I know that many of you are looking forward to seeing the Hunger Games this weekend. That's cool. I'm going to go see it too. But while Gary Ross' remake of Battle Royale is appealing, Gareth Evan's remix of Assault on Precinct 13 has my complete and total attention.
The Raid: Redemption has a very simplistic plot: A SWAT team is ordered to clear a building full of criminals. The criminals get wind that they are coming. They let the the SWAT team get halfway into the building before springing the mother of all traps. Again, nothing very complicated here. It's essentially a survival horror sans zombies. A fierce fight to the death in which everyone's back is against a wall. But simple doesn't have to be dumb. The Raid proves this point with panache.
The Raid is also a truly international movie. The Welsh director is a relative unknown named Gareth Evans. Iko Uwais, a renowned Indonesian martial artist, serves both as star and stunt coordinator. The soundtrack we will hear in the States was composed by Linkin Park's Mike Shinoda. The movie was shot and edited outside of the Hollywood studio system by a firm called XYZ. It was then purchased and polished a bit by an American studio. Perhaps that explains what it's getting such great reviews:
"It is ballet with bloodshed, more jaw-dropping than any large-scale battle."
"Extraordinary stunt and fight work and nonstop excitement, but a warning to those who are at all squeamish: this may be the most violent movie I've ever seen."
-Christian Science Monitor
"Writer/director Gareth Evans single handily atones for the crimes of every lame action film pumped out of the studio system and crafts one of the greatest martial arts films of all time."
"This electrifying movie isn't just a collection of gory moments. It actually goes somewhere."
"I am dismayed. I have no prejudice against violence when I find it in a well-made film. But this film is almost brutally cynical in its approach."
The Wiki does a great job of telling the story of how a man from Wales ended up directing an Indonesian cast in what is perhaps the best action movie of the past decade. (And that Hollywood wants to make a remake instead of putting all their advertising mustle between a sure thing tells me all I need to know about the state of the American movie industry right now.)
Hopefully, The Raid will be playing at a theater near you. If not, I guess you can go enjoy some archery.
[A bit of a disclaimer: One of my high school friends was involved in the production.]