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THE RAID (2012) ****

I’ve got to give Roger Ebert all the credit for this one. Although I had been hearing good things about The Raid for months now, it wasn’t until I read Ebert’s vehemently negative review of the film that I made seeing it a top priority. Ebert and I see eye to eye more often than not, but sometimes the man can be way off base. And whenever he goes out of his way to condemn a movie for this, that, and the other, it usually means it’s a classic. (SEE: His review of I Spit on Your Grave.) Well Roger, you’ve done it again. You’ve discovered another gem.

Mr. Ebert gave The Raid One Star and condemned it for its wall to wall violence. As an aside, I’d also like to point out that this is the same man who also gave Tango and Cash One Star. I’m not saying The Raid is quite as good as Tango and Cash, but it’s definitely a modern classic.

I think Ebert had a problem with the lack of plot and characterization, which was for me, kind of refreshing. In fact, all we know about our hero (Iko Uwais) is that he has a pregnant wife at home and he can kick just as much ass as anyone you’ve ever seen on a movie screen. That was all the characterization I needed. I instantly knew when Uwais threw down, this guy was a triple black belt in asskickery; so right then and there I was immediately endeared to him. The fact that he had a pregnant wife at home was just motivation enough for me to want to see him succeed in his mission and make it home in one piece.

Speaking of the mission, I guess I should tell you about the plot; although the film has more of a premise than an actual plot. A SWAT team infiltrates an apartment building owned by a crime lord that houses every kind of degenerate known to man. Their objective is to get in, snag the bad guy, who is residing on the 15th floor, and get out. Well, they only make it to about the 4th floor before someone trips the alarm and pretty soon the place is crawling with bad dudes brandishing just about every kind of weapon known to man. After most of the team dies in the fracas, Iko steps up and begins unleashing ass-whooping after ass-whooping on dem mofos. And then, for the next hour and fifteen minutes or so, the flick is nothing but balls to the walls action.

The Raid is kinda like a reverse Assault on Precinct 13. Instead of cops fighting to keep a bunch of crazy punks from getting inside a building, the cops are fighting a bunch of crazy punks in order to get OUT of a building. I think director Gareth Evans is aware of this too because the film has a very old school John Carpenter kind of vibe to it; especially in the early going. Actually, imagine if John Carpenter, Sam Peckinpah, and Prachya Pinkaew had an Indonesian baby and that pretty much sums up what The Raid is all about.

Although the film lacks the cinematic acrobatics of say, Pinkaew’s The Protector, Evans makes up for it in the sheer amount of carnage. People get blown up, hacked to bits with machetes, jabbed with knives, stuck with jagged florescent light bulbs, and are generally beaten more or less to death. Nearly all of the action sequences are top notch. Most movies would kill to have one action scene as good as any given action scene in The Raid. This one has about twelve sequences better than 90% of most action films. And while I don't want to spoil any of the action beats for you, I do want to say that the scene where Uwais impales a dude’s throat in a splintered door jamb made me squirm in my seat more than any horror film in recent memory.

And by the way, Iko Uwais is an action star in the making. You get a very Tony Jaa vibe from him. If this guy keeps it up, he could be one of the all-time greats.

I do agree with Roger Ebert on one thing. There is no reason why this movie should be called The Raid: Redemption because no one is redeemed. Because of that, I’m referring to the film as The Raid and completely disregarding that useless subtitle.

The Raid is by far the best movie I’ve seen this year. It goes straight to Numero Uno on the Top Ten Films of 2012, dethroning the reigning champ John Carter. You’ve got to see this one guys and gals; if only because it features a record number of scenes of badasses walking over the quivering bodies of dead and/or dying dudes they’ve just mopped the floor with. Seriously, don’t even attempt to make a drinking game out of it. If you take a shot every time Iko Uwais steps over some poor bastard’s broken and/or dead body, you WILL die of alcohol poisoning and I WILL not be held responsible.

The villain’s badass enforcer gets the best line of the movie when he says, “Squeezing a trigger… that’s like ordering takeout!”

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( 15 comments — Comment )
darksteel6
Apr. 17th, 2012 08:43 pm (UTC)
Alot of the time, i'm more compelled to see films with overwhelmingly negative reviews then those with overwhelming positive reviews(Ballistic: Ecks Vs. Sever being one example), but this one sounds like a real winner. I find myself disagreeing with Ebert's reviews a lot, his worst moment was his 4 star review of "Knowing" one of the dumbest movies i've ever had the displeasure of seeing, much as I like Nic Cage, even he looked bored during that shitfest of a movie. What bothers me most about Ebert is when he insults people who might disagree with his opinions, like he did in his review of this film and Battle: Los Angeles, I understand that his cancer gave him a new outlook on films, but that dosen't excuse him from being a dick to those who disagree with him.

BTW I heard a remake of this film is being planned, I know what you're thinking, but I think it could work pretty well if someone like say Jason Statham was the lead, and they made it even bigger(instead of a 15 story apartment, how about a 30 story skyscraper?)
thevideovacuum
Apr. 18th, 2012 01:33 pm (UTC)
Remakes to recent foreign films are a mixed bag. I'll reserve judgment on the proposed remake until I hear what kind of talent is involved.
comeuppancereviews.com
Apr. 18th, 2012 02:12 am (UTC)
Excellent review! Will be seeing The Raid this week. Can't wait!

Also read Ebert's negative review: Totally disagree.

First of all, cynical wall-to-wall violence is always awesome....second of all...see "First Of All!".
thevideovacuum
Apr. 18th, 2012 01:36 pm (UTC)
Good point, LOL! I'm sure you will enjoy it my friend.
collectedcinema
Apr. 18th, 2012 08:24 am (UTC)
Yeah, Ebert is usually reliable but does drop the ball sometimes. Looking forward to this. Heard nothing but good stuff.

Not sure about doing a remake. The plot sounds very similar to the upcoming Dredd movie. Cop and his partner get locked in a high rise and have to fight their way up to the boss.
thevideovacuum
Apr. 18th, 2012 01:35 pm (UTC)
Yeah, I heard about the similarities to this and the new Dredd movie. On one hand, I like the idea of a stripped down, down and dirty Judge Dredd movie. On the other, I can't imagine it working as well as this movie. I guess at worst it'll seem like a pale, futuristic knockoff to The Raid.
collectedcinema
May. 24th, 2012 08:20 am (UTC)
Okay, just got back from watching The Raid. All I can say is... dammmnnn, that was good movie.

So efficiently put together. Great premise, perfectly executed. Excellent mix of gunplay and martial arts. Just enough backstory to make you care about the characters but not so much you're bored. And a pulse-pounding synth-y soundtrack.

I honestly couldn't have asked for a better movie to watch. The makers of Dredd should be really really worried because there is no way their movie can be as good as this. It's going to get slaughtered by critics.
thevideovacuum
May. 24th, 2012 08:14 pm (UTC)
Glad you loved it. This movie not only kicks ass, it leaves boot prints after it's done.
robotgeek76
Apr. 18th, 2012 10:43 pm (UTC)
It feels like I've been waiting forever for this one, because I want to see it so bad. And sadly, I doubt it will even play in our local theater. That's how small of a shit-town we are. But man, you just made me even more excited! Great review! If you haven't had a chance to see Director Gareth Evans and star Iko Uwais's other collaboration Merantau, I suggest you do so ASAP. That was one of the best martial arts films I've seen in years. Just plain awesome!
thevideovacuum
Apr. 19th, 2012 02:14 am (UTC)
I just saw Merantu the other night. The review should be up in the next day or two. Honestly, I was blown away that The Raid showed up in our town. If it played here, it could probably play just about anywhere.

Edited at 2012-04-19 02:14 am (UTC)
robotgeek76
Apr. 19th, 2012 03:33 am (UTC)
That gives me hope!!! lol.
phaedravelveta
Apr. 19th, 2012 12:59 am (UTC)
I was lucky enough to win a double pass to this a few weeks back, and me and the husband drove an hour and a half up to Auckland to see it .. This is definitely one of my favorite films ever, already! I don't get out to the theatre much, (the town I live in doesn't even have a picture theatre), but I'm so glad I saw this one on the big screen. :)

If you haven't seen it yet, I'd love to hear your thoughts on The Divide .. another film that shot to the top of my 'faves' list .. :)
thevideovacuum
Apr. 19th, 2012 02:16 am (UTC)
I've heard good things about The Divide, I'll have to check it out.
comeuppancereviews.com
Apr. 24th, 2012 03:20 am (UTC)
The Raid was AWESOME! So many great fight scenes and violence!

Just a blast to watch.
thevideovacuum
Apr. 24th, 2012 12:44 pm (UTC)
I'm so glad you enjoyed it. I don't know if I would call it a game changer, but it's definitely a bar raiser.
( 15 comments — Comment )

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