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Is “The Raid: Redemption” the Greatest Action Movie Ever?

March 26, 2012

Hunger ain’t the only games in town. While Katniss & Co. were lapping up $155 million in their opening weekend, a ragtag band of commandos was embarking on a suicide mission against a high-rise full of drug thugs in The Raid: Redemption. Although playing in only 14 theaters (compared to The Hunger Games‘ 4,000+), Gareth Huw Evans’ Indonesian martial-arts extravaganza raked in more than $220,000, earning the frame’s second-best per screen average. But will The Raid satisfy your craving for red-meat action?

And how! It’s probably not a coincidence that the film’s title echoes the popular videogame Red Dead Redemption, since the movie is a gamer’s blood-soaked wet dream. As the SWAT team advances levels towards the crime lord (the suitably hissable Ray Sahetapy) on the top floor, writer-director-editor Evans uses machine-gun fire and snapping limbs along with the propulsive score—cowritten for the American release by Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda and Tron: Legacy‘s Joseph Trapanese—to create a hypnotic, pulse-pounding soundtrack. The combat, much of it hand-to-hand, is less balletic than brute force.

You won’t find a lot of character development in The Raid: Redemption, but star Iko Uwais (a master of the traditional Indonesian martial art Silat) possesses a baby-faced charisma as a rookie—with a pregnant wife waiting for him at home, natch—who’s determined to make it out of the complex alive. Complications ensue when the line between good guys and bad guys blur, thanks to an unexpected reunion with his long-estranged brother (Doni Alamsyah), who’s crossed over to the dark side.

None of this really matters once the bullets, fists and feet start to fly. Welsh-born Evans stages breathtaking set pieces. He’ll executive-produce an American remake, but it’s hard to imagine any Hollywood director matching him for sheer energetic audaciousness. Is The Raid the best action movie you’ll ever see? Probably not, if you prefer your violence with a side of quality acting and smart dialogue. But if The Hunger Games whetted your appetite for more non-stop mayhem, you’ll eat it up.

What’s your favorite action movie ever? Jump in and post a comment!

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