Featuring: Iko “Merantau” Uwais , Joe “Fast & Furious 6” Taslim, Doni “Hearts of Freedom” Alamsyah
Writer & Director: Gareth “The Raid 2” Evans
Also Known As: The Raid
Sequel: The Raid 2
Hey kids, it’s me again! Your jackal-in-chief, your podunk punk, your Death God with dad bod, and the founder of the no-pants-on pantheon – Anubis Von Mojo! I wanted to have a heavenly chorus singing “Return of the Mack” here while pyro shoots out of a big top hat on my head, but there wasn’t any room in the World Tour de Farce travel budget for any of it. Speaking of, after that extensive layover in Spain I’m back on the proverbial road a-gain! I’m backtracking just a smidge, having realized that my last telemetry jump overshot Indonesia and put my ass in Malaysia instead. Remind me to kill that Stargate operator when I get back. Making the best (or moderately better than worst) of the situation, well, you saw my Apokalips X review. And if you didn’t, rewind 6 or 7 episodes and treat it like halitosis: Scope it! Where was I? That’s right, Indonesia. Here’s some quick trivia on the island nation. We’re still applying for some of Uncle Sam’s sweet educational stipend money, so there will be a quiz at the end of the review. As such, eyes front and mouths shut!
For sharters, errrr starters, Indonesia is the FOURTH most visited country in the world, and the LARGEST congregation of islands, consisting of 17,800 individual isles! Yes, that’s a comma and NOT a decimal. Indonesians laugh when you present them a bottle of Thousand Island dressing. Like Ron Jeremy’s dick laughing at whatever Andy Dick’s dick looks like. It’s no surprise that half the islands haven’t even been named yet. Shit, someone put me in touch with Indonesia’s Department of Naming and for the reasonable price of just $1 per island, I’ll have 9,000 names for ya by the end of the month! Speaking of geographical milestones, Indonesia has more active volcanoes than any other country in the world with 400! Actually, given that they’ve got almost 18,000 islands in their domain, 400 active volcanoes isn’t nearly as impressive a statistic. I mean, sure, 400 is a LOT of volcanoes, but on a per-island basis that’s barely more than 2%, so mentioning the volcano statistic after the island number statistic is kinda like Extreme going on after a 2 hour AC/DC set. Meh.
Indonesia is not only the largest supplier worldwide of liquid natural gas, cloves, nutmeg, and plywood (80% of all plywood, in fact!), but is also home to the largest number of shark species at right around 150 different breeds! You know which shark you can’t find in their waters? The titular man-eater of Raiders of the Lost Shark. Yep, that’s a thing that I just discovered exists and I’m so happy to spread the disease that I had to namedrop it on your collective chests as soon as possible. Continuing on the native fauna kick, Indo also lays claim to the world’s smallest primate (Tarsier Pygmy), the world’s smallest fish (Paedocypris progenetica – “Paedo” to his pals), the world’s longest snake (Python Reticulates), and the world’s only living “dragon” (Komodo, named for the island they’re native to). Yes, I have a full collection of “Zoobooks“. The anatomical illustrations are fucking metal as Hel and if you don’t know what I’m talking about, you’re living a life unfulfilled. Make like Kool & the Gang and get down on it!
Heyyyyyy! I’m reviewing Theee Raaaaid! (sung to the tune of 2 Live Crew’s “We Want Some Pussy”) Yes! After a grueling 4 year wait, I’m finally allowing myself to watch The Raid! I spent a long time looking forward to this, which is never a good thing as despite my best efforts this practice inevitably builds some form of expectation due to overheard tidbits like “amazing action scenes that’ll make your eyes shed tears of joy before they bleed streaks of awesome from the brain explosion that watching them can cause”. Not a direct quote, but you get the idea. In my experience, met expectations are the rarest of the rare. Not just “bloody” rare, but “still grazing” rare. Sorry, we jackals are opportunistic predatory omnivores – we scavenge puns whenever the window opens. If any of you are homophonephobics, I’m going to have to ask you to leave. There’s no place for your ignorance and bigotry here. *rimshot*
In case you’ve never heard of today’s movie, its original title is simply The Raid. For some reason, “Redemption” was tacked on for international distribution, which is really odd since there isn’t exactly much in the way of redemption happening. Maybe Sony wanted to avoid any possible lawsuits by S.C. Johnson & Son over confusion with their insecticidal product Raid©. Ask me (and even if you don’t), it seems like the perfect chance for a cross promotion! “Raid: when you don’t just want to kill bugs dead, you want to beat ’em violently first and make ’em question the choices they made that brought them to this level of agony!” A bit long-winded, sure, but I imagine one of those big city fancy-pants marketing firm types could shrink my Andre the Giant into a perfectly viable Hervé Villechaize.
Sorry if the last few paragraphs feel like filler, but I seriously don’t know what I’m supposed to talk about once I actually start reviewing the movie itself! Redemption‘s only 4 years old, so it’s protected under The Tomb Accords Anti-Spoilers Law! Unable to discuss the two or three plot developments that mean anything, I’m left with very little to write about! So, yes, I apologize for stuffing a cucumber down my jockeys, but now that I’ve confessed to the true size of my schnitzel, won’t you give me a chance to attempt to get you off? I mean, we’ve already gone this far, and we’re miles from where anyone can hear you. What do you say? 🙂
Oh, and before we really put knife and fork to the entree, let it be noted that I’m reviewing the English dub of the movie (technical problems with the subtitles on the original language version), so if I quote anything that doesn’t gel with the version you’ve seen, don’t crucify me. I don’t have the “Savior Sixer” abs for something like that.
Meet Rama (Iko Uwais). He’s a rookie member of the Jakarta police force about to embark on the biggest “make or break” day of his career. More “make or die”, but who’s counting? Being from Indonesia, he’s also Muslim. Not surprising, as it’s the dominate theological faith in that neck of the woods. If you have a problem with a flick’s protagonist being Muslim, DO NOT WATCH THIS MOVIE. As such, may I offer another option for tonight’s entertainment? First, swallow a whole roll of Mentos©. Make it two if you’re macho enough. Then, wrap your head in duct tape until your mouth is securely closed. Next, insert a tube up your nose and have a friend or family member beer bong you with a bottle of Coke, making sure the tube is in far enough that the Coke empties down your throat. After that? Well, I wouldn’t want to spoil the surprise. Just make sure your friend sends me a link to the video on YouTube! Also, you might wanna make sure your will is up-to-date before trying this. No reason, it’s just a good thing to do every so often.
Before taking part in the biggest mission of his budding career, Rama says his prayers, does his pull-ups, beats the unholy tar out of his punching bag, then kisses his pregnant wife and her big ol’ baby beer gut goodbye. He also says “I’ll bring him back.” to an older gent, who I’m presuming to be his father. From the onset, writer-director Gareth Evans is setting this up to be a tale of major triumph or crippling tragedy. Smart money’s on Rama making it to the end of the day with a still functioning circulatory system, but this could be one of those artsier flicks where the hero dies at the end. Whether that idea makes your eyes water, or you’re a psychopath who gets murder boners from watching protagonists getting popped, keep the Kleenex© handy just in case, pals and gals.
Rama’s part of a twenty man SWAT operation to take down a notorious Jakartan crime lord known as Tama (Ray Sahetapy). Tama is treated like the God of Crime in this city, and is flanked by his top henches Mad Dog (Yayan Ruhian) and the not-at-all-intimidatingly monikered Andi (Doni Alamsyah). Not to be confused with the short-lived Marvel character of the same name (born from Bob Newhart’s even shorter-lived sitcom “Bob“), Mad Dog is a fitting recipient of the Dolemite “Human Tornado” Award. He’s referred to by SWAT leader Jaka (Joe Taslim) as “a maniac of feet and fists that would tear down walls for his boss” and prefers to kill his enemies with his bare hands rather than with a weapon. As you can imagine, this is gonna lead to a whole shit show of trouble for our law enforcers…unless, you know, one of these cops saw Raiders of the Lost Ark (not to be confused with Raiders of the Lost Shark) and just shoots Doggie in the fucking face from across a room. Not that real life logic finds its way into movies very often, but you never know.
And Andi? Jaka describes him as “the brains of Tama’s business” who “keeps Mad Dog in check” and “given the opportunity, he will put bullets into you”. Though I have to bite the metaphorical bullet here to avoid a spoiler, I’ve gotta say that it’s a miracle Tama’s managed to keep his operation running as successfully as he has if Andi’s really the brains behind it. Later in the film, Andi makes a glaring error in his decision making that deservedly fucks him over big time. A screw up that any remotely intelligent person would’ve considered ahead of time, let alone someone who’s supposed to be the smart one in this Three Stooges empire of the Indonesia underworld.
Now for the movie’s hook: Tama’s crime kingdom operates out of an old apartment complex. He’s got his own in-house narcotics lab, a Sliver style peeping tom closed circuit camera network, and he rents the apartments out to any thieves, pushers, killers, or jaywalkers looking for police protection at an affordable rate with all utilities included and a flexible lease. Sure, the place is a rundown shithole and the Super is almost impossible to get a hold of on the weekends, but it’s still a better deal than most of the places you’ll find in any of the major cities in this country!
Prior to the raid (we have a title!), Rama asks why this group of newbs is being tasked with taking over the Towering Dante’s Inferno of the Jakartan realty market. One of his team members, goofy-ass tough guy stereotype Bowo (Tegar Satrya) throws out the typical good-little-soldier testosterone juiced answer of “WHY THE FUCK NOT!?” and tries to alpha male our protagonist in the pooper by calling him “boy”. Hopefully his death will be hilarious, and let’s hope it includes him screaming like a little kid and pissing himself. Jaka puts Bow in a corner (he doesn’t get Baby privileges) and responds to Ramen’s query, telling him that Tama’s been challenged by rival gangs for years, none of whom was able to topple his felonious tower. None of which addresses the questions of “Why us?” and Why today?”. And why not? Because it’s an incredibly transparent plot point that I’m cursed not to address! Damn gypsies and their hexes!
The busload of blue boys reach their destination, and meet up with their head muckity-muck, Lieutenant Wahyu (Pierre Gruno, looking like modern day Ricky “The Dragon” Steamboat). Wahyu isn’t happy about all of the wet-noses in their group, but given this is probably not a sanctioned operation to begin with, he’ll take all of the bullet sponges he can get. They luck out on getting past the front gate to the complex, when they nab a returning tenant and use his keys to gain entry. The mission goes well at first, with the team going ninja on the first five floors, incapacitating any and all miscreants with the precision of surgeons and the silence of little cat feet. Given that Tama’s Tower only has 15 levels, they should be done cleaning house by lunch! Or at least they would have, if Jaka didn’t have this whole morality problem about not killing kids…
Yep, a young boy gets his big red exclamation point (not literally) when he spots the aspiring Solid Snakes and sends out the warning signal to the adults. Did ‘Nam teach the world nothing? Women and children in a warzone are NOT to be trusted! If they’re not wearing C4 Underoos, they’re always within reach of a damn alarm! Anyway, shit goes south faster than a Yankee slave owner after the signing of The Emancipation Proclamation. Before you can say “pig hunt!”, everyone in the building is on high alert and out for blood, with Tama promising free room and board to anyone who brings him a fresh slice of bacon. Can a SWAT team of well-armed amateurs survive this deadly edition of ghetto “Fun House“? This obstacle course of mayhem and murder? Will Ram Jam, or anyone for that matter, be walking away from Satan’s apartment complex by the end of Act 3? Given that they’re unable to call in reinforcements, Tama’s got the whole place wired with security cameras, and they’re outnumbered something like 25-to-1, it’s gonna take a miracle for the good guys to win this one! Or maybe they’ll just escape through some conveniently placed plot holes.
The break down for the rest of the movie consists of scenes of people shooting at each other, cops running away from gangs of bloodthirsty thugs wielding machetes, Ramesses showing himself to be the deadly version of Jackie Chan as he beats his way through waves of enemies using everything at hand, Mad Dog beating ass like a spanking machine set to “Adrian Petersen”, a really tense scene involving a machete and a crawlspace, a bout of Home Ec amateur surgery, extreme fire ax remodeling, a DIY kitchen bomb straight out of the Anarchist’s Cookbook (or Die Hard 3), and… and…… STUFF I CAN’T TALK ABOUT! ARGH! DAMN MY MYSTICAL KEYBOARD AND ITS CURSED “SPOIL-LOCK” KEY!
As wrapped in anti-spoiler tape as my fingers may be, I can tell you this much: Evans telegraphs his tale like a Street Fighter character shouting the name of their special move before they actually do said move. If you watch Redemption and don’t see the twists in the road from a mile off, you’ll want to consult you physician, because you may have a crayon lodged in your forebrain. In fact, this sounds like the setup to one of those Jeff Foxworthy “You might be a redneck!” jokes. Don’t be a redneck. Buckle your safety belt. Sorry, crossed some reference wires there. I LEARNED IT BY WATCHING YOU!
Though his storytelling is very basic and his characters are generic archetypes, the Wales born Gareth Evans (“Doesn’t he run like a Welshman?”) knows how to make an action scene. Given that that’s the kind of thing you’d expect from an action movie, it’s good enough to see The Raid to its finish. Funny enough, GE has said that if you took out all of the fighting, his movie would come off more like survival horror, not unlike [REC]. I can see it. Protagonist gradually works their way up an apartment complex they can’t escape while trying to avoid their would-be killers? Absolutely. Maybe if Evans collaborated with a better writer and focused more of his efforts on the director duties, we could get something amazing out of him. Shit, I’d love to see what he could do with a Moon Knight or Daredevil movie! You never know. If Marvel can take a chance on giving the writer-director of Tromeo & Juliet $170 million to make a movie starring a monosyllabic Treebeard and Ranger Rick’s foul-mouthed cousin, I wouldn’t rule it out…
As is, Redemption still works great as a 90 minute testosterone trip. It’s brain candy. It’s a popcorn flick. A thing of beauty in its own right, and a nice accomplishment for the mere million-or-so dollars spent to make it. A budget that was made back 4 times over by its US box office alone! The fight choreography itself is worth the price of admission and Rama’s mandatory one-vs-many “tonfa and combat knife” battle ballet would give both Jean-Claude Van Damme and Mikhail Baryshnikov the green-eyed monster. Give me a movie where Iko Uwais and Tony Jaa hit each other with sticks and knees for two hours and you’ve just leased my eyeballs.
Before I wrap this up, I have a 32oz. slab of nitpicker beef to serve to the Sony advertising department. The Redemption poster promises us “1 Ruthless Crime Lord. 20 Elite Cops. 30 Floors of Hell” as the tagline, but I have two problems with that statement. #1 – It’s well established that most of the officers partaking in the mission are rookies. Skilled as they may be, I don’t think I’d ever refer to a greenhorn in any position as “elite”. Not that I have any doubt any one of them wouldn’t be able to beat the tits off of an American SWAT team member, but still. This pales in comparison to my next bit of under-the-belt irritation though: #2 – The apartment building is only 15 stories high. I get trying to oversell it for crowd hype purposes, but fuck you Sony marketing twats for straight up lying to us. Shit, even the apartment complex portrayed on the poster itself only has 20 floors! Let me upgrade that “fuck you” to a “fuck you with a Roman Candle”. I’m gonna stick my Krakatoa just east of your Java. Indonesian movie joke. It’s okay if you didn’t laugh.
And so goes the deadliest realtor walk-through since The Grudge open house. Blood and adrenaline flowed in equal measure and my four year anticipation was almost completely satisfied, if not for the poor plot development. Be on the lookout for our next less-than-epic episode, coming sooner than you think…unless you think it’ll be anytime in the next 3 days, in which case it sounds like someone needs to temper their expectations. Right now, I have preparations to make for my Evil Dead Bride’s birthday, and the custom shadow box I had made for Her signed copy of The Necronomicon has been sitting in a Daytona Beach FedEx facility for the last week. When can we finally send Florida off into the Atlantic and castrate the US’s flaccid geographical dong?
Oh, and no quiz. I was too high on blowfish toxin brownies last night. Everything I typed came out in tongues (by which I mean you’d have to have your tongue yanked out to pronounce any of it) and that’s all I remember before I lost consciousness. No diggity, I woke up in a bathtub full of V8 and cocktail shrimp this morning, with my laptop on the toilet and an open Word file that was harder to read than an Irvine Welsh novel translated into R’lyehian. Ktulu luv a duck.
Until next time, Mungkin hatimu tidak berlari lebih cepat otak Anda!
*sniff*sniff* “Uggh! Looks like it’s past time to get the old prayer rug washed.”
“You know I love you no matter what, baby, but I think you should seriously consider switching to Lite beers.”
“Okay, if whoever (Whomever?) it is that has the methane leak comes forward now, I promise you immunity from a Defcon 4 soap beating in the locker room after this. This is your last chance: cork it or pay the price!”
These Indonesian knock-off Three Stooges are kinda depressing… and scary. No like.
“Uggh! That stink is trapped in my nose hairs now! When I find out who it is with the IBS, they’re gonna be DOA!”
“I don’t mean to tell you how to do your job, officer, but your continued rubbing of my nipple is making me very uncomfortable!”
This is why you never go cheap and ask your friend to pierce your ear for you.
And here I thought I was the last person on Earth under the age of 70 that still had a LAN line!
“Hello! Machete man! I was wondering if you had any sugar cane or bamboo or coconuts that need macheting? I’m trying to work my way through night school… Hello? Well, I’ll just leave my business card on the table and if you or your friends need my services, please call. Thank you!”
Norelco© tries to appeal to the hipster market with their new Amish Shaver™. It’s disturbingly popular for something that left permanent scarring after 93% of test shaves… well, on the ones that survived, that is.
“You can’t talk to me like that! I defeated “Macho Man” Randy Savage at Wrestlemania III in what many have called the greatest Wrestelmania match of ALL TIME! Sure, my whole run as “The Dragon” was embarrassing, what with that stupid hat and those weird arm fins, but I know Mickey Rourke, damn it!”
This is why you never give a stranger unsolicited advice on why he should get hair plugs.
Anubis will return next time in
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