A lot of people would like to think that action movies are sort of an American thing. Nobody does violence like us. Between superheroes and Clint Eastwood characters, no one could ever make a better action movie.
Those people are wrong.
Two great imports from recent years include “Ong-Bak” and 2010’s “13 Assassins.” So when I was starting to hear about Indonesia’s “The Raid: Redemption” getting rave reviews, I was hoping to see something unique.
For those of you who don’t know the setup (which is probably everyone, considering the $17 dollars spent on marketing this film), a SWAT-like team is sent to a 30-story apartment building where the landlord specializes in drugs and ruthlessness. Not only does he have a crazy right hand man, but the tenants of the building are also willing to take on the cops.
Is it unique? Let me put it this way: as far as action scenes go, no American film of recent memory can touch this. The choreography is fantastic and the violence is brutal enough for John McClane to wince. There were several times throughout the film where an audible gasp would escape my mouth. You know those scenes in a cartoon where a character falls from a great height and hits everything possible on the way down, letting out a new grunt with each stop? That was my reaction to the fighting in this film.
As for the story, it’s nothing a fan of action movies hasn’t seen before. The protagonist is a rookie cop, there’s a dirty cop along the way, and so forth. I wouldn’t say the story is too cliched, but it’s not all that original. The acting is pretty good, although the bar is set pretty low when it comes to the action genre.
Although the writing was just average, the story is able to develop some interesting characters like the crime lord (Ray Sahetapy) and his henchman “Mad Dog” (Yayan Ruhian).
Writer/director Gareth Evans wanted this film to be a launching pad for its star, Iko Uwais, and I hope he succeeds as the future action star did very well with only his second film credit. Much like Bruce Lee or Tony Jaa, he’s got a fan for life in me.
I can’t recommend “The Raid: Redemption” enough for action fans, but I will put out the disclaimer for people who are queasy around blood and violence that it has copious amounts of both.
Next, I’m hoping to review Jason Statham’s “Safe” and then around this time next week I’ll be putting up my take on “The Avengers.” Hope to see you around soon.