Ten years ago, Gareth Evans’ The Raid: Redemption shook me awake. Especially the part where I narrowly dodged an angry rumble before halftime.
When the film was released in the US in 2012, I was limited to what was showing at my multiplex in suburban New Jersey. Played cable channels Broken Arrow or Die Hard on repeat. My action film vocabulary mirrored popular culture, and that was 2012 the Expendables. Don’t get me wrong – Sylvester Stallone, Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme and other ace-kicker icons claim to be masters of foot-and-fist combat. but the Expendables, for better or worse, represents everything that US audiences crave in their blockbusters. Point the gun, inhale cigar smoke, pull the trigger, exhale a witty reply to a cold corpse.
I knew action movies could be more than bulging biceps and gun smoke—my father’s sixth-degree black belt certification in taekwondo meant a household with an appreciation for martial arts. And yet American bullets shoot out rambo to Smoking aces worshiped the manliness of Stallone guys or fully loaded gunfights. They still do. The Raid: Redemption introduced Indonesia’s hyperspeed”Pencak silat” Art form as an antidote to mountains of muscle throwing each other through concrete pillars.
The Raid: Redemption lulls viewers into a deceptive familiarity as Brimob special forces infiltrate an apartment block to arrest crime boss Tama Riyadi (Ray Sahetapy). Rookie Rama (Iko Uwais) falls behind Sergeant Jaka (Joe Taslim) as they reach the sixth floor, then all hell breaks loose. The ratata of emptying magazines is recognizable – until assault rifles fall silent. Uwais and co-star Yayan Ruhian (“Mad Dog” villain) shine as the film’s main fight choreographers slack off and differentiate themselves The Raid: Redemption
What did this international pulverizer do to a matinee slot in my mall AMC? Uwais’ slashes and punches flew faster than a sniper’s bullet. Combinations of broken limbs and punctured carotid arteries moved with unheard-of force, heralding the pageantry of corporal punishment beyond grunts, body slams, and impositions to judge by their size. “I never like to use [guns]. It takes the hassle out. Pulling the trigger is like ordering food,” Mad Dog spat out at one point. I can still see Ruhian’s grin as he laughs at American action stars hiding behind stacks of M-16s and .44 Magnum revolvers.
My heart was beating faster than Ruhian’s feet could dart. I knew I would never forget my first viewing of The Raid: Redemption, for how can one repeat such an experience?
A more thematic viewing environment could not be staged The Raid: Redemption. I burst into an empty theater alongside my film major buddy. We were centre-right, no stadium layout, number 250 seats? A group of teenagers munching snacks and arguing about kickflips or whatever sat in the back left. Finally, a jacked welterweight looking stud stalked in with his girlfriend and they dropped in front, split between me and these rowdy hooligans. The pieces lay on the board.
From an early age, the teenagers were chatting and looking bored. I paid no attention as Rama and Jaka surreptitiously pushed their way through the Indonesian slums. Then I spied tiny objects lagging behind the absolute unit whose biceps were bigger than my thigh. A look back revealed the youngsters were trying to provoke the beast in a tapout t-shirt.
Tension mounted on the screen as Riyadi’s spotters sounded the alarm. Bodies began to fall around Rama until only a few officers remained and the gunfire stopped. Rama, Jaka and others relied on Pencak-Silat, where Agent 47 would have looted for more pistol clips. After this point The Raid: Redemption
Tension built in our theater as projectiles of popcorn ricocheted around the respectfully recessed grappler – from an impressive distance, to be honest. His head swiveled in the direction of the children, and I noticed them duck behind the seats out of his sight. I giggled because c’mon those idiots couldn’t keep this up for much longer. The combatant drew attention back to the film while Rama ducked for cover (much like the cackling brats).
Soon it was raining snack artillery again. What I didn’t realize – but probably happened – was while I was being hyped The Raid: Redemption, Mr. Bust Your Lip counted my friend and I among the only other guests. No one else could interrupt his appointment with the cinema during the day. Then his companion took a “puff” on a piece of popcorn. She got angry. The gloves are off.
The guy who might as well have been Georges St. Pierre Jr. was shot out of his seat as Rama started hailing the absolute snot out of Riyadi’s army. He yelled something like this, his jugular veins bursting at two movie dweebs (us): “I’m gonna kick the f***ing shit out of you two if you don’t stop right now!” I gestured at the troublemakers as they stared at the Exit doors stormed. It was pointless because this guy tried to tap me in the middle The Raid: Redemption
Obviously we would have been smashed like The Hulk treating Loki like a stuffed animal. That’s the magic of the adrenaline rush The Raid: Redemption, though – it amplifies its crowd to dangerous levels. Punches and kicks don’t just fly like in a Street Fighter game. A mind-blowing two-on-one climax pitting Rama and brother Andi (Donny Alamsyah) against Mad Dog brings every performer to the sweaty-dizzy brink for five uninterrupted minutes of unarmed action-bliss, defying the pain limits that human bodies can withstand. . My mission was to look for future titles such as Headshot, The night comes for us, and escape from prison as American publications like mile 22 went on to castrate Uwais’ talents alongside bulky Mark Wahlberg types. How a filmmaker could line up Uwais against an American-grown bruise and have him toss him around like sacks of potatoes is mindless. Such a waste of the unique skills Uwais can bring to an overseas role.
I will never forget The Raid: Redemption because it opened up my world to global action agencies that are now helping to shape American franchises like John Wick. Maybe I would feel the same even if there were no threats of hospitalization for the duration of the film – but maybe not. 4DX blows fog at your face to recreate the feeling of rain; I had an Ultimate Fighter contestant trying to be the Joe Taslim for my Steve Rogers before the superhero serum. This year it celebrates its 10th anniversary, The Raid: Redemption was my unintentional introduction to interactive cinema, and it almost started my first real fight. If there is a higher power, they have a murderous sense of humor.