SXSW Review: “The Raid: Redemption”
1 Ruthless Crime Lord. 20 Elite Cops. 30 Floors of Madness
Quick, what’s the best action film you’ve ever seen? Got it? OK now forget that shit – because “The Raid: Redemption” is officially the king of balls-to-the-wall, bad-ass cinema.
It makes “Die Hard” look like “Chocolat” – OK, so that might be a bit of hyperbole on my part but still, this is my favorite action film, hands down – no questions asked. An exhilarating film that refuses to be anything less than spectacular.
Directed by Gareth Evans, “The Raid: Redemption” is an Indonesian martial arts action film set in the Jakarta slums, where a desolate apartment building has become an impenetrable fortress for the world’s most dangerous killers and gangsters.
An elite team is tasked with raiding the derelict apartment complex in order to take down the notorious drug lord that controls it. After being spotted, the squad’s cover is blown and the entire building is put on lockdown.
The lights are cut off – all exits are blocked. The team is trapped with no way out and must fight their way through a gauntlet of Jakarta’s worst criminals to survive.
It’s simplistic, and that’s why it’s so fucking great. Hollywood has this idea that an action film is a chase scene here, a shootout there, while trying to work in some overly complicated story in-between that never works.
Think about films like “Bad Boys” or “Expendables” or “Transformers” — three or four major action sequences spread throughout a two-hour film. The rest is filler: needless exposition and witty banner between characters that no one even cares about.
“The Raid: Redemption” sheds all the unnecessary bullshit and gets right down to the action, with a hero who you actually do care about – a cop (Iko Uwais) with a pregnant wife at home who will do anything to survive and get home to her – including stabbing and slicing his way through an entire building of crazy-ass killers. Every minute of this film is drenched in glorious violence.
The fight choreography is stupefying. You’ve never seen anything like this. Everything is moving so fast, insane martial arts action with machetes and broken florescent light tubes – nightsticks and machine guns – it makes any other fight sequence boring in comparison.
Much in the way that “Cabin in the Woods” has changed the horror genre, “The Raid: Redemption” has roundhouse kicked the action genre to the face and crushed its skull against a concrete wall – action can’t (and won’t) get any better than this.
The Paramount Theatre practically exploded with cheering and applause during the movie – 1200 bloodthirsty movie geeks screaming with delight at every brutal, bone-crushing move. If you like violence and over-the-top, bat shit crazy action, “The Raid: Redemption” is now your God. Bow your heads and let the ass-kicking begin!