The Raid: Redemption

My anticipation for this film has been palpable.  It has been many years since I read things in reviews for an action film that have filled me the kind of excitement that was built up for this thing.  Comments like: “best action since Die Hard”, “one of the most violent action films ever made”, and “brutal, non-stop bloody fighting” seemed to be getting tossed around quite frequently, closely followed by “this is one that actually lives up to hype”.  I am here to re-iterate then:  this is one that lives up to the hype.  I don’t really agree with the comparison to Die Hard though, my comparison would be: “one of the best action movies since Hard Boiled”, and perhaps that is really saying something in my case since Hard Boiled is what I consider to be one of the greatest action films ever made, and I like it even more than Die Hard.

The beauty of this movie is that it is incredibly simple, and lets the action speak for itself.  When I go see an action movie what I want to see is action.  This is one of those movies my dad used to bring home when we were kids and he’d say “this should be a good movie, it has nothing but gratuitous violence and no socially redeeming values” (my childhood was awesome, I know).  Basically, an Indonesian (this was made in Indonesia) SWAT team goes to large apartment complex run by an evil crime overlord to raid it and take him down.  The building is home to the worst scum and villainy around (ala the Cantina in Star Wars, but sans creatures with bat heads and shit) and they’re all living there in sort of a “criminal protection” because no cop would dare enter the building.  The SWAT team of course isn’t supposed to be there, so we have an “if you fail, you don’t exist” type situation here, so they end up trapped mid-invasion when the evil crime lord decides to sick everyone in the building on them, promising free room and board for life as a reward for their heads.  And that’s pretty much the gist of it, and the great thing is it doesn’t need to be anything else.  Action movies in recent years have started to suck because they keep trying to make them “more” than just an action movie instead of just making the action good.  Not an issue here.

This is truly some of the most intense, hardcore fighting ever put into a movie. Stabbings, slashings, broken spines, broken arms,broken legs, broken faces, gunplay, explosions, gory headshots, it’s got a bit of everything. One thing I LOVED about this is how bloody and nasty it gets because almost everyone is wielding a knife or machete.  Because this movie, although it does feature quite a bit of kinetic, hand held camera work, is still shot in the grand, pulled back traditional Asian martial arts style, you can clearly see every stab and slash wound, and they don’t cut to pull it off.  I’m sure the gore must’ve been achieved using some degree of CG work, but it’s blended so well with the practical blood bags and stuff that I had zero issues with it.  This is definitely HARD-R violence like so very few action films seem to have the balls to do these days.

One guy I thought was just awesome is the right hand man to the bad guy who’s his muscle.  He doesn’t like using guns and shit because he thinks that takes the fun out of killing.  Instead he prefers to simply beat people to death with his bare hands.  He’s also not one of those villains who has to only pick on people weaker than him, no this guy not only wants to beat you to death, he also wants you to give him a good fight too!  In one scene he’s beating the shit out of a chained up dude, and the hero comes into save him, and instead of just fighting one of them, he unchains the guy he was just torturing so he can fight them both at the same time in what is one of the most grueling battles ever committed to celluloid.  And the best part of all of this, is that this isn’t some hulking meat head, or WWE wrestler in a non-speaking physical role, he’s the shortest character in the movie, and although certainly cut, he’s by no means bodybuilder material.  But when you see this guy fight, you know right away he is not someone with whom to fuck. 

This is the type of action movie that you’ll want to revisit over and over just to relive the rush of seeing high quality bone crunching hardcore action that so few movies deliver these days, and even for all of you subtitle hating (read: unable to read) people out there I think the movie’s other qualities will win you over, it simply cannot be denied that this is where it is at in terms of action movie making.  I’ve heard the guys who made this have a movie that they put out before this one called Merantau, so I’ll definitely be tracking that one down.  I also read, in Vern’s review, that they plan to make a bigger budget sequel to this movie, so I’m definitely anticipating what they’ll do next to top what was in The Raid!  I’ve also heard there are plans to remake this in the US for all of those illiterate types mentioned above; I think we can all safely assume that one can be skipped.  Frankly given the ratio of dialogue to fighting in this movie I don’t really see the point of remaking it and fail to see how The Raid, starring “insert American action star” is going to be an improvement over what has already been made.

My only criticism for this movie isn’t even really a criticism of the movie itself.  I think that the re-titling for this re-release with a new soundtrack by Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park fame (which isn’t some shitty rap abomination like they did with Black Mask, so you can rest easy, this one is actually really good and suited the movie perfectly) seems pretty dumb.  Was there some problem with just leaving it as The Raid The Raid certainly describes exactly what transpires in the film, and I don’t really recall much in the way of redemption going on.  Maybe you could argue that the redemption is to refer to how one of the main villains right han men turns out to be the brother of the hero cop who is part of the raid on the building and helps him, but at the end he decides not to go home with him and continue his life of crime because it’s the only thing he’s good at.  Not sure if that really counts for making things right, and since he wasn’t the cause of the cops coming to the building and getting eyeball deep in the shitstorm of death and destruction that transpires, I don’t think he’s redeeming himself at all.  The new title makes it sound kinda like some shitty DTV sequel, but whatever, it’s a small gripe.

So yeah, if you haven’t gathered already, SEE THIS FUCKING MOVIE ANY CHANCE YOU GET!!!!!!!!