Loud Green Bird launches “Lunes Mundial” (World Monday), a new themed-post day, with a piece on the award-winning, box-office success “The Raid: Redemption” (“Serbuan maut”). This Indonesian martial-arts action thriller, written and directed by the Welsh-born Gareth Evans, had its premiere at 2011 Toronto International Film Festival. There it took the Midnight Madness People’s Choice Award. It then went on to win five more awards, including the Silver Scream Award at the 2012 Amsterdam Fantastic Film Festival. Made on a relatively low estimated budget of $1,100,000, it grossed $4,105,123 (as of 06 July 2012) at the box office in the U.S. alone [IMDb Pro].
As a rookie member of an elite special-forces team, Rama (Iko Uwais) is instructed to hang back during a covert mission involving the extraction of a brutal crime lord from a rundown fifteen-story apartment block. But when a spotter blows their cover, boss Tama (Ray Sahetaphy) offers lifelong sanctuary to every killer, gangster and thief in the building in exchange for their heads. Now Rama must stand in for the team’s fallen leader Jaka (Joe Taslim) and use every bit of his fighting strength – winding through every floor and room to complete the mission and escape with his life [Sony Classics website].
Since the above synopsis is relatively spoiler-free, it leaves out several major plot twists and minor character arcs (such as those that explain the subtitle “Redemption”). Although all of the story elements have been done before, the complete package that is “The Raid: Redemption” is prepossessing in its fast-paced visuals — especially in the fight scenes that draw on the Indonesian martial art of pencak silat. It’s all supported by a killer soundtrack punctuated by original music written by Aria Prayogi and Fajar Yuskemal (original version) and Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park and Joseph Trapanese (English version).
But the major reason for the film’s appeal is Iko. A master of silat (having earned the title of National Champion in 2005), he makes powerful use of his martial-arts knowledge and skills in this film, not only as the lead actor but as one of several action choreographers as well. Hardcore Indonesian action filmmakers The Mo Brothers (“Killers,” 2014 — see my review) also got in on the film’s action, receiving a special thank-you in the end credits for helping to make this movie happen. According to TwitchFilm, Iko is the star of the Mo’s current feature-length action production, “Headshot,” which is scheduled for release sometime this year (check out Bloody Disgusting for teasers).
Back to “The Raid”: Given its Indonesian character, how could it have been written and directed with such violent veracity by a Welsh filmmaker? Gareth Evans has always had a strong interest in the Asian martial-arts genre. He started his film career by making a short Japanese samurai film, “Samurai Monogatari,” while studying screenwriting in graduate school at the University of South Wales. Yet his Indonesian-Japanese wife, Maya, deserves credit for introducing him to Indonesia and silat. The couple moved to Indonesia, where Evans found work making a documentary film about the martial art. In the process, he also discovered Iko, who was working as a telephone company deliveryman at the time. Evans cast him as the star of his cult hit film “Merantau” — and the rest, as they say, is history [Daily Mail].
Frisco Kid’s IMDb Rating: 7 out of 10 stars
Look for a new international film review every Monday on Loud Green Bird’s “Lunes Mundial”!