Thursday, April 17, 2014

A Ghoul Versus The Raid: Redemption

Turn down for WHAT?!”

I had never heard of the Raid: Redemption before two weeks ago, probably because I was dead when it came out originally. Two weeks ago I was watching television and saw a trailer for a movie called the Raid 2, which looked like about the coolest thing ever.

I figured I better catch up on the rest of the series, so I went online to buy the Raid 1. I found the Raid: Redemption, but figured that must be a side story so I kept looking. But it turned out Redemption is the first movie, despite having a subtitle that indicates it wouldn't be.

The story behind this is the Raid is an Indonesian film released in 2011 under the title Serbuan Maut (the Raid). When it was picked up by Sony for an international release, they couldn't get the rights to the name “the Raid”, so they added the subtitle “Redemption”.

I know Hollywood is legally only allowed to use the subtitles Redemption, Revelations, Awakenings, Revenge, and Resurrection in their movies, so why choose that one? The Raid: Awakenings would have made so much more sense. But at least they're numbering the sequel, which is more than I can say about most damn movies these days.

Rant over, let's get a taste of Indonesian action with A Ghoul Versus The Raid: Redemption!

The film opens in Jakarta, Indonesia as we meet our hero, Rama, who begins his day by praying and working out. His kisses his pregnant wife goodbye, assuring her he'll come back to her. He also meets with his father, promising to “bring him back”.

Rama is a rookie police officer who has signed up for a SWAT mission to arrest Tama Riyadi, a very dangerous crime lord. He's holed up in a building that the police have been avoiding for a decade, as Tama rents out rooms to very dangerous criminals.  The twenty man team is led by Sergeant Jaka, who details their mission.

To show us how dangerous Tama is, we see him in the building executing four men. He runs out of bullets before he can shoot a fifth, opting to go with a hammer. His right hand men, Andi and Mad Dog, look on and reflect Hammer Time was a lot less painful in the nineties.

The team arrives near the building, where Lieutenant Wahyu (who organized the mission) is waiting for them. They come across one of the non-criminal tenants of the building, a man who just wants to bring medicine to his sick wife in apartment 726. They take him with, Jaka ordering Rama to stick to him like glue.

They go through the first four floors, securing the building room by room and restraining the criminals. Things go awry on the fifth floor, as a teenage lookout spots them and runs to alert his friend. Wahyu shoots him, but not before he warns his friend.  Jaka, enraged at Wahyu for killing the kid, chases the kid to the sixth floor but is unable to stop him from yelling “Police!” into an intercom.

Tama is on the other end of the intercom, in his office full of monitors tied to cameras all over the building. He orders the building locked down, as well as arranging for two snipers to set up shop in the building over to take out any police they see. He also cuts the lights on the sixth floor, which the civilian (named Gofar in the subtitles) takes as an opportunity to run back to his apartment.

Jaka calls the team on the lower floors, getting no response as Tama's men have killed them all. He wants Wahyu to call in backup, but learns no one knows of their mission so there will be no backup. Frustrated, Jaka looks around and notices almost the entire team is suddenly wearing Red Shirts. This is not going to end well...

Moments later gunmen from a few floors up open fire, killing almost all of the police. At least I think that's what happens, this scene is REALLY dark and hard to see what's going on. Back in Tama's office, Andi is upset they opened fire on the cops as this will draw reinforcements. Tama assures him there will be none because he knows the true nature of this mission, while looking ominously at Wahyu on a security monitor.  The survivors fall back to an apartment, barricading themselves in. Rama gets the idea to take an ax and chop through to the floor below, where they get attacked by some thugs but easily dispatch them.

Before they can chop their way to the next floor down, one of the cops (Bowo) gets shot several times. As thugs begin shooting through the door, Rama gets the idea to make a homemade bomb out of a propane tank, a fridge, and a grenade to take them out, which is every bit as awesome as it sounds. Your move, MacGyver.

Tama orders Mad Dog and Andi down there to deal with the situation. Mad Dog sends two thugs to go along with Andi, which really upsets him for some reason.  Hearing more thugs coming down to the bombed out room, Rama and Bowo head back up to the previous floor, while Jaka, Wahyu, and a cop named Dagu escape down the hallway.

Rama and Bowo head to the apartment where Gofar lives, Rama sure he'll help them. On the way they get ambushed by a gang and a PHENOMENAL fight erupts. Armed with a nightstick and a tactical knife, Rama kicks extreme ass and stabs many a throat on his way to a scene that has more action than the entire run time of the movies Hitman and Max Payne combined.

They make it to the apartment, Gofar letting them in despite his wife's pleas to not get involved. They hide in a hollowed out wall as Tama's thugs burst into the room to search it. Manua, a rather Genre Savvy machete wielding thug, starts stabbing the wall to see if anyone's in it. Rama and Bowo manage to evade detection, the thugs leaving to search the other apartments.  We catch up with Andi in the two thugs in an elevator, Andi taking out a knife and killing both of them. Someone's not a team player!

Rama leaves Bowo in the apartment and exits into the hallway where he soon gets into a fight with Manua and his men. Another epic fight breaks out, this one ending with Rama using Manua as a cushion as he jumps out a window onto a fire escape. The snipers shoot at him but he's able to duck into a window to avoid their fire. He's now on the sixth floor, wandering through the hallway in a dazed state as he's very battered from the last fight. Memories of his pregnant wife give him the strength to keep going, as suddenly Andi emerges from a door and grabs him.

We cut to Jaka's team, who are looking for Rama and Bowo. They get attacked by Mad Dog and his men, Wahyu running off. Jaka orders Dagu to protect him as he enters a face off with Mad Dog. Sadly he doesn't fare as well as Rama did in his encounters, as Mad Dog kills him by breaking his neck.

Rama and Andi talk as we learn Andi is his brother and that Rama signed up for this mission to bring him back home. Andi says this is where he belongs and he won't leave, even after he learns he's going to be an uncle in two months.

Andi goes out to make sure the coast is clear for Rama to leave, running into Mad Dog who is dragging Jaka's body behind him. They get into an elevator and return to Tama. Rama soon meets up with Wahyu and Dagu, planning to capture Tama to get them out of the building. Wahyu tells him Tama's office is on the fifteenth floor.  At said office, Tama shows Andi footage of him helping Rama. Busted!

The three cops battle their way through a drug lab, Rama finding Mad Dog torturing a chained up Andi in a side room. Mad Dog frees Andi, and we have ourselves a two on one fight... and yet Mad Dog STILL has the advantage.

Wahyu and Dagu shoot their way into Tama's office, Dagu handcuffing the crime lord. However Wahyu throws a wrench into everything by shooting Dagu in the face, revealing himself to be one of the corrupt cops Tama was paying off. Although this is fairly obvious early on, it was still pretty shocking to see how evil Wahyu really was.

The Rama and Andi vs. Mad Dog war rages on, Andi grabbing a piece of a broken fluorescent tube and stabbing Mad Dog in the throat. And Mad Dog STILL kicks their asses despite this! Rama finally wins by breaking Mad Dog's arms and using the tube to SLASH his throat open while Andi holds him down. Damn, this was deliciously brutal. This movie is a work of finely crafted art.

Rama and Andi head up the stairs, running into Tama and Wahyu, who shoots at them. Tama mentions a man named Reza, which causes Wahyu to freeze up. Tama reveals he knew about the raid from the beginning and that the whole thing was a setup to kill Wahyu who has apparently overstepped his bounds with the other corrupt cops.

He says even if Wahyu kills him now, the cops will just kill him later on. Broken, Wahyu kills Tama anyway and then goes to shoot himself. However he's out of bullets, so he just stands there as Rama and Andi walk towards him.  We get a montage wrap up, with Andi giving Rama all of Tama's evidence on the dirty cops. He also tells him to seek out Bunawar, who is a good cop.

Rama and Bowo, with Wahyu in tow, get escorted by Andi to the exit. Rama asks Andi to come with him again, but Andi says he belongs here as the movie ends.

Cue the credits.

I'll get this out of the way first: the movie has almost no character development or story whatsoever. Ironically, pretty much any story stuff is just a teaser for the sequel. The movie is pretty much an hour and a half long fight scene.

Does that hurt the movie then? OH HELL NO! This movie embraces what it is, so it does everything perfect. The fighting is just insane, and even more importantly, is filmed properly. You can see everything that's going on, to the point where you FEEL every single punch or kick or stab. This is easily the best action I've seen in a movie in years, it's even original feeling with how they approach it with usage of weapons and environmental hazards.

As long as you're looking for some intense and original action, I give this an absolute must see. If you want anything deeper than that, steer WAY clear.