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I decided to wait a full day before writing a critical review on this
movie to let my emotions die down - In conclusion i have nothing but
praise for this movie.
If your goal is to walk into this movie and be psychologically challenged or expect great dialogue you will be disappointed. There are some movies that you need to walk into and know little of what will unfold to get the full cinematic experience. I always check the ratings of movies on IMDb before considering watching them and after reading some of the other user reviews on 'high octane' intensity and non stop fight scenes i in the least expected some good action in this movie. Even with that though i thought an entire movie could not be based on fighting scenes and score above an 8 on IMDb (boy was i wrong).
This movie is earning glowing reviews because of the action sequences filmed in the movie that place you in a cinematic experience where you actually feel like you are watching real men fight for their lives. It's nothing poetic with backflips and flexible positions but simply man vs man often equipping anything in the room to disarm/disable and kill their opponent. It places you in the hot seat viewing the closest things to actual killings - Now this isn't to say the movie slows down on blood spurts or zooms in when someone is getting their throat sliced - it simply shows it how it is, it's fast, real and intense.
In some of the other reviews you hear fans praising the knife fighting scenes. This movie was incredible with it's knife fights and how effective and swift they are in close quarters. The finish was always swiftly at the throat but that wasn't before 2 to 3 lightning touches to the chest/quads or arms to disable an opponent or render them shocked in pain.
Heres the bottom line: This movie was made on the smallest budget i've ever seen for any movie to hit international screens. The director and all actors are no names that you have never heard however i guarantee that you will never watch another action film again because the raid is groundbreaking in it's reality/intensity and quality of choreography.
Every movie that scores high ratings appeals to a certain group of audiences. This is a very specific movie but is well deserving of the praise it is receiving from our users at IMDb. It is my hope to see more of this action from the director and actors cause i honestly don't think i can ever watch a fighting movie again.
MUST WATCH 10/10 Excellent.
The Raid, a new non-stop cornucopia action film, comes from the most
unlikely of sources Indonesia. But don't let the country of origin
fool you. The Raid is jam packed with some of the best action sequences
we've seen in years and audiences are sure to walk away with an
adrenaline rush punch to the gut that far exceeds their forked (over)
Starring a bunch of actors we can guarantee you have never heard of and written and directed by Gareth Evans (another name you are surely not to recognize), The Raid offers big time action sequences chalked full of gunfights, knife fights and enough hand-to-hand combat to rival any movie in recent memory.
The idea behind The Raid is remedial. A group of well armed police officers enter a 15-story apartment complex overflowing with a group of better armed drug dealers and bad guys intent on holding their ground. The police are lead by an over anxious Lieutenant who leads his squad of mostly rookies into the apartment complex where they are quickly over matched and out gunned. Their objective is to find the drug lord who resides on the 15th floor and bring him to justice. Easier said than done.
Bodies on both sides of battle fall to the ground like rounds from a Gatling gun in an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie. The police those that survived the opening shootout are split into two groups with Jaka (Joe Taslim) fighting alongside the Lieutenant and a rookie officer, and Rama (Iko Uwais) who tries to protect an injured officer while battling the hordes of oncoming baddies.
What ensues over the course of the next 80-minutes is a rip-roarin' blast of gratuitous bloodletting. The gun battles are more intense than the bank robbery scene in Michael Mann's Heat, the apartment hallway battles make the scene in Oldboy look like a Pixar film and the cops are as overmatched as U.S. Army Rangers were against an entire Somalian town Black Hawk Down.
Director Gareth Evans clearly wants you to leave your brains at the door and celebrate in violent beatings and fight sequences that were stylishly choreographed and continue with such relentless regularity that you almost want to pause the projector to catch your breath before the next group of bare-fisted bruisers hit the screen. Our two main leads take more body blows than John McClane did in all four Die Hard films and their resilience and ability to be beaten to a pulp and yet have the ability and the strength to continue fighting is beyond this reviewer's comprehension.
If there was but one small issue we had with the film it was that everyone who lived in the apartment complex had the fighting skills of an UFC righter or karate expert. Young, small, big or tall, they hall knew how to deliver a multiple high-kicks or at least take one and get right back up for more.
There is a small twist in the film that is clearly evident a reel before the actual reveal on screen, but it hardly takes away from the fun filled excitement leading up to the plot turn.
The sum of all its parts makes The Raid a must-see for anyone appreciative of non-stop battles where machetes are luxury and where a broken fluorescent tube can send a packed theatre into jubilant applause. It may lack the sophistication of The Departed, but it catered to an audience that couldn't get enough by the half-way mark and then was left gasping for air like a prized fighter in the 12th round towards its conclusion.
My number one list action movie is The Matrix because it balanced the
depth of the story with the action. Somewhere among the top list, there
was also The Dark Knight for the same reason. However, when speaking
only 'action', I used to choose a Hongkong movie, Flashpoint, starred
by Donnie Yen. Before Flashpoint, I'll choose a Thailand movie, Ong Bak
which launched Tony Jaa career internationally. Now, when I speak an
action movie that speak for the action, I will choose an Indonesia
movie, 'THE RAID', choreographed by Iko Uwais and Yayan Ruhiyan and
starred by them.
The problem with Donnie Yen's Flashpoint was you need to wait about one hour and fifteen minutes to get the action really start but when it started, it was really worth to wait. The fight between Donnie Yen and Collin Chou, inspired by MMA especially BJJ was so well choreographed and made audience hold their breath and asking "are this sh*t a real thing?". In Evans' latest, THE RAID, you won't need those one hour and fifteen minutes because he already made the audience gasps in the first fifteen minutes.
I wouldn't say a thing about Ong Bak because in my opinion, Merantau was more superior than Ong Bak. The problem with Merantau was Gareth was trying to bring audience to understand the culture of Silat first because showing the full action.You can said, Merantau was like Yamakasi doing for parkour while The Raid was the B-13 of silat.
It is useless to review this movie from the plot because there wasn't any significant plot. The plot was made only to bridge between one action scene to other action scene. But d*mn! Even with the weak dialog and cliché plot, Gareth executed it well so we, the audience, didn't have time to analyze this or that. What we know, we were flooded by f*cking awesome action movies from infiltration scene, massacre scene, and of course, martial art scenes when the characters have run out of bullets.
I remember when one of Merantau review said Merantau was Ong Bak when handled professionally. The same can be said with THE RAID. The Raid was Flashpoint with larger actions and handled professionally from the music, cinematography, and even the visual effect.
The music composed by Aria Prayogi and Fajar Yuskemal was like a combination between Hans Zimmer's Joker theme and Rage Against The Machine. It brought the audience immediately to the brutal tone of the movie. In some scenes, those music suddenly disappeared, leaving uneasiness to the audience. I wonder how Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park will interpret the scene to his score because Prayogi and Yuskemal score was perfect for the tone of this movie and it was really different with any Linkin Park score.
The sound effect, oh my, I hardly believe this is Indonesian movie. Even Hongkong movies are rarely have this good sound effect, You can differentiate between the bullet shot next to you to the bullet shot from the next room, The sound of knife slashing was so beautiful to listen and combined by the beautiful art of Silat, the scene was a masterpiece of a brutal dance of angel of death.
THE RAID has little visual effect but when they did, it was done amazingly and effectively. Frankly, prior to watch this movie, I was a little bit disappointed when I heard there will be slow-motion scene in the movie. However, Gareth proved me wrong. He was not Zack Snyder. The slow-motion was done only in one scene and perfectly executed which I hardly imagined how it should be done in other way.
Matt Flanery and Dimas Subhono as DOP played camera creatively and yet it captured all the motion perfectly. In fact, some scenes was like a scene taken from art movie due to their creative angle but it didn't reduce the brutal tone of the movie, didn't make the impact of every punch and kick weaker, in fact, in some scenes, it enhanced the "BAM!" factor.
The choreography was the factor which made this movie popular. I have said previously that even the fight scene between Donnie Yen and Collin Chou in Flashpoint had been surpassed by almost every fight scene in the movie. In Merantau, Gareth didn't want to show the brutal image of silat due to the main character of that movie was a naive and kind young man from village. In this movie, the characters are cops and bad guy, so either be killed or kill. Both Iko and Yayan have choreographed it so well so even one reviewer said "I didn't know there was so many ways to kill people until I saw this movie" and he was right. Jeff Imada (Bourne Identity) and Yuen Woo Ping will recognize these people from Indonesia and you'll probably hear about them in coming years among the top list of fight choreographer.
After watching this movie, I found myself lost my appetite to other action movies. For me, other action movies was a snack before I can watch the next Gareth Evans project, BERANDAL.
- Kunderemp -
I think other reviewers have explained the film quite detail so I only
write about the experience I get over this film.
The background story is about a SWAT team trying to bring a ruthless and untouchable crime lord to justice. However this film is only focusing on a specific event in that story : THE RAID part - that turns into a brutal, and bloody survival game. It's become a final match or showdown between good vs bad guys. And you should see it that way if you want to really enjoy it.
We don't watch a final sport's match, any soccer, football, MMA fight etc looking for the plot, do we? We come because we want a great show, excellent executions and brutal take down, and any other things that could rush our adrenalin to the max. So forget about the plot!
We enter the building along with the good guys. We scream, yell, jump etc every time they score, though some bad guys are so nasty that they also caught our attention. We are scared, worried, angry when their luck runs out. Our heart is pounding when we know exactly or we think they're entering a deadly situations. We hold our breath on some very tense moments (and this film has quite a lot of it), even feel their pain. In the end we go home feel that we're just attending a good. exciting and satisfying game - which we want to see it again and again if we can, and the good thing is, we certainly can.
The combination of the cinematography, choreography, shot's angles, the original score (I'm curious how Mike Shinoda will outperform an already good score), effects and the editing are so perfect as if you're there. And if you think the trailer is cool, it's just a tip on the ocean's surface from an enormous iceberg below. The film itself is super-super cool!
100 mins flies so fast and when the credit rolls, I still sit there, thinking if I could catch the next show - which sadly impossible because the ticket has sold out in minutes, several days before.
Of course, The Raid is not without flaws. The acting, the dialogs, the CGI, the twist - you know - those usual unconvincing stuff which you can find even in some blockbuster martial arts/action movies, can be improved. But overall it is a superb action movie so I understand the high-praised comments from those film festivals.
Now, you may wonder why I compare it to Star Wars. Back then, when I first saw Star Wars, I was very amazed not by the story, plots or the acting, but by the cinematography, special effects, the laser saber duel, the sound effects, the robots, all those hi-tech stuff which are so an eye opener that we have no choice to compare the next sci-fi movies with it.
The Raid does the same thing for action genre. And I will be waiting eagerly for the sequels or even the prequels just like Star Wars.
This film is best seen with your group of friends who enjoy hardcore and bloody fights, so you can cheer, scream, yell, sigh together and talk about it (and probably count how many ways to die/kill people in this film) on the way home. Go to toilet before the shows so you don't miss any scenes. Snacks and drinks could be considered as 'nice to have' items. I was seating on the edge of my seat and my eyes were glued to the screen almost all the time that I only sip my drink once in the first 10 minutes and haven't touch my snack until the credit rolls.
9.5 out of 10! Sorry for my English.
After seeing the trailer, I knew I had to see this movie. Rarely our my
high expectation met but The Raid surpassed it. If your seeing this
movie, it's because you want to see action and The Raid hit every mark.
The action is a mix of shootouts, hand to hand weapons, and mostly good
ol' fashioned fists.
The Raid proves again how far behind American action films are. I've seen other great foreign action films like Ong-Bak, The Protector, and Ip man but The Raid surpasses them by highlighting a martial art style not shown in any recent films. Its brutal and never lets up. It's not your typical ultra clean fighting that has been done to death but something that looks real and desperate at times as people try to survive outnumbered.
Story wise it isn't anything great but at the same time it's better than most martial arts films due to interesting twists and being incredibly well paced to before you know it its over and you want more.
If your a fan of action films, there isn't any better out there now or any even close in decades past.
NOTE: Early, gushing reviews from TIFF Midnight Madness presentations
should not generally be trusted, as many fest-goers are unable to
separate the film from the experience, and formal critical consensus
often sends most Midnight films into obscurity. Thankfully, THE RAID
earns its stripes and deserves its praise, and stands firmly above the
typically overeager reactions heaped on many other films screened in
the Midnight program this year and in years past.
- - - - - - - - - - - - - -
In the future, when someone tells you a movie is wall-to-wall martial arts and gunplay, you should have no choice but to ask them how it rates against this picture, which has so much gunfire and brutal martial arts action -- all of it meticulously choreographed in ways more refreshing than I'd ever have thought possible in this world of peak-performance Donnie Yens and Tony Jaas -- that I very nearly lost the hearing in my right ear, in no small part thanks to the tendency of TIFF sluggos to mistake volume for quality when adjusting their sound levels in an aged, less-than--acoustically-ideal theatre.
Star Iko Uwais is the real deal: wiry, lightning-fast and evidently the leader of a team of experts that truly takes martial arts choreography into new territory with this film (and, to a lesser extent, MERENTAU before it). If there's a downside to his inevitable celebrity because of this film, it's that Indonesian cinema in general will fare no better than Thai cinema has in the wake of Tony Jaa. Like Jaa, anything Uwais makes from this film on -- especially if he keeps teaming with writer-director Gareth Evans, as he should for at least a couple more pictures -- will gain instant and welcome interest from the west, while the rest of Indonesian cinema (such as it is!) will remain the domain of low-brow entertainment that caters largely to the locals, with the exception of the occasional horror movie that can be scooped up for exploitation by "Asian Extreme" DVD labels and streams in the U.S. and Europe.
What really separates this picture from the hordes of martial arts films from the region is its heavy use of Silat, the native martial art of Indonesia. I've seen a billion martial arts pictures over the years, and a million "styles" to go with them, but I'll admit my knowledge of Silat was absolute zero, and this movie turned out to be a wonderful wakeup call.
The key thing about Silat is that it involves knives, lots of 'em, and the film's heroes and villains deploy them with extreme prejudice for almost the entire duration. One stab won't do, but ten capped off by a throat slashing is a good way to gauge whether you've won the battle.
By way of example, picture the exemplary alley-fight-with-sharp-weapons between Donnie Yen and Jackie Wu Jing in SPL (a personal favourite sequence). Now, double the speed (!), and make the ultimate goal to stab, slice or otherwise eviscerate your opponent into oblivion, and you've got most of the hand-to-hand combat in THE RAID. Hero cop Uwais has this neat little trick where he stabs a long blade deep into your upper thigh, then yanks it clean down to your kneecap. Ouch! This thing is bloody with a capital B, but it's so exceptionally well choreographed, photographed and edited that you never lose sight of the geography surrounding the combatants or feel like you've missed a single blow or puncture as each new pair (or group!) of fighters grinds each other down.
Evans' editing in particular is a standout, and rather refreshingly, it isn't used to hide little bits of phony business or make the fight participants look more skilled than they really are, such as it often is in so many action pictures these days (both in western, and, sadly, many Asian cinemas; Legend of the Fist, I'm looking at you). Evans' performers know their stuff, and his editing does more showing than telling.
As to the picture as a whole, if you thought the final 40 minutes of John Woo's HARD BOILED were collectively one of the greatest pieces of action cinema from anywhere ever, imagine that cinematic Nirvana expanded to feature length, and with virtually no fat. The movie starts with a team of elite cops attempting to covertly secure a maze-like high-rise slum apartment building run by a merciless drug lord (when we first meet him, he's executing five bound and gagged men in his office, but he runs out of bullets for the fifth guy, which causes him to casually grab a hammer out of his desk drawer . . . ). Within minutes, though, his goons -- who populate every floor of the building like cockroaches, fight like rabid dogs and spontaneously appear around every corner and out of every doorway -- turn the tables and wipe out most of the fleet in a monster battle of guns, fists, feet and the ubiquitous knives, trapping just a precious few of our heroes on the sixth and seventh floors with little hope of escape.
Aside from a couple of quiet moments where allegiances on both sides of the field shift, not unexpectedly, that's pretty much it in terms of plot, and it obvious the filmmakers would have it no other way. This is a showcase, for Silat, for Indonesia and for Iko Uwais, who is very much the "next Tony Jaa" (as I'm sure he'll be labeled far and wide), for better and, somewhat regrettably, for worse in terms of his country's film industry, for he may very well come to single-handedly represent it around the globe. Not that I'm complaining after having been winded by such an audacious effort as THE RAID.
Barry Prima who?
OK, let me start by praising Iko Uwais. Of all the actors, this guy
fits the character flawlessly and is a highly likable actor. I thought
I'd root for Joe Taslim (Jaka) better because of his better looks and
taller figure but Iko is perfect.
The movie in terms of story: interesting. The premise is very simple, a bunch of cops trapped in a hellish building filled with the devil's men who knows silat and dead set on killing the cops. However, I can't really tell whats going to happen next, and there's enough twists that actually works, even if they were rather cliché (the rookie, the corrupt officers, the help from a friendly neighbor, the .. i should stop.. or i'd spoil the movie). There's nothing new in terms of plot, but that's not really a big problem. I sure do hope Gareth can find better writers to write the story next time.
What I do like is the pacing. It goes boom boom boom boom! and then it rests a bit before going into suspense mode, scary mode, and then boom some more.
Line delivery? Not very good. Some lines were obviously translated from English (it's written by Gareth himself) and some sounds quite cheesy (overused in other movies), like A: "Why us? why now?" B: "Why not?" Or "I need to get in, my wife is sick" And a bunch of others..
Secondly, some of them are not professional actors and as an Indonesian watching an Indonesian movie without subtitles, I couldn't catch most of the things they said! I wished there were subtitles!! I wished there were Indonesian or English subtitles so that the foreigners in indo can enjoy the movie as well! (although there's one guy with a manado accent who talks funny, obviously a joke which will not be noticed by foreigners) They either talked really quickly, or had poor articulation/enunciation that I couldn't hear what they said and had to ask my sister, who also didn't catch what they said, and had to ask her boyfriend. The only one actor whom I can hear clearly even when talking fast is the gang boss (Ray Sahetapi).. A veteran actor, obviously trained for acting.
By the end of the movie we also concluded that the Indonesian vocabulary in terms of curse words is so very limited. The word "anjing!" (means "dog") is used over and over, by everybody.. And the word "bangsat" (a bedbug) a few times.. "Babi" (pig) once, "kampret" (a small bat) once... They all basically means the same thing "Bastard"... So, this either means we are a really polite culture.. Or that they're trying to avoid censor.. Or that the translator for gareth's script has not enough vocabulary list... or maybe I really didn't get the badness of those animal curse words..
I mean I can think of many English curse words that is not too dirty.. Like.. Scum, filth, bastard, jerk, son-of-a...., prick, damn, what the heck, slime.. OK I don't really know how to translate those words into spoken Indonesian either so...
The fights were great. I can't comment on the choreography because I'm not a professional, but it puts you on the edge of your seat, so I think that speaks for itself. They hit hard, they fall hard, they kill hard, they die hard. I thought that some fights could be sped up a bit, as some moves looks like it lags a bit in terms of syncing, but only by a bit. If not, it adds a real touch to the physicality of the movie.
Most of the girls shrieked and made wriggling sounds during fight sequences (yes, one really shrieked out loud), and many sighed a relief, almost awkward laugh, when those fight sequences end. Which, in my opinion, means that the fights were a great success.
As an animator I felt the CG was a bit...hmmm... CG blood is slightly overused, but still acceptable, but one shot stuck out like a sore finger to me, the one where one guy falls over and lands on a balcony ledge. I really wanted to fix that animation.. Hahahaa... But again, that's because I'm a trained animator, as other people in the cinema gasped in their seats thinking that was real etc.
All I know is, it lived up to my expectations (a minimal story fight movie). I look forward to Iko, Yayan, and Gareth's next collaboration, which is this: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G0hYVksfyrQ Again, if you're an action movie fans, you'd probably like it.
High Rating and Awards? People may be tricked for the first time
because this movie comes from a very unusual country, Indonesia. It's
not often we see action movie comes from this country. Furthermore, the
casts also aren't well-known at all in the world but guess what,
they're really giving a great show in this movie. Gareth Evans, a Welsh
born writer/director/editor repeat his success creating action movie
after several years ago releasing another action movie also made in
For me, the real superstar in this movie is Rama (Iko Uwais), who was introduced as a newbie special force in the team. Fantastic martial art movements, which is traditional martial art called Pencak Silat from Indonesia truly filled this movie with wowing watcher's experience. Fast moves, intense close combat and his knife play in combat successfully increased my adrenalin. The best part of Iko was when He's about to face several people alone in a hallway. That was obviously cool. I think Iko plays the part like Jason Statham (fighting) and Steven Seagal (with his knife) but only better. The Raid was rained with bloodbath. So it's wise to avoid bringing children to watch this movie.
The other character that stole my attention was this man called Mad Dog (Yayan Ruhian). In my opinion, it'll be difficult to find this kind of man in this world. His expression and fighting style was stunning.
When I watch movies, I always intensely wait for the twists. The Raid doesn't give so many twists but it still has enough twist that improve the story. Still this is a nicely written story. Simple idea but creatively developed.
At first, I thought it'll be a one man show where Rama played the whole part of fighting till the end. But I was wrong. The Raid gives fair proportion to fighters in this movie. Rama isn't the only one that showed a great fight against the enemy in this movie. There're the sarge, Andi, the last cop in control room. The only thing that disturbed me a little bit is the original dialog which is Indonesian. I don't know but it's kinda awkward for me to hear the conversation in Indonesian although it's my native language. As I imagine, it may sounds better in English. Never mind, it's just me.
With only 1.1 million spent on this action movie, surprisingly give me such a great experience in cinema. Great movie. Great job!
Surely I was lucky enough being chosen by Indonesia International
Fantastic Film Festival (iNAFFF) committee as one of local
movie-reviewers to see it on the big screen as a closing movie last
fall. Yes, The Raid from Merantau Films and XYZ Films has become global
most-awaited action movie after won Midnight Madness Award on 2011
Toronto International Film Festival. Afterwards, Sony Pictures called
for a Hollywood remake after got the rights for international release
first including U.S. market on March 23, 2012 - same date for hometown
An elite group of SWAT police officers receive a very difficult task, invade an apartment building that has been taken over by large network of dangerous criminals led by Tama. The chief Jaka with two of his reliable members, Rama and Andi moves one level to another, only to see their best plans being sidelined. Yet character revelations start bubbling to surface which should be done by a series of immense fights using guns, knives or even bare fists. Who will be the last man standing with less victims on his side?
Director Gareth Evans continue his success from Merantau (2009) by upping the intensity in such bigger way. The location itself creates some unintentional claustrophobic atmosphere to make sure those cat and mouse fights have really nowhere to hide. Shaky-cam and quick cuts are used perfectly to maximize viewers' involvement into dynamic sense of rhythm. So, you feel like capture those moments with your own taste before transform 'em all into some certain reactions like grasp, goosebumps etc.
Jakarta born, Iko Uwais clearly made the most gigantic impact with his extraordinary fighting skills on display which known as Pencak Silat, our very own traditional martial-art. Yeah, you might compare him with Thai's Tony Jaa from Ong Bak. Combined with cold-blooded Donny Alamsyah, the duo are serious combo to beat. High-experienced actor, Ray Sahetapy also nailed his role as a super villain Tama with slick face expressions and dreadful voice tones. Another name who stole the show is Yayan Ruhian whose crazy act as Mad Dog might be remembered by the fans of the movie for a long time.
Violence is definitely an issue here, so it couldn't avoid to be rated R. Bath blood between one-on-one or group combatants are everywhere in the building. Sometimes you just don't see it clearly in front of your eyes because flashy editing from Evans are smart enough to present what should be seen or not without losing any meaning of it. "Hardcore" music scoring from Aria Prayogi and Fajar Yuskemal successfully brought the audience into silent mode for most of 101 minutes intriguing action with less predictable twists along the way.
Even though the budget is fair low, approximately $1,1 million, it is effectively spent into every department of the movie. Basic storyline, however, outplayed by convincing choreography from the casts. The Raid is a non-stop action from start to finish, let the final battle alone is near flawless. Absolutely impressive to keep audiences on the edge of their seats, even still breathless when the credit titles rolling. A must-see in the cinema to feel some rare "vibrant" experiences. Respectful Evans has deliberately sent the message towards international viewers that lesser-known Indonesian movie industry is about to change in the next few years.
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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