"The Raid: Redemption" is a slam-bang, knock-your-socks-off action bonanza with some of the most peerlessly shot, performed and choreographed fight sequences you're likely to see on screen. Welsh-born writer-director-editor Gareth Evans ("Merantau") proves a visionary force, grabbing hold of the audience with a barrage of virtuoso set pieces that are both hide-your-eyes violent and mind-bogglingly stunning.
The Jakarta-set film lays out its do-or-die mission in a few brief, well chosen sentences and never looks back. The deal: An elite special-forces team must fight, destroy and kill their way — floor by floor — up to the 15th story of a rundown apartment tower to take out a brutal crime lord, Tama (Ray Sahetapy), and his combat-crazy henchmen, Andi (Doni Alamsyah) and the aptly named Mad Dog (Yayan Ruhian, co-fight coordinator with Iko Uwais).
But when stalwart rookie cop and expectant father Rama (Uwais) must take over for the SWAT team's fallen leader (Joe Taslim), he finds himself in one bone-crunching battle after another (the dazzling martial arts styles here include silat and judo), all while trying to protect his dwindling army of lawmen.
A tornado of character twists and plot complications ensues as fists fly, axes hurl, machetes slice and the walls literally come tumbling down. It's exhausting, exhilarating, riveting stuff that fans of high-octane filmmaking should not miss.
"The Raid: Redemption." MPAA rating: R for strong brutal bloody violence throughout, and language; in Indonesian with English subtitles. Running time: 1 hour, 40 minutes. At ArcLight Cinemas, Hollywood; Pacific's The Grove Stadium 14, Los Angeles; AMC's Century City 15, Century City.