Sony Pictures Classics, 2012.
The Dinner: Sweet and Sour Chicken and Chinese Broccoli with Garlic Sauce at Genghis Khan Restaurant .
The Movie: The Raid:>"/>
Sony Pictures Classics, 2012.
The Dinner: Sweet and Sour Chicken and Chinese Broccoli with Garlic Sauce at Genghis Khan Restaurant.
The Movie: The Raid: Redemption at Metro Cinemas.
The Screenplate: Since the release of Neveldine/Taylor's frenetic, surreal action masterpiece Crank in 2006 and the introduction of Red Digital Cinema Camera Company's low-cost, high-resolution digital film cameras, the "Hard-R" action film has gotten pretty outlandish, even by the standards of a genre defined mostly by explosions and gun pointing. Films like Shoot 'Em Up, Hobo With A Shotgun, Machete, and Grindhouse took the tongue-in-cheek nature of the violent exploitation films popular in the '70s and expanded it to cartoonish effect, creating larger-than-life superheroes that could shrug off any real sense of danger with an explosive backflip and a wink to the audience.
While these films can be loads of fun, the resurgence has left certain "pure" action film fans out in the cold in looking for the more grounded tales of mayhem and mass murder that experienced a bit of a renaissance in the '80s. The bone dry repartee of Sylvester Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger left after mowing down hundreds if not thousands of faceless henchmen might have been absurd, but it wasn't nearly as vigorous of an assault on audiences' suspension of disbelief as say, Danny Trejo riding a bad guy's small intestine down three stories of an office building.
The Raid: Redemption offers solace in an action throwback experience that doesn't seem burdened by postmodernism or smartass film students cracking themselves up behind the camera. Most of the film's fight sequences (and there are MANY) are primarily influenced by the rarely showcased Indonesian martial arts of Silat, rather than any beloved beat-em-ups of yore. The film is an open vein of fresh perspective in the genre, offering a refreshingly linear story that rarely ever lets its heroes walk away from a hail of bullets or otherwise hide from the immediately dramatic circumstances.
The film wastes little time in filling you in on the dichotomy: the good guys are harried rookie cops barely keeping their heads above water in one of Jakarta's most corrupt slums, bursting down the doors of its most notorious fortress of sin, where men are executed en masse by what look to be the most bored people I've ever seen put bullets through heads. Luckily, spirits pick up when the titular raid hits a snag, any possible back-up is taken out, and the building becomes the world's most knife-stabbingest video game, with a ruthless drug lord frequently taunting our heroes via intercom from the last level.
Above all, I can't stress enough the amount of stabbing that goes on in this film. Speaking historically, this movie does for stabbing what Raging Bull did for getting punched in the head, or what the Twilight series did for painfully awkward emotional abuse. The Raid starts out in close quarters and rarely ever comes up for air, making it one of the most thrilling theater experiences I can boast of having in a slurry of overly complicated, rarely coherent blockbuster disappointments.
Downtown Seattle's Genghis Khan Restaurant might not share The Raid's filthy tenement walls and difficulty going even one second without some occupant's back, neck or arms being broken, but they have definitely been an ally for sweaty masses who would soon pack themselves into the neighboring Showbox. While Genghis Khan apparently boasts a mean slow-cooked duck, its most obvious strength lies in speed, simplicity and low prices (including some truly formidable drink specials).
So while The Raid has only managed to eke out a dishearteningly limited release in the U.S. initially, Genghis Khan's extended delivery hours and impressive scope will serve no small portion of Seattlites and this film as it ages inevitably into the Netflix queue of thoroughly stoked midnight movie enthusiasts for years to come.