The Raid: Redemption (R)

9 Stars

Kung fu needs a new publicist.

Somewhere along the way, martial arts acquired a bad reputation.

Perhaps Keanu’s been over-quoted.

Regardless, a number of great movies from the past few decades feature hand-to-hand combat: The Matrices, Shanghai Noon, the Rush Hours, Rumble in the Bronx.

[Sidebar: Top two films involving a woodchipper: Rumble in the B and Fargo.]

Now, hesitation’s healthy when a martial art is all a motion picture offers.

The Raid: Redemption is a lot more than just kung fu.

If I ever review an entirely male-oriented flick, it’s The Raid.

It’s often compared to another movie released around the same time, because both flicks portray an assault on a crime-ridden high-rise.

Dredd, however, isn’t good.

Lena Headey as the cruel antagonist, and SLO-MO (the reality altering drug) are the only redeeming aspects in that overrated reboot. Everybody that played GoldenEye 007 on N64 is well-aware of proximity mines, smoke grenades and the like.

On the contrary, The Raid is fantastic.

The fellow who owns the criminal complex being raid redeemed has an interrogation room with a chain restraining system. It’s a chamber specifically suited towards information extraction via shackled prisoners.

Speaking without hyperbole, Raid: Red contains the single greatest action sequence in cinematic history.

Gareth Evans deserves a standing ovation for the fire-axe scene.

The tension is multi-layered as the characters realistically adapt to an evolving conflict. There are varied threats and the individual movement through the scenery (plus the interplay with props/weaponry) is magnificent.

It’s a delicate waltz, my Friends.

A riveting score overlays elaborate choreography, creative stunts and sharp camerawork.

The Raid is originally an Indonesian film and Sony Pictures tasked Mike Shinoda (of Linkin Park and Fort Minor) with creating a new score for the U.S. market. The Shinoda scored version made its U.S. debut at Sundance 2012.

The fireaxe is just one of many great scenes though. Rent it and see for yourself.

The stakes are high. The plot is smart and dark.

Neither slasher nor ‘torture porn.’

It’s as good as action gets.

Somebody at the festival must have noticed the issue with the subtitles, right?

Whoever translated the closed captioning did very poor work. One of the main barriers between non-viewers is the necessary reading, so naturally a minimalist approach would seem appropriate.

There were subtitles for grunts, music notes to indicate the swell of Shinoda’s composition (which goes against the very nature of a film score), footsteps and other sound effects. This would make sense if America were a deaf culture.

One subtitle in particular, “Okay [English],” appears toward the middle of the film. This is more than a distraction. It’s especially problematic because it instigates needless confusion.

Why the distributors haven’t fixed the closed captions (especially now the sequel’s been released) is beyond me.

But behold; I let it go. You will too.

If you’re a lady who loved The Raid, please set me straight; your comments are welcome below!

Gentlemen – go nuts.

Thoughts, perchance?

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