Posted on 11/12/12 09:27 PM
The Raid: Redemption is the most violent, ridiculously over the top action movie I have ever seen. It could be titled Violence: The Movie with complete accuracy. I don't think I've ever seen so many punches, kicks, and bullets before. And I know I've never seen so many furniture based attacks or men swung around by their legs. This is the kind of film that dares to ask if you can make a movie entirely out of shootouts, explosions, and martial arts, and it answers that question with a resounding yes. You can make that movie, and it will be awesome.
Let me start with a little background. I first heard of this movie in a Robert Brockway column entitled "The Most Baffling Subtitles in Foreign Action Movie History" which detailed his experiences watching a poorly translated bootleg of the film. Reading his article, I knew that this movie was the kind of thing I had to see, even without lines like "You must be rest because of both" and "After you see it I sat in s****y pants." I mean where else can you see a guy doing Kung Fu with a florescent tube sticking out of his neck?
The brief excuse for a plot involves an elite squad of police launching a raid on a rundown high rise run by one of Jakarta's most notorious crime lords. As they approach the building we get an expository speech about the villain and his chief henchmen, who are made to sound powerful and dangerous beyond all belief. Then we see them; three guys in T-shirts, the leader eating a bowl of ramen. It would seem that his reputation is undeserved. Next we see him finish eating and casually execute half a dozen men, and that impression is immediately dispelled. Then the cops enter the building, and from there it's nonstop action and brutal violence.
And I mean brutal. People are stabbed, shot, garroted, strangled, thrown through windows, crushed under filing cabinets and more. At one point a man is hoisted into the air by an axe embedded in his shoulder, slammed to the ground, then axed again. I lost track of the body count less than a minute after the first shot was fired. And there are many, many shots fired. Nor does the Raid stick to that old trope where hundreds of bullets are fired but the heroes don't get hit. Lots of heroes get hit, and most of them die. And the exploding fridge gambit was one of the most original maneuvers used in an action film. John McLane would be proud.
If the shootouts and explosions are excellent, the fight scenes are unbelievable. Beyond the standard punch and kick, you have men somersaulting out of arm locks, swinging enemies across the room by their ankles, and delivering spinning kicks to the back of heads. Heroes easily hold off three or more adversaries at a time, turning their attacks against them and impaling them on their allies weapons. This movie doesn't have time for the one at a time attack rule. The blows and parries come incredibly fast, and are only made more impressive by the fact that the moves are real. The low effects budget left no money for wire-fighting techniques, so the actors trained with Indonesian Special Forces instead.
If you are at all squeamish or under seventeen, stay away. If you are looking for highbrow fare with any kind of message or moral, keep looking. But if you want nonstop heart pounding action, this is your movie. I can hardly wait for the announced sequel, or the English language remake.