R, 1 hr. 41 min. Directed By: Gareth Evans. Release Date: Mar 23, 2012.
I’ve been seeing trailers for this on quite a few movies recent, but it was a review on Duke and the Movies that pushed my hand. Well, to be honest, Sam’s review wasn’t the first I’d seen, but it was the first from someone I “know” well enough to use it as a gauge for my own emotional response to the movie.
A while ago, I said something to the effect that The Expendables was the actioniest movie ever, merely because they managed to assemble a cast that consisted of every action star still currently alive. In the wake of The Raid: Redemption, all those guys pretty much look like old French whores, not just Stallone. Not only is this movie, the closest thing I’ve ever known to a thrill-ride, it manages to be an action film that delivers a moderately tight story line (although it does suffer a bit from predictability) and the cast delivers a number of good performances. Not great performances, but by far better than what I’m used to seeing from an action movie. When you have nearly constant pulse pounding and reasonably good performances, it makes for a really good shoot-em-up.
There are a number of things that distinguish this from other entries in the genre. This is the first time that I’ve seen a movie like this that wasn’t Chinese or Japanese. I liked that this wasn’t (at least not technically) vigilante justice, but that it was police were trying to do their duties to their city. I loved the crime lord and his organization. In fact, I thought that there were no fewer than five criminals within this building that were perfectly played. Even some of the brief appearances were very well done. I also liked that this movie was effective and managed to be so with only a single pyrotechnic effect and with only a handful of death-defying stunts. This was, in large part, thanks to the hand-to-hand combat choreography, which was realistic and gave an eye to the enclosed spaces that most of the fighting takes place in.
I know that this is still on a limited release, but if you like action movies (or are looking for something a bit different from the traditional American action flick), you really should give this a shot. This has been proclaimed “the best action movie of the year” by critics, and I’d argue that it’s the best action movie in many years. It isn’t completely dependent on stunts and special effects, and was written with an eye for continuity and realism, not just gunfire and explosions. The Raid: Redemption may have done what Avatardid only a few years ago: set the new bar for its entire genre.