Overlooked Film of the Week- #33
The Raid: Redemption
Usually, when filmmakers take on the action genre, its a thankless job. Its been awhile when since an action film made any sort of impact on the Oscars (or awards season in general), critics end-of-the-year lists and the like. Yes, I will not argue that, most of the time, the action genre is quite simple and quite silly. But I always marvel at people like Jackie Chan, Tom Cruise and even Sly Stallone for doing their own stunts. Every once in awhile, an action movie does more than produce a mindless visceral thrill. I've said this countless times, and I'll say it again, when you set out to make a movie, you have a chance to say something with it. No matter the genre, no matter the norms, you can always put your personal stamp on it.
"The Raid: Redemption" is an Indonesian film with a fairly simple set-up. A SWAT team breaks into an apartment block looking for a big-time crime lord. The crime lord finds out their coming and gets his tenants to protect him. The rest of the film is a big fight. That's the movie, it doesn't reinvent or reinvigorate the franchise. What does work about "The Raid: Redemption" is how well it handles everything else, acting, cinematography, music, choreography and above all else, the action. This is some of the very best action I have seen in awhile. For a genre that is not big on characterization, I was both surprised and impressed by how much I cared about the characters.
The action is seriously top-notch. It involves great kung-fu scenes that will have you yelling and cheering throughout. But not everything is meant to thrill, there are some incredibly brutal sequences that will also stun you silent. Its an interesting dynamic, and I give director Gareth Evans full credit for creating a film that had a healthy balance of fun and violence without overdoing one or the other. Kung fu and karate fans will have a gleeful time just watching the action scenes unfold. If karate isn't your thing, there are plenty of good scenes with guns, knives and broken light bulbs which you might enjoy.
In films like "The Raid: Redemption," they are only as effective as their villains. This movie produces a great one. Yayan Ruhian's Mad Dog is a crazy creation. Mad Dog is the main henchmen of the crime lord living in the tenant, he prefers hand-to-hand combat and he is relentlessly ruthless. Ruhian brings this character to great life, and he has the two biggest highlights of the entire movie. I can't tell you a single thing about Yayan Ruhian's career, but he's an actor to look out for, he brings an intense presence, and an extreme callous not found in many villains. All other actors do incredible work in this movie.
I cannot thing of a better thing to offer up action buffs this time of year, consider it a Christmas present.