Friday, April 27, 2012

The Raid: Redemption Review

What is up, Internet?  I have been waiting a very long time to see The Raid.  I first heard about it well over a year ago when it was first making the festival circuit.  Everyone was raving about this film.  Its a very simple premise: an elite SWAT team must enter and clear an apartment complex owned and ruled by a drug lord.  Its a fairly straightforward and seemingly dull plot.  Luckily The Raid is so much more than that.  Be warned: I'm going to spoil the crap out of this film.

***Spoiler warning is in effect***

What sounds so simple on paper turns out to be much, much more complicated.  The team (of about 24) police descend upon the building in two squads, with their chief along for the ride.  As they clear the building floor by floor they meet relatively little resistance.  Until their presence is blown by a child lookout.  Who gets his brains blow out by the chief.  Yeah, this film gets insanely gory.  What ensues is essentially an hour-and-a-half action scene that blows you away (yes, pun intended) scene after scene.  The squad has to fight their way up the building, but is being pursued from top and bottom by legions of thugs - some wielding automatic weapons, with others using only machetes.  I cannot begin to convey the level of insanity that The Raid reaches at times.  There are too many amazing action set pieces for me to break them all down and describe them.

For me, the one absolute stand-out scene involves one of the squad, Rama, alone in a hallway.  He has no rifle or sidearm (more on that later).  Only his baton (or tonfa for those martial artists out there) and a knife.  And he kills/maims/injures probably close to twenty thugs that try to stop him.  And its effing insane.  There isn't much more I can say about it.  Oh wait, after he kills all those dudes he drops his weapons.  Which leads me into the few complaints I have about this film...

The logic of these men just doesn't make sense for most of the film.  In one scene in particular, the few surviving men hole up in an apartment and long story short, they blow up some bad guys.  In the aftermath of the explosion they're all waking up and groggy.  One of the men goes to pick up his rifle and his squadmate silently tells him not to.  More bad guys are coming and they're all being really quiet so the baddies don't hear them.  Picking up their rifles off the floor wouldn't make that much noise.  AND THEY WOULD HAVE A WEAPON TO FIGHT WITH.  Now cut to the aforementioned crazy action scene with a knife and baton.  That's because he didn't pick up his rifle in that apartment.  But that still doesn't explain why he doesn't keep that knife and baton.  Or maybe pick up some weapons off of the dead thugs.  I just couldn't get past it.  If I was in their shoes, I would've done anything in my power to stay alive and hold onto my weapon.

My only other complaint is with the action scenes.  I know, I know, I said that they're incredible.  And they freaking are.  But I can't help but feel that towards the end of the film they were just too long and dragged out.  I know that these are professional SWAT members that we're dealing with, but its very hard for me to believe that they can have multiple fistfights like they do during the course of the film without passing out from exhaustion.  Again, don't get me wrong, The Raid features some of the best and most inspired fight choreography I've ever seen on screen...but they went for just a bit too long at times.

A quick note on the acting of the film:  for the most part I felt the performances of the main cast were solid.  Its always tough really gauging a performance when its in a language other than English.  Your eyes are naturally locked onto the subtitles rather than the actor's acting.

The Raid: Redemption is an incredible action film and truly must be seen to be believed.  My words cannot in the least capture the incredisanity (just coined by me) on display here.  There are distinct moments burned into my brain that make me want to see this film again and again.  If you even enjoy action films in the least bit please, please track down this film and see it.  Its worth any and all trouble you have to go through to find it.

The Raid: Redemption is one of the best pure action films I've ever seen, but isn't immune to flaws.

The Bearded Bullet is out.

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