The Raid: Redemption (Serbuan Maut) Review
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Here in the States, the average mainstream moviegoer tends to have a rather watered-down view of martial arts movies. Thanks in part to the entertaining antics of Jackie Chan, martial arts films have often become silly and slapstick. But there’s nothing silly nor slapstick about the intense martial arts action of director Gareth Evans’s Indonesian martial arts thriller The Raid: Redemption

For years, crime boss Tama (Ray Sahetepy) has controlled a huge, rundown apartment building, filling it with his kind of tenants: thugs, drug dealers, and a variety of other criminals. But the police have finally had enough of Tama’s rule. They’ve sent a young SWAT team on a mission to raid the building and bring Tama down once and for all.

At first, the mission goes surprisingly well—but as the team members work their way through the building, they’re detected by a young spotter. Tama encourages his tenants to fight back—and, as the ruthless crime boss stays safely locked away in a secret control room, he watches as the action plays out around the building.

What once seemed like a dangerous but straightforward mission soon turns into a death trap, as the members of the team are trapped inside Tama’s building, fending off a myriad of brutal attackers.

What follows is a high-octane showdown, as the tools and weapons of the traditional police mission eventually give way to swords and knives and hand-to-hand martial arts combat. The action is non-stop, with violence that’s often so shockingly brutal that you’ll feel each blow in the pit of your stomach as the film moves from one floor to another, from one battle to another, following the dwindling numbers of young officers as they try to battle their way out of the building.

The action sequences are nothing short of jaw-dropping. Though the setting is dark and murky and the action is often shaky and disorienting, the moves are flawlessly choreographed and remarkably well executed. Still, The Raid proves that it’s possible to get too much of a good thing. After a while, these astonishing battles become little more than a monotonous blur of fight scenes, lacking the drama to make them significant. The story introduces just a couple of the main players in the beginning—like the team’s sergeant, Jaka (Joe Taslim), and expectant father Rama (Iko Uwais). It also hints that there’s more going on here than just a straightforward police operation. But it seems that the real story doesn’t begin until the film’s final act—which is right around the time when the constant, bloody violence will start to wear you down.

As a dark and gritty martial arts exhibition, The Raid: Redemption is simply extraordinary—and fans of the fighting style will be absolutely mesmerized. But if you require more than just stunning fight choreography and snippets of story to hold your attention for more than an hour and a half, you might find yourself tuning out.

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