Pulling a Trigger is Like Ordering Takeout.
My break is over. Time to review stuff! I felt that today’s movie was fortuitous for me. It’s a movie that I heard about while it was in theaters, but never really from anyone whose opinions I valued enough to make me check it out in theaters. But I kept hearing that this movie was such an awesome action movie, with great use of guns and great hand to hand combat. It stuck in my brain like a thorn, or like that Q-tip I lost in the third grade. But, unlike that Q-tip, this demanded resolution. And, right smack in the middle of my break, I realized that this movie had just showed up in RedBox. It had to be mine. And that brings us to my review of The Raid: Redemption, written and directed by Gareth Evans, and starring Iko Uwais, Donny Alamsyah, Ray Sahetapy, Yayan Ruhian, Pierre Gruno, Joe Taslim, and Tegar Satrya.
Lieutenant Wahyu (Pierre Gruno) leads a SWAT team to a building in the slums with the intention of busting in and arresting the merciless drug lord, Tama Riyadi (Ray Sahetapy), and his two henchmen, the brains Andi (Donny Alamsyah) and the brawn “Mad Dog” (Yayan Ruhian). A team of 20 SWAT members enter the building but are quickly spotted and the shit hits the fan. Really, that’s about the entire story.
I found that I really enjoyed this movie, but you probably won’t see any of the reasons in this first paragraph. The story is entirely unimpressive. I actually took no notes whatsoever on the story of this movie. It made no impact. It’s really nothing more than SWAT deciding they should go to this building and arrest a guy and it doesn’t go according to plan. Then they try to spice it up with a little corruption and a brother showing up alongside the bad guys, but none of that’s mined for anything. It’s a typical and unsurprising story, but it’s also not the focus of the movie.
I came into this movie having heard that it was one of the coolest action movies in years. I started out a little shaky with the action in this movie. In the beginning, they seemed to be focusing either too much on making the movie stylish or on making the action all based around guns. I’m not really that big of a fan of gun based action. I prefer a good fist fight. I’m honorable like that. You’re not special if you can point a gun at someone and defeat them from 20 feet away, but if you can face-punch someone into submission, you’re alright. But the action in the beginning of the movie, though it was cool, was too much about the guns. I did like the sound effects they used for the guns because each shot sounded like a jackhammer. But here’s the thing about guns: they run out of bullets. When they run out of bullets, it turns towards the hand to hand combat. And it’s fuckin’ tight! Right from the moment where Rama goes down a hallway, beating ass with only a nightstick and a knife, I was on board. The hand to hand combat scenes are just fantastic. There are people that might say that some of the fight scenes – and particularly the fight between Rama, Andi, and Mad Dog – go on for too long, but there’s no such thing in my book. I’ve liked Tony Jaa movies before, and those are basically just exhibitions for the cool shit Tony Jaa can do. So clearly I would watch a movie that was not much more than one long fight scene. They broke them up in this movie, but the fights were long and spectacular, mixing Jiu Jitsu with kickboxing and probably other stuff, but they were all sweet. And, there was generally at least one moment in each fight that made me exclaim, “Oh shit!” Rama kicks a guy down a stairwell and he lands on a wall, breaking his back. Rama kicks a guy through a door and impales another one through the neck on the broken remains of the door. He also grabs a guy’s leg, pulls him down with it, and stomps his head. I was down when I saw the first of these “Oh shit” moments, but seeing the rest made me realize what I had heard was correct. This is a movie full of awesome action. One thing that came along with the cool, prolonged fight scenes that I liked was that the people in the fight would get noticeably exhausted as the fight continued. The fight didn’t get less awesome because they were weary, but the way they played it was as if the fight was one shot and the actors didn’t get a break in the filming.
I had roughly the same feelings – and exactly the same amount of notes taken – about the performances in the movie. Nothing really to say about them. They all did a fine job, but the movie did not require very much out of them. The ones that did it punched the hell out of people’s faces very well and that’s about it.
The Raid: Redemption offers next to nothing by way of story or acting chops, but that was not what was advertised. I was told this movie was one of the most awesome action movies – both for gunplay and martial arts – that has been released in recent memory. It was. The action of this movie was friggin’ dope, and caused me to exclaim profanities out loud on more than one occasion. This movie is definitely worth the watch. Go check it out from a RedBox for a dollar if you have any interest in martial arts movies and I highly doubt you will regret it. I bought the movie the very next day on BluRay because I’ll watch these action scenes over and over again. The Raid: Redemption gets “The coolest action movie in recent memory” out of “Go to work and have fun.”
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