Thursday, March 15, 2012

THE RAID delivers and you shall receive!

THE RAID: REDEMPTION (2011- Indonesia)  Original Title: SERBUAN MAUT.  Sony Pictures Classics.  D: Gareth Evans.
One of the most savage, speed thrill martial arts films every made.  It's like the finale of Jackie Chan's original POLICE STORY on steroids- just plain nuts and ridiculous by all civilized standards.  An orgy of bone-crunching, head-slamming, machete chopping, sweat-soaked, blood-drenched insanity.  And that's me trying not to over-hype this picture with gushing, bloated rhetoric!  A SWAT team raid on a  drug lord's tenement results in a floor-by-floor bloodbath obstacle course that only a few souls survive.  Plotwise, that's about it.  The beautifully minimal premise sets up a GAME OF DEATH type structure as we get to know a handful of officers on a suicide mission to apprehend a drug kingpin on the top floor.  The characters are sketchy and minimalist as hell but we know just enough to actually care about two brothers on opposite sides of the law.  There is a hint of male bonding but it never gets too sentimental or overblown in the John Woo/Hong Kong tradition.  All the performers are excellent and you really feel their pain throughout!  Welsh director Evans somehow has created one of the most epic, detailed and complex kung fu films ever!  It's hard to believe that he's not a veteran stuntman or martial artist himself.  The choreography (highlighting an obscure style of Islamic based martial arts- as opposed to the Tony Jaa-style Muay Thai) is sophisticated, lighting fast, stylish and brutal.  The camera work is just as breakneck and melds to the action making the viewer a participant.  Evans is the man to helm a much-needed digitial 3D martial arts slaughterthon.  Evans directed two previous action films but this is the one that will put him on the map.  Features a suitabley harsh and heavy  electronic score by Linkin Park's Mike Shinoda.  There's a pointless Hollywood remake in the works and two more films to round out a trilogy.  Unfortunately, plans call for more back story to explain what led up to the raid.  I hate back stories and lots of good movies and franchises have been ruined by it (think STAR WARS!).  Any real action or kung fu fan can not afford to miss THE RAID and expect to resume a normal life.  I can't say enough good things about it and I don't want to sound like a drooling, bribed studio shill, so I'll stop now.  The film opens theatrically in select major markets on March 23rd.  You'll want to shower immediately after.

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