If every low-rent criminal fought like Bruce Lee on cocaine, there would be no police.
An Indonesian SWAT Team rolls out early one morning with one task, and only one task on their hands: Seize a drug-lord that just so happens to be hiding out in his 15-story-high apartment complex, filled to the brim with his cronies. It seems simple enough, however, some kid blows their cover right from the start and gets a whole bunch of them killed right from the beginning. However, since this is also an operation that the Lieutenant himself has only committed, no back-up will be there or else it’s his ass, as well everybody else’s who’s been involved. That leaves it all up to one rookie, who’s about to be a father, to find the drug-lord, save the day, and even connect with a family member of his, if he can and has the time.
It’s been a long, long while since the last time I saw a really good action movie. Sure, the summer so has had it’s fair share of high-octane, adrenaline-fueled fests, but nothing that ever really brought me back to the good old days where people us to go against one another, mono-e-mono, without all of the add-ons like guns or knives or bats, and just get right down to it. Seems like there hasn’t been an action movie like that in a long time, and thankfully, that’s exactly what writer/director Gareth Evans gives me here. Yes, I do know that it’s taken me quite some time to get to this movie, but after missing it in theaters, and practically everywhere else for that matter, I’ve finally been able to catch this bad boy and be able to tell you that it’s exactly all that I’ve heard it as being, if not more than just that.
Yup, “bad boy” is the perfect word to describe this action-fest of sorts, and most likely will bring you back to where you would get a simple action movie, with a straight-forward plot, and some meaningless characters that just did what they had to do so the movie didn’t seem like it was terribly one-sided. However, Evans doesn’t quite care about how they do it in the old school, or the new one either, he’s just doing what he knows best and it creates for a great time no matter what type of viewer you are. It may take awhile to get going when it needs to, but once the SWAT team shows up to the huge, apartment complex, shoots their first bullet, and also their first victim, then it gets balls to the walls crazy and never lets up. That’s where the real beauty of this flick begins to show, and that’s also where all of the entertainment begins.
However, as much as the action consists of people getting either knifed or shot in the face, Evans brings a new type of action-style to the forefront that I won’t be surprised if more and more Hollywood studios start taking advantage of. Apparently it’s an Indonesian martial art called pencak silat, which may sound like a pretty lame-o name, if it wasn’t this freakin’ awesome and bone-crushin’. If you can take into consideration the fact that every crack head, dealer, or fiend in this joint can practically perform it all up to the same par, if not better, than most of the trained-professionals in uniform, then you’re going to have a ball with what this style of martial arts brings to the table. Every fight sequence, no matter how long they go on for, always brings up something new or cool that you may or may not have seen before. Regardless of whatever side of the fence you land on, there’s going to be plenty of laughter, clapping, and “oohs” and “ahhs” from your end, and that’s all fine and dandy because that’s what action movies were placed on this world to do in the first place.
Everything on paper here shouldn’t work, but it totally does because Evans knows that the casual, ADD movie-goer doesn’t want to see a bunch of dudes fighting, with a shit-bunch of shaky cam you can’t even comprehend. Simply, he knows that people want to see their action, with no frills or strings attached. What you see, is exactly what you get with these action scenes and they never, not for a single second, ever bored me. In fact, mostly the exact opposite. Goes to show you that as cartoonish and goofy as your material may be, you can still make a great action movie that both critics and audiences can both hold hands, and unit together about enjoying. It’s very rare to get an action movie that does that nowadays, but this one somehow broke through that mold and we are better as a society for it. Okay, maybe not really, but you get what I mean. It just goes to show you that an age-old premise such as this, and a tired-genre like action, can actually bring some electricity and fun to the audience, without really changing the game, or turning it on it’s side.
Just be simple; give the people what they want to see; add nothing to betray them; and most of all, have a fun time. If you can do that, the world will be a better, happier place to live in. Like I said before: Okay, maybe not really, but you get what I mean.
As for everything else in this movie that doesn’t concern dudes kicking the shit out of one another, it’s relatively minor and okay for what it is, even if that isn’t saying much. Evans doesn’t focus too much on the story to where we lose focus of what this movie’s really about, but when he does, the movie does slow down as a whole. However, I also feel like Evans knew this, and made up for his mistake in the next couple of seconds or so, and gave us another crazy, hell-bent on destruction action scene that tore the roof down again. The characters are conventional, but compelling enough to be interested in; the performances are good, even if it’s obvious that Evans is more concerned with how well they choreograph the kicks and the punches, rather than their actual lip-readings; and the story itself throws some twists here and there, but nothing you can’t see coming if you haven’t ever seen a John Woo movie before. That said, all of those aspects that are supposed to make a movie work, are here and do fine for what they are set-out to be: Time-killers whenever dudes aren’t hitting one another over the heads with whatever materials they can find or use to their advantage. In that aspect, the movie does a perfect job if I don’t say so myself.
Consensus: Not a game-changer, nor is it going to shake up the action world like I expected it to, but nonetheless, The Raid: Redemption is a great viewing, despite what type of genre you like because it’s fun, electrifying, and comprehensible action that you never get bored of, no matter how long it goes on for.
8.5 / 10 = Matinee!!