“The Raid” Redeems the Action Film.

What I miss most about the demise of the video store is the joy that comes with discovering a movie that never played in a local theater or breezed in and out so fast it might as well have never played at all.   This was the case with The Raid: Redemption .   It stuck into local theaters and out again before most American audiences got a chance to check it out.   Now that it’s out on DVD and Blu-ray, we have a second chance at redemption.

What does it take to breathe life into a tired genre?   If you’ve seen one “SWAT Team takes on the mad drug lord and his bloodthirsty henchmen and everything that could go wrong does go wrong” flick, you’ve seen them all.   But not until you see this one!  It will peel your eyeballs back.  Stuff gets real crazy real fast and it does not let up until the credits rolls.

I won’t tell you The Raid features of sparkling dialogue, great performances, a finely written script or even makes a lot of sense.  It’s a smash your head against the wall,  blow your hair back action movie that starts quietly (briefly) and gets loud, wild and way past your expectations.

What’s the story?  Who cares about the story?   Someone gets credit for writing a story and a screenplay, but none of it matters.  The director Gareth Evans is too busy zipping  from one teeth-ratting beatdown to worry about screenplay, characterization, motivation or anything that gets in the way of  the next big brawl.    This is 101 minutes of “DAMN!” moments and there are plenty of “damn” moments here.  There must have been a few stuntmen that thought at least once, “I’m not getting paid enough for this.”

This is an action movie with  makes no pretensions of being anything but that.   Here’s the plot summary.  Rama, (Iko Uwaus) a  rookie cop and expectant father is part of a 20 man SWAT team detailed with assaulting a 30-story high-rise in Jakarta to take down a ruthless  drug lord (is there any other kind?).   What they don’t know is the drug lord has cameras all over the building and once he has the cops trapped in the towers, it turns into a vertical run to the top to reach him before they are all slaughtered by the gang members.

I got your police brutality right here!

What we have here is a video game movie that isn’t based upon a video game, though it should have been since it’s just like a role-playing game.   The protagonist starts off armed to the teeth with shotguns and pistols and truncheons and as he works his way though the hallways he encounters increasingly tougher opponents until he gets to the main henchman, the appropriately named Mad Dog, a sawed-off little bastard with the worst case of Short Man’s Disease ever.

Remember that scene in Pulp Fiction where John Travolta has to give Uma Thurman a shot of adrenalin to bring her out of unconsciousness?   The Raid is a shot of pure adrenalin and it will hit you right between the eyes.    Why bother with Sly Stallone and his decrepit band of  80’s action stars turned  AARP ass-kickers in those tired Expendables movies when there are real martial artists making butt-kicking epics like this?

The Raid won’t win any Academy Awards and it’s about as deep as a puddle, but man it is a total rush.    As soon as it was over I wanted to watch it all over again.    It raises the roof and brings it crashing down on your head, and you’ll love every dazzling, bone snapping second.   The Avengers was the most fun I had at the movie theater this year.  The Raid is the most fun I’ve had watching a movie at home this year.

“Where’s that Sly Stallone sissy?”