Release Date: April 13, 2012
MPAA Rating: R
Director: Gareth Evans
Film Pulse Score: 8.5/10
Martial arts action movies have been wowing moviegoers since the ’70s when a man named Bruce Lee dazzled us onscreen with his amazing fighting abilities and physical prowess. Since then, we’ve seen many great films dedicated to giving us non-stop ass-kicking, but none can hold a candle to the testosterone-fueled carnage known as The Raid: Redemption.
The concept is simple. There’s a ruthless crime lord who operates out of a 30-story tenement that he owns. A small group of SWAT members are sent in to take him out. Shit goes bad; chaos ensues. There’s a five-minute explanation of what’s about to go down, and we’re introduced to the main characters, both good and bad. After that, the action begins, and it doesn’t let up until the brutal end. Sure, there are a few lulls in the violence, but that’s mainly so we can catch our breath.
While in most cases, a lack of a fully fleshed-out storyline would be a problem with a film, it’s not an issue with The Raid. There’s just enough story to give the characters some depth, and the action knows when to let up just before the point of pure exhaustion.
Compelling plot aside, the real reason this film is so fantastic is the unbelievable action scenes. Director Gareth Evans was able to use the plot and location to his advantage, by having the characters deal with a bevy of gunplay at the beginning but then having to resort to knives and hand-to-hand combat as munitions run out. The dilapidated building itself plays a large part in the film and made up for some of the movie’s most suspenseful moments.
The fight choreography was also like nothing I’ve ever seen before. The Indonesian martial art of Pencak Silat was mind blowing and extraordinary to watch, and the complexity of some of the more intricate fights was simply jaw dropping.
The camerawork, editing, and cinematography do their part to enhance an already visually pleasing film. While some movies go the route of shaky cameras and fast cuts, The Raid doesn’t hide anything. The precise tracking shots and long takes are masterfully done, and it’s almost as if the filmmakers are saying, “This is how you film an action movie; suck it Tony Scott.”
A quote on the poster for The Raid is “The best action movie in decades,” a fairly strong statement. Fortunately, it’s true; there really hasn’t been anything like this film in decades. It doesn’t just raise the bar, it stabs the bar in the throat and throws it out of a window. It will blow you away and leave you craving more. Thankfully, we have two sequels in the works, but I really can’t imagine making a finer action film.