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The Raid: Redemption – Unrated Edition (a J!-ENT Blu-ray Disc Review)

August 4, 2012 by  



When it comes to a martial arts film with non-stop action, I will admit that “The Raid: Redemption” is a pulse-pounding, exciting action film and I have to agree… it is one of the better action film that I have seen within the last decade and yes, this year.  Gareth Evans and crew were able to utilize what they had, with what small budget and equipment they had at the time and they succeeded in creating such a fantastic, kick ass, all-action film!

Images courtesy of © 2012 PT.Merantau Films. All Rights Reserved.

TITLE: The Raid: Redemption – Unrated Edition

TELEFILM RELEASE: 2012

DURATION: 101 Minutes

BLU-RAY DISC INFORMATION: 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 aspect ratio), English DTS-HD Master Audio, Portuguese, Spanish (Castilian and Latin) 5.1 Dolby Digital, Subtitles: English, English SDH, Portuguese, Spanish (Castilian and Latin)

COMPANY: Sony Pictures Home Entertainment, Sony Pictures Classics, Stage 6

RATED: UNRATED

Release Date: August 14, 2012

Written and Directed by Gareth Evans

Produced by Gareth Evans, Ario Sagantori

Executive Producer: Rangga Maya Barack-Evans, Nate Volotin, Todd Brown, Irwan D. Musry

Music by Mike Shinoda and Joseph Trapanese, Aria PRayogi, Fajar Yuskemal

Cinematography by Matt Flannery

Edited by Gareth Evans

Starring:

Iko Uwais as Rama

Joe Taslim as Jaka

Donny Alamsyah as Andi

Yayan Ruhian as Mad Dog

Piere Gruno as Wahyu

Ray Sahetapy as Tama

Tegar Satrya as Bowo

Lang Darmawan as Gofar

Eka “Piranha” Rahmadia as Dagu

Verdi Solaiman as Budi

Deep in the heart of Jakarta’s slums lies an impenetrable safe house for the world’s most dangerous killers and gangsters. Until now, the rundown apartment block has been considered untouchable. Cloaked under the cover of pre-dawn darkness and silence, an elite swat team is tasked with raiding the safe house in order to take down the notorious drug lord that runs it. But when a chance encounter with a spotter blows their cover and news of their assault reaches the drug lord, they find themselves stranded on the 6th floor with no way out. The unit must fight their way through the city’s worst to survive their mission.

For Welsh filmmaker Gareth Evans, he grew up watching Hong Kong action films and loving films featuring Jet Li and Jackie Chan.

Having been based in Indonesia, Evans wanted to bring Indonesian martial arts, known as pencak silat, into the world of cinema and he would do just that in 2009 working with actor and Pencak Silat expert Iko Uwais in the film “Merantau”.

The film would gain a lot of attention from audiences at South by Southwest (SXSW) in Texas and eventually win “Best Film Award” at Action Fest 2010.

So, Evans and Uwais collaborated for an even bigger project known as “The Raid” (a.k.a. “The Raid: Redemption in the U.S.) in 2011.  Originally planning a large scale prison gang film, the film proved to be too complex and time consuming, but most importantly too expensive. So, a plan for creating a SWAT team taking on drugdealers became the main storyline that Evans would focus on.

With a smaller budget, Evans worked about four months in finalizing the script, having translated from English to Indonesian and working with Iko Uwais and Yayan Ruhian in developing the choreography.   Actors that made up the SWAT team were sent to bootcamp military training with KOPASKA (the premier frogman and underwater demolition unity of the Indonesian Navy) and learned how to use the basics of weaponry, strategic attacks and defensive techniques.

After the film was created, Sony Pictures Worldwide acquired the distribution rights and brought it Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park along with Joseph Trapanese (“Traitor, “Tron: Legacy” and “Tron: Uprising”) to create the new musical score for  the film.

Since the film’s screening at various film festivals, “The Raid: Redemption” has received rave reviews as one of the best action films created not only in 2012 but also within the last decade.

And now “The Raid: Redemption” will be released via an unrated edition on August 14, 2012.

“The Raid: Redemption – Unrated Edition” begins with Rama (as portrayed by Iko Uwais) being called in for a a SWAT assignment.  He is a loving husband and his wife is seven months pregnant.

We are then introduced to an apartment building ran by Tama Riyadi (as portrayed by Ray Sahetapy), the merciless drug lord who runs the apartment building with an iron first.  We watch as he executes four men with a pistol in point-blank range and the final man that he bludgeons with a hammer.

We are then taken to a briefing inside a van by Sgt. Jaka (as portrayed by Joe Taslim).  He has received orders from Lt. Wahyu (as portrayed by Pierre Gruno) that the SWAT team will go into Jakarta’s slum area and penetrate the apartment building that is run by Tama Riyadi.  The apartment building is a safehouse for murderers, drug dealers and gangsters and Riyadi and his men have virtually been untouched by other gangs and including police because it is so well-guarded.

But under direct orders, 20 SWAT team members will infiltrate and raid the building to capture Tama Riyadi and any murderers, drug dealers and gang members.  The SWAT team joins Lt. Wahyu and go to infiltrate the building.

Starting from the ground floor, the SWAT team members are able to infiltrate the first five floors with success and having arrested and tied up many of the gang members housed inside the building.  But when they reach the sixth floor, they see child coming out of the bathroom.  Sgt. Jaka tells the boy not to move, but the boy runs and yells to a spotter that police are inside the building.  As the SWAT team rushes to mobilize and prevent anyone from sending communications back to Tama Riyadi, it is too late.

The gang members have sealed the building, are armed and dangerous and prepared to kill all SWAT team members.  Pinned down, the gangsters slaughter many of the SWAT team members.   Sgt. Jaka tells Lt. Wahyu to call for help as they are outmanned and outgunned but he and the SWAT team quickly learn that the mission has been unauthorized by Lt. Wahyu and no help will be coming.

With cameras all over the place, Tama Riyadi knows that help is not coming for the SWAT team and he sends his right hand man Andi (as portrayed by Donny Alamsyah) and “Mad Dog” (as portrayed by Yayan Ruhian) to get their men ready to kill all surviving SWAT team members.

With the majority of the SWAT team members killed, rookies Rama and the injured Bowo (as portrayed by Tegar Satrya) are separated away from Sgt. Jaka, Lt. Wahyu and Dagu (as portrayed by Eka “Piranha” Rahmadia).  With only a few of them still alive and nowhere to escape, they have only one choice and that is to make it to the 15th floor where Tama Riyadi is located.  But will they be able to make it up that far with everyone in the building now going after them?

VIDEO:

“The Raid: Redemption – Unrated Edition” is presented in 1080p High Definition (1:78:1 aspect ratio).  It’s important to remember that the film was low budget and shot with a Panasonic AF100.  While the AF100 is a very good video camcorder optimized for HD video, one can’t expect too much from this low budget film.  But with that being said, while the picture quality may not be the best for the videophile as it does have banding issues and because it is shot indoors most of the time with scenes with lighting to little lighting, it is what it is.  It’s not a vibrant film but picture quality is good but not great!

AUDIO & SUBTITLES:

“The Raid: Redemption – Unrated Edition” is presented in Indonesian/Bahasa and English 5.1 DTS-HD MA and Portuguese, Spanish (Latin and Castilian) 5.1 Dolby Digital.  Once again, this film is low budget but on the good side, Sony did bring in Mike Shinoda to revamp the musical score (you have a choice of selecting the original or Shinoda’s musical score), so the new digital music score does sound good through the front and surround channels.  The bad side is that for a film that does utilize a ton of gunfire, it would have been great to incorporate a more immersive soundscape and directional sounds with bullets whizzing from one end to the other.

Gareth Evans is still a filmmaker playing multiple hats in the film as director and editor but I hope for his next film, he does take advantage of lossless audio and making it more immersive.  Granted, I understand this film is a low budget and because of that, the lossless soundtrack is good, but it could have been better.

As for the acting, I prefer watching foreign language films in their own language but for those who hate reading subtitles, will be happy to know that this Blu-ray release does come with an English dub.

Subtitles are in English, English SDH, Portuguese, Spanish (Latin and Castilian).

SPECIAL FEATURES

“The Raid: Redemption – Unrated Edition” comes with the following special features:

  • Audio Commentary – Featuring audio commentary by writer and director Gareth Evans.
  • Behind the Scenes Video Blogs – (39:32) Featuring the following mini-features: Bootcamp, set location, camera and lighting, makeup and special effects, riot van, courtyard, hole drop, drug lab, Tama’s office, machete gang and corridor, John vs. Mad Dog and post-production.
  • An Evening with Gareth Evans, Mike Shinoda and Joe Trapanese – (40:40) Featuring Post-screening footage moderated by Hadrian Belove.  The three answer questions from the moderator and audience regarding the film.
  • Behind the Music with Mike Shinoda and Joe Trapanese – (11:05) How Mike Shinoda and Joe Trapanese were selected to create the musical score and their musical approach to the music for the film.
  • Anatomy of a Scene with Gareth Evans  – (2:15) Gareth Evans talk about the hole drop scene and where it was inspired from.
  • A Conversation with Gareth Evans and Mike Shinoda – (11:30) A conversation between Evans and Shinoda about the hard shoot, score, stunts and themes of the film.
  • Inside the Score – (1:23) Promo for Mike Shinoda’s music involvement with “The Raid: Redemption”.
  • Claycat’s the Raid – (2:56) Featuring claymation stop-motion video utilizing clay animal characters re-enacting scenes from “The Raid: Redemption”.
  • The Raid TV Show Ad (Circa 1994) – (:44) An aged anime style promo for “The Raid”.
  • Theatrical Trailer – (2:06) The theatrical trailer for “The Raid: Redemption”.

Typically when I see soundbytes of a popcorn action film being called “Best Action Film of the Year” or “One of the Best Action Films in the Last Decade”, I am often quite skeptical and try not to expect so much, to prevent myself from being disappointed.

I’ve watched a lot of action films throughout my life, especially martial arts films.  So, when I first heard about “The Raid: Redemption”, I approached the film with interest because it incorporated the martial art style known as Pencak Silat, shot in Indonesia by a Welsh filmmaker and featured music by Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda.   So, it’s an interesting approach as I was not familiar with Gareth Evans work and was wondering why a Welsh filmmaker was in Indonesia and how Mike Shinoda took part in the film.

But I started watching “The Raid: Redemption” and realized this film was going to be violent, possibly bloody and there is going to be a lot of fighting and weapons.  And in some way, it reminded me of older ’80s Shaw Bros. films such as “Hong Kong Godfather”, where the small amount of people who represent the good, take on a large force which consists of the bad.  And for those who have watched enough martial arts films, there is a banality to these martial arts films but its all about execution.

“The Raid: Redemption – Unrated Edition” is an exciting non-stop action film that just keeps coming at you.  Action scene after action scene, you’re just captivated by this fatalistic suicide mission.  It’s one thing to have 20 elite SWAT team members, but it’s another thing to go against dozens of gangsters, drug users that live in the 15+ story apartment building.  You know the body count will be high but you are pulling for the rookie, Rama.  Rama represents the clean cut family man who happens to be a rookie of the SWAT team but also the more reserved member who can kick ass!

The fight scenes showcasing pencak silat is amazing!  What I enjoyed about the approach of fighting choreography for this film is to not having these fight scenes perfectly choreographed.  Mistakes happen, there is no clear edge of who will win and as Iko Uwais who plays the main protagonist Rama was pretty cool in execution, actor Yayan Ruhian who plays the evil “Mad Dog” is amazing.  At first, I thought this was your typical skinny guy with a gun, but instead this guy was showcasing silat movement that is so slick and smooth, you start to realize that this is the guy who will be doing the butt kicking and are not sure any of the good guys including Rama have a chance against him.

But the violent action scenes are intriguing at times, where one stab is not enough, some disable or kill their enemy, may it be an axe to the neck or repeated stabs to the heart, the fight scenes are violent but it fit the moment where these SWAT team people have to use what they can to survive.

But there is an opposite to all this that made me scratch my head at times.  Where we see other SWAT team members using their knives or whatever they have to fight, Rama was one who chose to use his fists instead of the weapons that lie around the ground.  There were times where I was asking myself, is this guy ever going to pick up a weapon on the floor to fight back?  These guys are coming at you with machetes and there are police batons, machetes, guns laying around, is he going to fight back.

Also, when the SWAT team are fighting, you would think that it would be beneficial to them to take the ammunition from fallen SWAT team officers, just in case.  But I had to remind myself that this is a popcorn action film, and not to think so seriously about character motivation or logic.  It’s a popcorn action film meant to to be enjoyed for its action, not a film for one to  think too deeply about situations.

As for the Blu-ray release, there are over a 100 minutes of special features but I noticed that many of them involved Mike Shinoda, which was cool but it would have been cooler to have the Indonesian talent featured as well.  It would have been great to feature more interviews with Iko Iwais, Joe Taslim, Donny Alamsyah, Yayan Ruhian, Pierre Gruno, Ray Sahetapy and more.  As for the picture and audio quality, while I’m sure on DVD, this film would look and sound very good… on Blu-ray, it’s not the most vibrant film and you do experience some banding issues.  And you tend to wish that there was much better sound editing to make this film much more immersive for the audiophiles who expect a lot from action-intense films.

But when it comes to a martial arts film with non-stop action, I will admit that “The Raid: Redemption” is a pulse-pounding, exciting action film and I have to agree… it is one of the better action film that I have seen within the last decade and yes, this year.  Gareth Evans and crew were able to utilize what they had, with what small budget and equipment they had at the time and they succeeded in creating such a fantastic, kick ass, all-action film!

Overall, if you love action films, “The Raid: Redemption – Unrated Edition” is a must-see!






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