October 27, 2012

The Raid: Redemption

A couple weeks ago I heard the guys on the slashfilmcast talking about how much they liked The Raid: Redemption. I'd never heard of it, but when I was checking out the bluray selection at the local Redbox I noticed they had it available. I went ahead and got it, and I was not disappointed.

The Raid is an Indonesian film, and the version I got was dubbed. This threw me at first, but eventually I got used to it. Sometimes they used really goofy english voices for the characters which felt really out of place when compared to the brutal fight sequences. By the end of the film I barely noticed the dubbing. In general I would rather read subtitles, but with this film I was glad I could sit back and enjoy the action without having to read the screen.

So often action sequences are composed of quick cuts and it is almost impossible to tell what is going on. I'm not sure why that has become such a common trend, but it makes it hard to enjoy a film. The Raid: Redemption has a lot of action sequences with a lot of characters but it was always extremely easy to tell what was going on and see the sweet moves. There is a hallway scene that gets pretty crazy, but the entire time I could understand exactly where our hero was at, where the bad guys were, and how many more of them he had to take down. If you like well-shot action you should appreciate what this movie is able to do.

Another trend in action films is to show everything up to the kill shot, and then cut away right at the last second. You might see someone thrust a knife at a bad-guy's chest, but it always cuts away before impact. I understand why it is done, but I didn't realize how accustomed to it I was. Your mind tricks you into thinking you are seeing people get killed. The Raid doesn't cut away. It lets you witness every single gunshot and stabbing. I was amazed by how shocking and unsettling I found it. I thought I was watching gratuitous violence before, but when it is followed through to completion, it goes to a whole other level.

The Raid also has some great attention to detail. In the hallway sequence I mentioned above there is a lot of knifing. There is a moment were a knife gets thrust into the upper thigh of a dude, then dragged down to the kneecap. It is a very quick moment, but it hit me hard.

Aside from the excellent action The Raid doesn't offer much. I never cared much about the over-arching story, or the implications for our hero. It was never clear to me who the bad-guy was and why they were there to get him. There are a few moments where it goes into dialog and tries to create (or remind us) there is a narrative. I didn't care anything about that. The film ultimately feels hollow. It just serves as a way to display really cool and well choreographed fight sequences. And you know what... I am okay with that. In a week I will completely forget what the movie was about, but the image of that knife being dragged though a guys leg will stick with me for a while.

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