In the heart of Jakarta’s slums lies an impenetrable safe house for the Indonesian most dangerous gangsters. Cloaked under the cover of pre-dawn darkness and silence, an elite SWAT team raids the apartment in order to take down the notorious drug lord. It runs well, until the lord caught them. The building’s lights are then cut and all the exits are blocked. That’s where the slaughter begin. Gangsters in the building versus (just) 20 special polices. The unit must fight their way to survive, and yet, to accomplish their mission.
That’s the synopsis of The Raid: Redemption (Gareth Evans, Indonesia: 2011). Nothing special within the plot, I tell you. The story goes even like a text without context. Suddenly this, immediately that. But the fury is really, really world class action. With a fresh sense of humor in few scenes. Thanks to Gareth Huw Evans for done such masterpiece. After hollow decades, finally Indonesia produced a greatexecuted action, martial arts movie. Such a refreshment among the genre of cheap comedy, horny teen, horror, or what so-called inspirational in Indonesian cineplex.
Before The Raid, Gareth directed Merantau, Indonesian traditional martial arts, pencak silat-based movie. Story set on Sumatra and Jakarta’s today, with Iko Uwais, a silat practitioner and newcomer in showbiz, as the main role. Iko Uwais played the main role too in The Raid.
For both movies, the picture was shot in Bukit Tinggi (West Sumatra) and Jakarta. It’s a long period of production. Huge budget too. But it paid off. Merantau was previewed internationally through Festival de Cannes 2009. Meanwhile, The Raid became a box office in US, won Audience Award and Dublin Film Critics Award in 2012 Dublin International Film Festival. Few months before, The Raid won also People’s Choice Award in 2011 Toronto International Film Festival.
I don’t really like Merantau. But The Raid rocks! You can figure out how far is Gareth-Iko’s improvement only by watching the two trailers above. Merantau actions similar to Jackie Chan’s “parkours”. And the fighting technique reminds me of Tony Jaa’s muay thai. I can’t hardly see where the pencak silat’s sense is.
However, you must know that Gareth, the writer-director from the Wales, isn’t newbie in pencak silat domain. He has known this Indonesian martial art since 2005. Gareth even made a documentary film about it.
For your information, pencak silat is a grappling and standing fight at the same time. It’s originated from Indonesia. Like an MMA (Mix Martial Art) which keeps on evolve. So no wonder if there are similarities with other martial arts. Elbow-knee’s attack à la muay thai, lock-antilock à la jiu jitsu, punch-kick à la kung fu, and so on. Especially with muay thai that was born in South-east Asia too.
In The Raid, the pencak silat element is even more fading. All you see is fights, blades and bullets. The good ones, though. The Raid (I think it will be trilogy) is a must see movie, especially if you love action and thriller. But I warn you, this is an adult movie due to its violence scenes. So, never bring the child in front of the screen. It should be only you and people like you who watch this movie.
Ready? Ok, let’s raid then!
NB: Hey, there’s also a score by Mike Shinoda of Linking Park.