Well the first movie I decided to watch/write about is Gareth Evans ‘The Raid: Redemption’. Holy crap, this movie was badass. That’s probably going to be the recurring theme for this write-up, as The Raid is a straight forward, balls-to-the-wall action movie. I wasn’t sure whether to start with this movie or an ‘oldie’ (which will probably be tomorrows entry) but I think I made the right choice. I’ve been meaning to watch The Raid for awhile, from hearing good things about it, (and it’s recently finished sequel) but mostly because of Evans incredible segment from VHS 2 (he directed ‘Safe Haven’, about the Indonesian documentary crew). Like that story, this one also takes place in Indonesia, where Evans currently makes all of his movies.
The plot of The Raid is simple enough. A violent drug kingpin basically has control of an entire 15 story building, complete with floors of addicted tenants, meth labs, and even a surveillance room! The film follows one cop in particular, as him and 19 other policemen get orders to finally raid the place, and stomp out the kingpin and his cronies. There are some really great twists and turns in the third act, and the odds are hardly ever in the protagonists’ favor, which makes the movie consistently tense. You hardly ever see an action movie like this, that hits the ground running and never stops.
This led to something that I thought about a few times throughout watching The Raid, which is that you just won’t see an action movie of this caliber in America. The dichotomy between action films in America and movies like The Raid (made with low budgets, in other countries) is something you can’t ignore. There’s a certain feeling of authenticity to the action scenes and choreography in The Raid that is lacking in more recent films of its genre. Where a westernized action movie will likely involve car chases, explosions every ten minutes, and using CG as a crutch to limp through the plot, legitimate and badass fight choreography is a refreshing thing to see.
While The Raid has its fair share of awesome gun battles also, the real good stuff comes from these hand-to-hand fights (or many involving machetes, axes, knives). I was reminded quite a bit of Tony Jaa’s fighting style, albeit much more brutal. The Raid also has a great sense of urgency to it that a lot of action movies lack. There’s probably 3 or 4 minutes of ‘back-story’ before we’re thrown into the chaos that is the raid itself. Pacing and building up the action is also something that Evans totally nailed. Overall, I think just about anybody who likes action movies (and can handle some pretty gnarly violence) ought to check out The Raid.
If you have any suggestions for movies, let me know! I want to have a catalog of suggestions from people that I can check out over the course of the summer. Also, if you have any suggestions for the blog or questions or whatever, send them on by also. I’ll have a new write-up tomorrow, so stay tuned!