Friday, May 16, 2014

Movie Review: The Raid: Redemption (2011)

The Raid: Redemption (2011) written and directed by Gareth Evans

An elite police force is sent into a high-rise building to bring out a crime lord. The catch is the whole building is run by said crime lord as an impregnable fortress. The apartments are mostly low-life scum-bags who do his bidding; a whole floor is dedicated to manufacturing drugs. Rival gangs have tried to take the building and failed. Will the cops succeed?

Things go well at first for the cops but their luck doesn't last. Their stealthy entrance is quickly discovered and the population is turned against them. Soon enough only a handful of cops are left in the building. The crime lord has two lieutenants (one smart and one thuggish) who are sent to clear out the remaining cops. The initial gun action quickly switches to brutal martial arts combat sequences with lots of knives and machetes.

And that's really the center of the movie--non-stop action designed to impress viewers. The switch from gun violence to hand-to-hand combat is a welcome change but the violence is fairly extreme and not particularly unique. Jackie Chan or Bruce Lee or Tony Jaa or Chuck Norris have their own styles and charisma that make their films enjoyable to watch. The main character here doesn't have their charisma, even though he's given a pregnant wife to come back to. Sure, he's a good fighter and someone to root for, but he isn't as compelling as other martial artists on screen. The fights become more impressive towards the end of the film.

For me, that's not enough to make the movie recommendable. It's technically impressive but emotionally cold. If you just want to see a lot of martial arts and violence, the movie delivers in spades. But I just didn't enjoy it like other similar films.

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