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Raw hand-to-hand action USP of 'The Raid - Redemption' (IANS Movie Review - Rating: ***)

Mumbai,Cinema/Showbiz, Fri, 11 May 2012


Film: 'The Raid - Redemption'; Cast: Iko Uwais, Ananda George and Ray Sahetapy; Director: Gareth Evans; Rating: 3/5 
Simplistically speaking, there are two basic types of action films - super technological special effects fare and hand-to-hand physical action. While Hollywood has excelled in the former, the Asian countries have mastered the latter. 
Thus, you have had different stars of the Orient, whose physicality shocked audiences as much as it thrilled them. Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and more recently Tony Jaa have been actors born out of that mould. In 2011, another name was added - Iko Uwais, who in this film shows some of the meanest physical moves you would have seen in martial arts cinema history. 
A police SWAT battalion raids a building full of criminals. They get in easily, but once deep inside the building, they realise their guns and grenades are no match for the raw brutality of the inmates, shunting them as they become small fish in a big, piranha infested pond.  
As they fall, one after the other, Rama (Iko) realises he has to literally fight his way out. 
No matter how good the cinematic world gets at special effects wizardry, raw hand-to-hand action will always find favour in the minds of men. While special effects are fantasy, hitting someone with your limbs in well coordinated movements is real and thus stimulates greater vicarious reaction from viewers.
Hence, despite their films being not so great cinematically, Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and Tony Jaa became popular and it is for the same reason 'The Raid: Redemption', despite lacking a sensible story, plot or characterisation, will work.
Iko, a proponent of the traditional Indonesian martial art Silat, was discovered by Welsh director Gareth Evans while filming -a documentary. Taken over by Iko's charisma and great camera presence, he cast him as the protagonist in 'Merantau'.
'The Raid' is their second film together, which has garnered rave reviews from fans globally, something not seen since Tony Jaa's 'Ong Bak'.
The most important thing in an action film is the action. Director Gareth Evans and action director Iko get that right. That it is peppered with wit, both visual and aural, is an added advantage.
The action sequences are quick and well choreographed. Iko has a natural and graceful flair for action. If he plays his cards right, he will emerge as the next global action superstar.
The main problem with the film is the extra gore. One only wishes it were toned down. But that is perhaps the reason why the film will garner young fans, attuned as they are to this gore and blood in video games.
India not only has a rich history and tradition of martial arts, but it is believed to be their birth place. It has many forms practiced in many corners of the country from the well-known Kalaripayat in Kerala to Thang-Ta in Manipur from Gatkain Punjab to Kuttu Varisai in Tamil Nadu.
Hence, to see a country like Indonesia storm into the world of martial arts cinema with such a delectable fare, should make every Indian jealous. It is time some martial artist and some director take up the martial arts challenge in the country.

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