Monday, May 6, 2013

El Professore Movie Reviews: The Raid (aka The Raid Redemption)

Director: Gareth Evans
Starring: Iko Uwais, Joe Taslim, Donny Alamsyah, Yayan Ruhian
* * *
I hate trends and avoid being trendy if at all possible. That's why when I won the dvd of this highly touted Indonesian action film on ebay last summer, I stashed it away. There were plenty of other, rarer films I hadn't yet seen (that's ALWAYS the case, though) and I wasn't too interested in watching a film that has been the rage of the blogosphere, no matter how highly praised it was. But now that the hype has finally died down, I decided to dig it up and see what the big shit deal fuss was about.

Full review after the break.

As I figured, 'The Raid' was an entertaining, but overrated action packed gore-athon. The entire film plays like a third act. In fact watching this reminded me of the final forty five minutes of John Woo's 'Hard Bolied'. With just the faintest of introductions, we are off with our ace SWAT unit. They are to infiltrate a thirty story building and take down a known drug lord. Sounds like a piece of cake, except that the mission has been sabotaged, setting off a nightmarish fight for survival.

Welsh director Gareth Evans had previously scored a hit with the impressive, if cliche laden Indonesian martial arts film, 'Merantau'. For his followup feature, he sets aside any story set-up and opts for a one hundred minute thrill ride utilizing state of the art action. Though the hand held camera style was a bit distracting for me (a stationary tripod would have been appreciated for the hand to hand battles), it's tough not to be impressed by the carnage on display. The highlight was the amazing skills shown by real life martial arts instructor, Yayan Ruhian who gives our heroes all they can handle and then some. As a whole, I can't say that I was bored at any point (which could have easily happened under a less skilled director than Evans) but at the same time, I didn't feel as involved in it as I should have been. Without any sort of character introduction whatsoever, I just felt detached from it all. Yes, the suspense was there, but not the charisma. I guess that's the tradeoff when attempting this kind of film.

Though I did enjoy 'The Raid', I would hardly call it "The best action film in decades" as was quoted on the dvd cover and as a fan of classic cheesy Indonesian action and horror films of the '80s, it doesn't quite compare to the best from Barry Prima. But it'll do...

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