The Raid: Redemption

Words by Nick Hilton.

I was the only person in the cinema. My Regal Card points had maxed to the point where I got a free sweet popcorn, the perfect compliment to my litre of Cherry Coke. The scene was set for a perfect movie going experience, despite my scepticism about action movies in general. Surely I was going to be disappointed, right? NO! Not even close. The Raid (Redemption, if you want to give it its silly and misleading full title) is far and away the best film of 2012 so far, ahead of even The Cabin in the Woods. It is an unrelentingly visceral masterpiece in how to make exciting action cinema without resorting to incredibly tedious extended fight sequences involving robots and Megan Fox’s cleavage.

The basic premise of The Raid is this: a group of Indonesian SWAT policemen are charged with bringing down an evil druglord (we know he’s evil because he executes people with a hammer and shit). The problems occur when the impregnable tower block fortress that the aforementioned evil druglord lives in, turns into a labyrinth of psychopathic, martial arts proficient crackheads. It’s an incredibly simple story (lock awesome martial arts policemen in a tower with awesome martial arts criminals) but, my God, does it work.

The first thing that needs to be said about this movie is how amazingly choreographed and inventive the fight scenes are. I have a tendency to get bored very quickly (a la The Avengers) so it’s a small miracle that I enjoyed The Raid’s sequences so much. The fights are brutal, utilising guns, machetes and a lot of fists but they’re also done in a way that is wonderfully clever and intuitive. And there’s a real element of danger: there’s no Tony Stark here, much as you might love a character, if a machete goes into his head then it’s bye bye.

Which brings us to the characters. The greatest failing of recent action movies has been a failure to provide much investment in the characters. Part of that is as a result of the lack of genuine threat, which The Raid resolves admirably, whilst another part is a lack of audience sympathy. The leads in The Raid are wonderfully convincing, their exhaustion and desperation to get out and get home is so emotionally cathartic that you’ll almost forget you’re watching an action movie. Until, that is, someone gets roundhouse kicked out a window or blown up with a refrigerator.

Endlessly creative and exhilarating, The Raid is a modern action movie masterpiece and the best film of 2012 so far.

Title: The Raid: Redemption
Director: Gareth Evans
Starring: Iko Uwais and lots of martial arts whizzes
Running time: Less than 2 hours
Certificate: 18 (1/2)

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