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In Jakarta, Indonesia, Lieutenant Wahyu organizes the invasion of an apartment building that is the safe house of the powerful and cruel drug lord Tama and his gang. The SWAT team breaks in the building but one lookout sees and warns the gangsters and the police force is trapped on the seventh floor. They learn that Lt. Wahyu has not informed his superiors about the operation. Now the police officers have to fight with limited ammunition against the armed and dangerous gangsters. Written by
Claudio Carvalho, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
All the guns used in the film are Airsoft replicas and not functioning firearms. All the shots of the guns actions cycling, muzzle flashes and casings ejecting were added digitally. See more »
When Rama's face is cut by a machete when hiding within an apartment's wall, it leaves a deep, ragged and swollen wound. However, when he exits the apartment his wound is suddenly much neater and more superficial. See more »
Increasingly now, foreign filmmakers are making better Hollywood action movies than Hollywood is. In this case an English director who evidently now works in Indonesia seems to have mastered all the action story tenets despite this being only his 3rd feature film. Even more, the number of layers to this story parallels the number of floors in the apartment building that is at the centre of this film. All I could think of is how Hollywood will eventually commandeer this film and make a lifeless by-the-numbers knock-off that will only stain the original. And of course, the budget of the original is about the same as a Hollywood B-list movie actor's salary.
This film is a disciple of the Asian extreme action genre, with over-the-top karate and acrobatics mixed with guns and violence. Betrayal isn't just a plot twist in these films, it's the first act. At least 5 or 6 betrayals are expected in these type of films where thieves betray other thieves, cops betray other cops, and honest guys get betrayed by best friends. What makes this film a standout is the unflinching action and well choreographed fight sequences by leads Yayan Ruhian and Iko Uwais. Early Jackie Chan movies got this kind of notice overseas because of their energy and gifted action instincts. Here, Gareth Evans is a one man powerhouse writer, director, and editor, masterminding this intricate chess match of good guys trapped on the sixth floor, with angry thugs coming up from the fifth floor and determined killers descending from the seventh floor. You feel our heroes feel trapped and vulnerable. Evans finds sources of tension from many places. The apartment building has tenants with unknown loyalties. The man heading the raid has unknown motives. Each character is well established with a minimum amount of screen time, keeping the action going.
I was urged by a movie reviewer to see this film, describing it as one of the best action movies ever made. And you have to agree, this film, after providing a few minutes of backstory, takes off straight into the police raid of the apartment building filled with bad guys and a gang lord. Cinematography takes lessons from "Saving Private Ryan", using hand-held documentary style footage during firefights, and blasting the soundtrack with dozens of loud guns firing at once. The pulsing synthesiser score also hits with the punchy music stabs that propel the momentum as the police troops make their way up to the big bad guy on the top floor.
Action sequences are creative and provide new angles and fight tactics that keep the hand-to-hand combat kinetic. Fans of the Bourne movies are encouraged to seek this out. (Not a coincidence that a Bourne Legacy trailer played before this showing). Many human moments also ground this film. An innocent man caught in the crossfire, gets asked to risk his life. A police squad leader who gets frustrated when the man conducting the raid puts his troops at risk. A child hired as lookout for the gang lord must die in order to prevent him from sounding the alarm.
There is an intensity to this film that resembles scenes from "Black Hawk Down", with very intelligent setups for conflict, and innovative approaches to getting from point A to point B. This fresh drive, propelled by good guy Iko Uwais makes this 1 hour 40 minute film zip along with no time out to catch your breath. The fact this film is subtitled will prevent it from being a widespread hit, although it will no doubt have a long life on DVD. Instead, I expect director Gareth Evans to be directing movies with 150 times the budget of this small gem within a very short time.
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