The Raid: Redemption is the second movie starring martial artist Iko Uwais, his first being Merantau (click here for the review on Zen Throw Down). The two movies could not be more different in tone and style. Merantau was a coming of age film, with Uwais playing an innocent young man from a village making his way into the big city as part of a rite of passage. In The Raid he plays Rama, a rookie member of an elite SWAT team. Merantau was also much more plot driven, while The Raid is gritty, dark, and focused on fights.
The Raid concerns Rama's SWAT team raiding an apartment building in a slum held by a notorious drug lord and his mob of scumbags and murderers. The mission goes south very quickly, and the surviving officers are trapped halfway up the building with machete and gun wielding psycho criminals coming out of the walls. All the remaining officers can do now is try to get out alive. Very simple plot, but it sure works in serving up fight after fight after fight after fight.
And there are a lot of fight scenes. They are shot and performed very well, with plenty of opportunity to see the martial arts at work. Another plus, given the gritty subject matter, is that there are no obvious wire-fu moves. Just straight up fighting as far as I can tell. And once The Raid starts moving, it gathers speed like a runaway freight train going downhill. You will definitely get all the action you can handle, and the violence level in the unrated edition is extremely high. Positively, there are a few plot twists along the way to add some flavor to the proceedings, and we get eye candy (as far as that goes in a movie like this) via model and former judo athlete Joe Taslim as Sergeant Jaka.
Bottom-line, The Raid is all about fight scenes. That will make it a must see for many people. I enjoyed the movie, which kept me engaged and - in some points - on edge all the way through to the end.
BTW: Word is that a sequel, with Uwais on board, called Berandal is scheduled for release in March 2014.