Serbuan Maut [2011]

Directed by: Gareth Evans
Written by: Gareth Evans
Cast: Iko Uwais, Joe Taslim, Donny Alamsyah, Yayan Ruhian, Pierre Gruno, Tegar Setrya, Ray Sahetapy

Indonesian film Serbuan Maut, the international smash hit dubbed “The Raid: Redemption” in English, manages the uncommon task of being, at the same time, exceptional and mediocre. Its many, many fights are an expertly choreographed (Uwais at work once again, along with fellow castmate Yayan Ruhian) dance of precise punches, kicks and a myriad of innovative, effortlessly cinematic ways of ending a man’s life. Welsh filmmaker Gareth Evans shows a deft hand at directing creative set-pieces that actually allow you to see the relentless action, which will surely have your palms sweating and your jaw dropping (it certainly did that for me).

But this movie is all viscera and agile limbs and no heart. The impressive battles, already stunning, could be much more effective if we actually cared for the people involved. The body count is exceptionally high but few, if any, of these deaths will provoke an emotional response. For all of the flair shown in the gripping, raw fight scenes, they eventually get repetitive and leave us yearning for a more complex and satisfying story.