by Josh Wigler and Kevin P. Sullivan
"The Hunger Games," awesome though it may be, is far from the only action movie in town this weekend. Today also sees the release of Gareth Evans' "The Raid: Redemption," an Indonesian martial arts flick about an elite squad fighting for their lives inside of a crime-ridden apartment complex.
It's gory, it's terrifying, and it's absolutely impossible to look away from. Action junkies, you owe it to yourselves to seek this one out -- there's a reason it's being put on the same pedestal as "Die Hard" and "Hard Boiled" by some reviewers. Simply put, "The Raid" is legendary. Get in on the ground floor while you can.
If you need further convincing, keep on reading for five reasons to see "The Raid: Redemption" in theaters this weekend.
Any action director can fill their movie with the most skilled martial artists and stunt professionals, but to make a truly memorable film, you have to find a star. Evans founds his star in Iko Uwais, who he discovered while making a documentary about Silat, the style of fighting used in the film. Iko was driving trucks for a living when Evans discovered him, but thankfully quit after making their first movie together, "Merantau." As rookie cop Rama, Iko can do a lot more than fight. He has a presence that you root for, in addition to kicking a lot of ass.
The Bad Guys
A powerful hero is nothing without powerful villains to go up against. "The Raid" does not disappoint on that level. Ray Sahetapy is perfect as the repulsive, reclusive crime lord Tama. Yayan Ruhian is absolutely unforgettable as Mad Dog, a true psychopath who only feels alive when death is knocking at his door. Don't forget the hundreds of other bad guys who storm against Rama and his allies all throughout "The Raid." Needless to say, the body count is very high in this one.
Guns Are Like Takeout
Think about it. Guns have always dominated the American action movie scene as the weapon of choice, but what's more interesting to watch: Two dudes firing guns at each other from across the hall or two dudes who have to beat the crap out of each other with their bare hands? Both are totally barbaric, but one makes for a better movie. As Mad Dog in "The Raid" quips, firing a gun is like ordering takeout. It takes all the creativity and challenge out of a fight scene. In a sense, "The Raid" is a master of the kitchen. There is quite a lot of gunplay, but the major fight sequences are all close-quarters and better because of it.
The Hallway Scene
In the ultimate argument of home cooking versus takeout, the extended hallway fight scene is destined to go down in action movie history. Over the course of a few minutes, Iko obliterates a host of armed criminals with nothing but a knife and a nightstick. It almost requires multiple viewings to appreciate half of the scene's tangle of punches, kicks and stabbings. The scene hits so many different movie-going emotions from thrills to shocks and gross-outs.
It Does. Not. Stop.
Five minutes into the movie, Evans slams the gas pedal all the way down and never lets up for the rest of the run-time. "The Raid" is the definition of balls-to-the-wall action. Even when the film takes a breather, something horrible is lurking immediately around the next corner. Really, the adrenaline and anxiety never lets up for a minute. It's set to continue, too, as Evans has at least one, perhaps even two, more movies planned for the "Raid" franchise. As mentioned earlier, get in on the ground floor now -- "Redemption" is just the beginning of what's guaranteed to be one of the most talked-about series of films in the entire action genre.
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