An internal conversation between Ed Johnson-Ott and his 15-year-old inner child.
EJO: In the mood for virtually non-stop brutal, inventive action? Welsh-born writer/director/editor Gareth Evans' Indonesia-shot film deals with a group of cops trying to catch a gangster kingpin in a 15-story building. In the way are countless henchman and other complicating factors. For instance, there's the leader of the police team, who may be...
Ed's 15-Year-Old Inner Teen: You're describing the plot!?! Give me a break - there's cops, crooks and two brothers, one on each side. That's all you need to know. The movie's kick-ass! Write about that.
EJO: Yes, the film is kick-ass, but it still needs to be put into context. There's director Evans, whose film Merantau was also set in Indonesia...
Lil' Ed: Nobody cares! Get to the fighting!
EJO: Fine. Although there are guns galore, the main hand-to-hand fighting style is silat, an Indonesian martial-arts discipline I've never heard of before. It's dirtier than the more well-known styles and great to watch. I loved how the fight scenes were edited by Evans - he cuts away at the moment of contact, sometimes two or three times in a row, then slams you with a grisly impact visual, keeping you off balance throughout the extravaganza.
Lil' Ed: Now this is more like it.
EJO: As the cops work up through the various floors of the building, an interesting thing happens. At first you care about the heroes' health, because really, how much can a body take? But as time passes and the cops keep getting treated like punching bags, then shaking it off and moving on, the production starts feeling more overtly like a video game.
Lil' Ed: Oh please, don't start carping because the movie unfolds like a video game.
EJO: I'm not. In fact, I like the way Evans takes the video game format and uses clever editing and camera work, incredible fight choreography and shocking imagery to up the ante. There are numbing moments, but for the most part the movie had me. And I appreciated the brothers-on-opposite-sides storyline with rookie officer Rama (Iko Merantau) and his crooked brother Jaka (Joe Taslim), because it added a welcome dose of emotional weight to balance out the characters' ludicrous resilience to the nonstop beatings they take. Ultimately, I'd recommend The Raid: Redemption to action fans and any 15-year-olds that can get an adult to take them. Sensitive souls may wish to seek other entertainment. Your final thoughts, Junior?
Lil' Ed: We should mention that the film is subtitled, but that doesn't matter, because this movie doesn't need many words. It kicks ass, period!
EJO: I found it very entertaining, with some reservations.
Lil' Ed: Be quiet, old man. You can go back to writing about depressing British art films next week. For now, pull the broomstick out of your ass and just have fun.
EJO: Get off my lawn, kid.
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