Friday, May 3, 2013

The Raid: Redemption

  While this is probably my fourth time seeing The Raid, I do believe it's only my second review. I don't do second reviews for many movies as my thoughts the first time around should prove the most faithful. However, with a movie like this, one can't help but become impressed and awed all over again. I think this warrants another write-up.

  Welsh director Gareth Evans wroth and directed this Pandora's box of blood soaked martial arts and I've yet to see any movie top it. It's not a pillar of great storytelling, although it is efficient, it may leave more than some viewers wanting more to the overall meat of the plot.  However The Raid refuses to let you think for one second that it's here to do anything except kick ass. All the ass. The pace is utterly relentless and the amount of brutality it throws at you is absolutely jaw-dropping.

  Star Iko Uwais navigates the horrific hallways of this run-down tenement building, dodging machete wielding maniacs and hoards of fierce thugs in order to escape from the living hell, and bring the bad guys to justice. Which really means just stabbing and cutting them open with a knife. Five at a time obviously. If any of this sounds like an insane horror movie, you're not far off. It's a claustrophobic experience, full of wall to wall gore. Martial arts savvy opponents face off with ferocious intensity, letting the bodycount skyrocket.

  It's a dizzying experience that simply doesn't let up. It's also a very basic movie. It has the bare necessities, but only just. It has a couple protagonists, stuck behind enemy lines, and hundreds of enemies for them to dispatch with consistently bloody results. From guns, to knives, axes, grenades, and raw, brutal, fighting- nobody is safe in this movie. You immediately know that it's a war zone for all intents and purposes, and about as bloody as any war movie you've ever seen.

  From the opening scenes to the final showdown, there's no doubt that The Raid is a great movie. It's great because it doesn't dilute itself. There's no ridiculous pauses for comedy, and it doesn't try to shoehorn forced exposition in there. It sticks to what it does best. Action. Everything is engineered to enhance the action scenes, the fantastic music score by Mike Shinoda, the camera movements (and no, not shaky cam. Thank god.) and even the setting. It's in your face, and raw in the most visceral ways possible.

  By the time the final shots roll around, they're electrifying. It's probably the first breath of relief you've taken the entire time. It's the first break in the tension and suspense. It plays out in slow motion as our protagonist continue down the paths they've laid out for themselves. It's such an amazing scene, and quite possibly my favorite in the movie. The music, the slow motion, all of it is perfect. It's a perfect bookend to an hour and a half of sheer merciless violence. You truly feel like you've been through a war with these characters, and they certainly look like it too.

  I can't stress enough how fitting and amazing this final shot is, but it's amazing because everything that came before it was too. It's an intense battlefield of a movie, erupting in a chaotic explosion of fists, knives, and gallons of blood that's ultimately second to none. See the movie if you haven't already. It's been on Blu Ray for a while and I strongly consider it a must own if any bit of this sounded exciting. The Raid is no joke. It delivers.

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