Oh man, ooooh man, we gotta talk a bit about perhaps the best pure action flick since John Woo's UH-MAZING "Hard Boiled."
First let's talk a bit about the lineage of the great action movies. To my mind the Action/Adventure genre didn't exist until Hitchcock's "North by Northwest." With it's many locales, big stars, and the many plot twists and turns it is in my opinion the grandfather of all modern adventure. We can then sum up the next several decades of great adventure flicks with two names, James Bond and Indiana Jones. Granted there were plenty others, but if you walk up to anybody, regardless of whether they watch movies or not, they know James Bond and Indiana Jones.
Now I personally believe there is a big distinction between Action movies and Adventure movies. Obviously the two borrow from each other, and usually go hand in hand, but there are differences. Indiana Jones and the original Star Wars trilogy is perhaps the perfect realization of this genre and to this day Hollywood has the monopoly on great adventure films. Pure action movies though are a different thing entirely, and in this specific genre within a genre is where Asians show dominance over us here in the States (as I've talked about in older posts).
To my mind there are three perfect action movies. "Die Hard," "Hard Boiled," and now "The Raid: Redemption."(From here on out I'll just refer to it as The Raid) I don't feel I need to explain why the first two movies in that list are great and important works in the action genre, but now "The Raid" is not just stepping up to challenge the throne of those two flicks, it's at the very least as good as they are.
If you wanna see the most bone crunching, physical, ass whooping film in twenty years, you wanna watch "The Raid." If you're like me, and "Hard Boiled" has in effect ruined action movies for you because it just can't live up to it, you need to watch "The Raid." If you are fucking sick of seeing trailers promising a big bad ass action flick, and then just getting second rate, sedated, and phoned in Jason Statham or Luc Besson, you need to watch "The Raid." If you give two shits about movie making, you need to watch "The Raid."
In effect, "The Raid" is an action movie stripped down to it's barest essence. It gives you just enough character development and just enough story to care about what's happening, and that's it. Listen, I don't know about you, but I don't walk into an action movie so I can watch once great actors ham shit up in fake military uniforms for an hour and a half before it all ends in some ridiculous, disappointing, and ultimately ineffective action set piece. "The Raid" delivers on the promise of every great action movie made, pretty much ever. Suddenly "300" and "The Expendables" look like "Harold and Maude" and "Sophie's Choice."
To those interested in the craft of filmmaking, "The Raid" offers two important lessons, how to do sparse but effective storytelling, and how to film a motherfucking fight scene. For everyone else, all you need to know is this movie is gonna kick your ass in the best possible way.