The Raid: Redemption
Is it sad that the only times I see subtitled films in the theater anymore are when 1) Will Ferrell decides to randomly make a Spanish language film, or 2) an Asian country releases an awesome martial arts film?
I'd say most Americans are uncultured, but... well, yeah we are kind of uncultured... On that note... awesome! I see another Storage Wars marathon is on this week! Yuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuup. (or for you Storage Wars: Texas fans - "Bring it!" [dies a little inside for knowing these things])
Whoa, paragraph two might be a little early to go off track with this review... focus! OK, now don't let the awful name fool you, The Raid: Redemption is a high quality action film. For violence/fighting junkies, it should do a fine job satisfying your hunger for non shaky cam action scenes. You see, I used the word 'hunger' because of a certain other movie that used too much shaky cam. I like to be very direct in revealing my stupid puns.
What this film is, if you don't know about it, is an Indonesian martial arts film (but directed by a Welsh guy), about an elite squad (different movie!) of police officers who are raiding (hence the title) a fifteen story apartment building that's riddled with criminals (parenthesis!). One of the police officers is especially awesome at beating people up, not coincidentally he was also the most human and compassionate, and the film did a decent job making me actually care about this guy.
The story itself is pretty slim. There is story outside of just the raid operation, but it's fairly simple, and doesn't take up much screen time. It does, however, keep things alive where it could have gone stale. So just having short simple story elements worked to this film's advantage overall.
The fighting is well choreographed. There are a lot of guns in this film if that means anything (positive or negative) to you, so people get shot a bunch, in addition to getting roundhoused to death. There is no shaky cam, and it's such a welcome change of pace to see an action film every now and then where the camera is resting in one place, and you can see everything that's actually happening. What's the point of blocking a great action scene if it just looks like a blur? The Raid had plenty of great fights, and several distinguishable characters with great fight personalities.
But every martial arts film tries to one up the other with something truly creative involved, and that's where The Raid kind of faltered. It's a great concept, but in the end it wasn't really anything I haven't seen before, in terms of the fighting. I love watching martial arts films, but I in no way consider myself an expert on the subject, but it just lacked a... I don't know... a "holy s***" factor... I look at the stuff Tony Jaa did in Ong Bak and The Protector, with his multi-level one-take fight scenes, and breaking 100 different guys' bones in a single fight, and The Raid didn't do anything like that.
However, The Raid knocked anything Tony Jaa has done out of the park in terms of pacing and editing (and maybe also cinematography). The Raid had near perfect pacing. Jaa movies are bogged down with awful storytelling in between epic fights. The Raid is almost nonstop action throughout. And when there isn't action, there's tension. Everything about the structure of this movie is better than most non-Jet Li martial arts films I've seen.
So while this film may not have been groundbreaking in my eyes, it is extremely well executed in nearly every way. And that counts for something. I would recommend it to any martial arts fan, or any R-rated action movie fan. I think it's been in limited release for a month now, so you should check it out in theaters while you still can!
8.5 out of 10
Speaking of movies that are great even though subtitled, the wife and I recently watched "The Lives Of Others". I thought that leaving it in German with very clear English subtitling made it a better viewing experience for us, than just listening to an English overdub, as it enabled us to talk over the dialog without missing any of it, comparing our thoughts and opinions moment by moment. It was really an engrossing kind of movie experience, though it might not work as well in a public theatre. Helped that the film is absolutely PERFECT. See it if you haven't yet. Please.
I remember a couple of times waiting in line for a foreign movie at the show, or hearing a sales person at the local Blockbuster store explain a film to a customer, and hearing some hick rube response like: "I don't go to movies to READ! That's WORK!"
Regarding The raid: seems structured very much like an FPS video game even down to the levels and "boss battles". Russian Spetznaz version of this game: set fire to the first three floors and wait with nets.
And maybe extinguishers. Maybe.
[Scott Roberts] " Yuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuuup"
Thanks for the good review. I will have to look for it when it hits home video. For the record though I wanted to share in your excitement for Storage Wars. I feel like I should keep quiet about liking the show, especially in a Film Appreciation site, but I do.
Also, loved Elite Squad. Glad you mentioned it.
[Jeff Breuer] "For the record though I wanted to share in your excitement for Storage Wars."
That's one of those shows that, when I first watched it, I was thinking "what a dumb show, look at these idiots bidding against each other..." Then fast forward a month or two, and I don't know how it happened, but it has pretty much become my go-to background show. When I'm reading internet articles, or cleaning my place, it always manages to be the show on my TV. And now I'm super hooked into it...!
Question: do you think the producers stack the lockers with goodies? I read somewhere that they denied it, and they said something along the lines that they absolutely do not stack the lockers, and they just film a ton of boring lockers and only show the few good ones. Both ways seem to make sense to me. Though I do find it odd that sometimes they'll find like a $7000 artifact in a locker mostly filled with gym socks and porno mags...
[Scott Roberts] "Question: do you think the producers stack the lockers with goodies? I read somewhere that they denied it, and they said something along the lines that they absolutely do not stack the lockers, and they just film a ton of boring lockers and only show the few good ones"
Scott, I read the same thing you did about them filming a bunch of boring lockers and we, as viewers, get to skip all of that. That's what I tend to believe. For one I think it would be difficult to coordinate gaining access to the locker, hiding it, making sure someone on the show bids on it, etc. It's not unthinkable, but it's a lot of hoops to go through. Secondly, there are a lot of people out there doing this so I have to believe that they find a bunch of hidden treasure. If they didn't, why would these people be doing this in the first place?
That's what I think, and that's what I hope anyways. I hate finding out that what I believed was real turned out to be staged. Accept for Joaquin Phoenix going crazy and becoming a rapper so he can make a crappy movie, I was rooting for that one.
My guess about "Storage wars" and shows like that is, the producers do a LOT of advance scouting work before dragging an expensive crew and hosts out, and while they might not technically salt a storage room with goodies, they are going to go thru a LOT of rooms long in advance, to improve the odds of finding *something* on-camera on shoot day.
At a guess, I'd say the producers talk to the storage facility owners, and give them some "backsheesh" for tips on which lockers are going to be "interesting". A show that really did depend on totally random luck to find enogh golden moments to make an episode, could not long survive the money leakage while on the hunt.
And really, how spontaneous is a show where they cut the lock off a room, open it "for the first time", to find some really obscure object, only to have a co-host say: "I know a guy who is an expert at (ridiculously narrow and obscure field here, something like mid-12th-century left-handed Popes); let me call him over".
What I find frustrating about "storage program of the moment" is similar to my peeves about "MythBusters": You have five minutes of true gold in any one episode, that you tease and re-play and re-cap mercilessly, from beginning to end, working too hard to fill the rest of the half hour with fluff and ad space and more filler and more teases. I lose patience, especially since the tease at the front, or the promo trailer for the next episode at the end, gives away what's going to be the highlight, way ahead.
I got aileron hinges to glue on, I don't have a hand free to hold down the fast forward button on the DVR that long.