Dir. Gareth Evans
The best martial arts film in years is not only eye-opening in its dynamic stunt sequences but also in how it manages to successfully recycle ages of the most simplistic dramatic framework. Since there is an American remake of The Raid already in the works, perhaps they’ll gussy it up and cram in layers of needless sub-plots, back stories and double crosses. In what is essentially a police corruption story, there’s opportunity for more plot but it’ll likely be a shame. Fingers crossed, but even if you set-up complex red herrings that end up paying off in spades - it’s really only getting in the way of the sublimely ridiculous violence on display. As it is in the original flavor, Indonesian The Raid (retitled The Raid: Redemption for obscure U.S. distribution purposes but hopefully playing at a theater near you) it’s a dull framework that is nonetheless more than sturdy enough to hang an hour and a half of head spinning camera and body movement. Taking place entirely during a police raid on a powerful drug lord’s apartment complex, Gareth Evan’s camera floats through the walls and ceilings as Iko Uwais’ noble policeman’s fists, elbows, knees, knives and bullets deftly hit their targets. It combines the best of John Woo and Jackie Chan - something that seems like simple enough an equation but the only martial arts film since their heyday that has come close to capturing the exhilaration of The Raid is the Thai one-two punch of Ong-Bak and Chocolate. Of those two I greatly prefer Chocolate - so much so that I’m hesitant at this point to declare The Raid superior. It wouldn’t be fair since I’m still under the spell. But it’s not out of the question.