving the good guys chances to parry or block, why do they do that? I thought Asians were stealthy.
The basic plot is like an awesome video game. The Raid follows a tactical force of 20 policemen as they attempt to work their way up 30 floors of a druglord’s heavily guarded apartment building in the slums. Yes, there will be blood. The violent action-travaganza is sure to stir up comparisons to Thailand’s Ong Bank franchise (star Iko Uwais is probably headed to stardom similar to that of Tony Jaa), but I don’t think I’ve seen such a great action film with significant martial arts since the parkour-based French film District B13 (ignore the disappointing sequel).
On top of jaw-dropping action, The Raid: Redemption features a couple of memorable villains played by Yayan Ruhian and Ray Sahetapy and an often riveting score by Mike Shinoda (of Linkin Park) and Joseph Trapanese. There’s no extra scene during or after the credits, but The Raid is the beginning of a planned trilogy, and there’s already talk of a Hollywood remake. No surprise there, but I can’t wait for the sequels. The Raid: Redemption gets 4 out of 5 stars or B+ or Great.