Looks like fun, although this trailer is a lot more generic looking than the first one. And I’m not sure about Ben Kingsley playing The Mandarin. I mean, it’s not like Hollywood lacks actual Asian actors these days…
The Raid: Redemption
Director: Gareth Evans
Writer: Gareth Evans
Stars: Iko Uwais, Ananda George, Ray Sahetapy
This movie came up on the list of movie possibilities over at a friend’s house, when somebody mentioned that it was supposed to feature “non-stop action.”
The Raid: Redemption is sort of like John Woo’s Hard Boiled without all the subtlety and restraint. It’s hyper-violent, hyper-kinetic, utterly gripping, and a bit more realistic than usual for the genre. It’s so well-executed that it jumps right to the top of the Asian Action Cinema heap, which is no mean feat.
An Indonesian SWAT team of 20 or so is in sent in to clear out a drug lord’s shithole high-rise tenement in Jakarta and take him into custody. It soon becomes apparent that they’ve bitten off far more than they can chew when an entire building full of his gang (plus affiliated scumbags) come after them, with the drug lord watching all on his security camera array. About half the team dies in the first fullisade, and the rest are soon running for their lives through corridors, rooms, and even floors (tactical ax for the win!). It’s not quite non-stop carnage from that point on, but it’s pretty close. The survivors can’t escape because gangs in the surrounding tenements have whacked their drivers and cut off their escape routes. Worse, the police department doesn’t know they’re there because their lieutenant has gone rogue for reasons of his own.
The template movies here are not only Hard Boiled, but also Black Hawk Down, The Warriors and Elite Squad. The mood of brutal violence is set early on when the drug lord executes three bound, kneeling men with gunshots to the back of the head, clicks on an empty chamber on the fourth, leaves the revolver on his victim’s shoulder (“Don’t go anywhere, I’ll be right back.”), then extracts a hammer from a desk drawer and dispatches him with that. (I expect to see a similar scene in a Tarantino film in about, oh, five years or so.) If the violence in Django Unchained made you flinch, you might develop a nervous tick watching this. To use the Joe Bob Briggs nomenclature, there’s gun-fu, machete-fu, knife-fu, kung-fu (or, more specifically, the Indonesian martial art of pencak silat), ax-fu, hammer-fu, exploding-propane-canister-in-a-refrigerator-fu, filing-cabinet-fu, and probably a few fus I’ve forgotten. The fight choreography is superbly executed and extremely realistic. When our hero slams a scumbag’s head into three different parts of the same wall on the way down, you flinch every time.
Eventually you start to see some of the genre’s cliches rear their head (like “the traditional Asian one-at-a-time martial arts attacking style” and the old “I’m going to put the gun down so I can kill you with my bare hands” bit), but you’re pretty far in before that happens. And you wonder why no one among the survivors has a cell-phone.
But those are quibbles. It may not be as good a film overall as Hard Boiled simply because the characters aren’t as memorable, but the action scenes are actually better choreographed and more gripping. If that appeals to you, it should jump to the top of your To Watch list.