Monday, January 30, 2012

Sundance 2012 Movie Review: “The Raid”

Brutal and exhilarating, one of the best action films in years.

Article first published as Sundance 2012 Movie Review: The Raid on Blogcritics.

The Spotlight section at the Sundance Film Festival generally features films that have already made their premiere and have distribution. We can all give a huge thank you to Sony Pictures Classics now for nabbing up this martial arts film at last year’s Toronto Film Festival that’s now cocked and loaded to blow our minds. I love the genre, but lately, there seems to be an onslaught of these and the technical side of things has been greatly slipping over the years. While everyone seems far more interested in trying to become the next Jackie Chan or Jet Li (here’s looking at you Tony Jaa). But now, without further ado, we can also thank director Gareth Evans for stepping up to the plate.

The premise is extremely simple. A SWAT team is embarking upon a raid of an apartment complex run by the evil Tama (Ray Sahetapy). Rama (Iko Uwais) is just one of the members of the tactical team sent in to take Tama down. He leaves his pregnant wife at in bed and tells his father that he will do whatever he can to bring home his brother, who just happens to be under Tama’s rule, along with Tama’s right hand men, Andi (Doni Alamsyah) and Mad Dog (Yayan Ruhian). Once the SWAT team’s cover is blown, it becomes a fight to the death, floor by floor, to take down Tama and his band of badass henchmen at any cost.

While the story itself is as simplistic as it sounds, what Evans has managed to bring us is the most gloriously brutal and entertaining action film to be seen in years. There is some amazing stunt and camera work on display here. With a mix of “Die Hard,” “Old Boy,” “Unleashed,” and “A Better Tomorrow,” this film is a huge leap forward from Evan’s last film “Merantau.” Not to knock that film down, but here we have a guns blazing, fist-flying, stunt-filled action spectacular. If there was any movie I’d tell you to go see first, if I know you love a good action film, it would definitely be “The Raid.”

Photo courtesy Sony Pictures Classics

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