Wednesday, April 11, 2012

The Raid

Get out your punches and kicks, we're reviewing The Raid!

The Raid: Redemption, as it's being called in America(blame that on the Needless Title for American Movies Committee), is unlike many American action movies you're liable to see today.  It's pure wall-to-wall action, with very little story, and shot amazingly well.

In order to take down a ruthless crime boss, a swat team is called in, mostly made up of rookie cops. When they're trapped in an apartment complex in which all of the tenants are armed criminals, they have to fight their way out and slowly realize they may not be there for the best of reasons.

This is an action movie made for the action.  Everything is built to portray the intense martial arts fighting sequences and it all comes together perfectly. There's just so much awesome balls to the walls action!  You know those action movies that focus too much on the story? Where you just wish they'd shut up and get back to the action? This is not one of those movies.  It has the barest of story plots which serves it remarkably well.  And the little story it does have is pretty good!  I wish more action movies did this(cough cough Micael Bay cough).  It let's us know that hey, we just came for the action, we don't really care about the story, don't force it down our throats.

And man, is the action great.  Just so much crazy shit happening I can't even describe it because you need to see it for yourself. It's not just the amazing hand-to-hand combat, it's the gunplay, the different styles of fighting, and the incredibly inventive uses of their environment.  Throwing guys off balconies is the least inventive of what they do.  Also, how is this not a videogame yet?

And we can all see and feel how great the action is because they actually learned how to use shaky cam well!  I don't know how they did it, but someone get their cinematographer and director of photography to teach a class or something.  You can still feel and understand what's going on even though it feels like you're in the thick of battle.  It bleeds into the rest of the movie too. Everything is masterfully shot and there are some generally gripping moments brimming with tension.
It helps that the sound design is spectacular. You can hear and feel every unique hit, crunch, slice and bullet.  It's almost to the point of campy kung-fu films without being overly-ridiculous.  The music is a nice techno blend too.  The soundtrack has a few standout notes while having a nice overall fast-paced blend that moves the story along.

The pacing is perfect, and you're never bored.  There were a few fights which I thought dragged on almost a bit too long.  You start to wonder why they can't just beat this guy already.  It's the equivalent of a particularly long boss fight. Like, why aren't they trying to keep him down instead of picking him back up to hit him? You know he's just going to get the upper-hand again. But they're not too long to be annoying.

Be warned that since this is from Indonesia there are subtitles.  I know some viewers are not subtitle people.  But considering how much action it has and how little talking there is, I didn't see it as that big of a problem.

Not all of the characters make it out alive.  This is one of the problems I have with most mainstream action movies and one of the reasons I like foreign action films. In most American action movies(and a butt-ton of horror movies) you can can be sure the main protagonist will make it out alive unless he dies midway through to be resurrected at the end.  It kills the tension of all of the action sequences in which the hero is in danger.  But with The Raid, I didn't know who would make it out alive!  So there was a nice general sense of tension.

THE GOOD: Amazing action sequences, simple story, great fighting, very tense and suspenseful, people getting shot and punched in the face, and oh, the action is pretty good I guess.

THE BAD: Some of the action sequences are a bit long, it can get pretty graphic and bloody, has subtitles.

THE VERDICT: See it!  It's a great little action film that should tide you over to what will surely be the must-see action movie of the year, Battleship. Hahaha no no it's this one.

MOVIES LIKE IT: The Good, The Bad, and The Weird, A Bittersweet Life, 

ONE-SCENE METAPHOR: One of the rookies is helping his teammate limp away but starts to get pummeled by the oncoming tenants.  It's amazing to see him maneuver and fight around his crippled friend to take out this huge amount of guys.

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