I saw The Raid: Redemption (henceforth called The Raid as that subtitle has never made sense) no less than 3 times in theaters and probably half a dozen times since. I’ve been an action movie junkie since my childhood, but this is a film that had a very personal impact on me at a very specific time in my life. I moved to Austin in 2010 to change careers and dive all in to the film industry as a totally green 30 year old. I’ve dabbled at the fringes of the Austin film community ever since and The Raid playing at South By Southwest 2012 was a mind blowing experience that focused my adult attentions on action cinema in a refreshed and invigorated way. The simultaneous rise of Scott Adkins as a DTV action hero for our era also played into all of this, but I’ve heavily concentrated my cinematic explorations around action cinema ever since Gareth Evans went to Indonesia and collaborated with Iko Uwais and Yayan Ruhian to create one of the greatest action films in the history of cinema.
You’ve got to use all the superlatives you can when the time is right. And heaping accolades upon The Raid is the correct response to experiencing The Raid. This was true in 20212 when it changed the global action cinema scene forever and is true today as the film continues to be a high watermark against which most any action epic worth its salt is measured.
Retaining every ounce of its grit and style and simplicity of concept executed with top notch filmmaking, The Raid remains supreme here in 2024, now upgraded to 4K UHD with a wholly new color correction overseen by Evans himself and presented with the option to watch with either the Indonesian or International musical score. These tantalizing features allowing audiences to experience the film in a new way were more than enough for me to be interested in reviewing this physical release and revisiting the film, and those components do prove to be a game changer. Neither the color correction or the score alter a single frame of the actual cut of the film, so all the plotting, rhythms, and set pieces remain masterful in whatever way you choose to watch the film today. I’d never seen The Raid with its original Indonesian score or with the new color correction, so that was the way I chose to watch when I first popped in the disc. In all honesty listening to the original score was a fascinating experience because I really didn’t mind the score at all and it’s pretty atmospheric and largely guitar-based. But that Mike Shinoda and Joseph Trapenese score that I adore so much and had grown accustomed to was really notably missing for me. It’s a fascinating look into what the distributors who acquired the film for international distribution must have noticed at the time. The movie is a staggering achievement, but by bringing in a bolder, more beat-heavy score, the film achieves an iconic and masterful status that just isn’t quite there with the original score.
I also personally got excited when Evans mentioned he’d be doing a color correction. As sharp and confident as The Raid was at the time, the muted colors did always stand out to me and I vastly prefer this newly released correction. Granted, art is all subjective so many fans may prefer the Indonesian score or the original color grading. Now across a few different physical releases, fans can experience the film in almost any iteration they want to. And that’s the glory of this release.
Aside from all the bells and whistles of this new release, how does the film itself hold up?
The Raid only improves with repeat viewings. Yes, the plot is simple: Jakarta cops raid a criminal boss’s heavily manned tower block apartment complex and a floor by floor battle to the death ensues. Star Iko Uwais brought an incredible set of skills to the screen as a handsome and fresh-faced leading man with acting chops, on screen action refinement, and even action choreography behind the camera. Writer/Director Evans brought a commitment to building a hyper violent story that placed high quality action at the forefront to a meticulous degree. But ingeniously, that expertly executed action is never highlighted to the detriment of the perfectly balanced story. Iko’s Rama has a connection to someone on the inside, so there’s slowly revealed drama and pathos there, not to mention that he and his wife have a baby on the way so there’s something to fight for to get through this horrible day. Our elite team has some corruption in its ranks, so the political double crosses are worth paying attention to as the floor by floor bloodbath plays out. No moment in this tight script is wasted, no movement or interaction without intention. There’s even endless creativity in the use of an armored tower as largely the single setting of the story. Every single way a human body can either make its way up or down a level of a building will be explored in this tight runtime, with all the resulting bone crunching and bloodletting that entails.
The planets just aligned with The Raid. Something magic happened when Gareth Evans went to Indonesia, and action cinema fans have been chasing that high ever since, with The Raid becoming one of, if not the most, influential action film of this generation. Countries all over the world have since produced calling card action films of their own to share their native filmmaking talent with the global market. Evans, Uwais, and Indonesia as a whole have continued to be bedrock anchors of action filmmaking since the world changing release of this film. The Raid is a phenomenon that only comes along a time or two in any generation and changed the game both immediately upon release and still today over a decade later.
If you’re a longtime fan or being introduced for the first time, this 4K UHD release feels like the new definitive way to experience the film.
And I’m Out.
The Raid: Redemption hits 4K UHD Blu-ray Tuesday January 16th, 2024 from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment