I am of the firm opinion that an experienced film critic should, at all times, avoid using things like hyperbole and superlative. Phrases like "best chase scene EVER" and "scariest horror film ever made" do nobody any good, aside from perhaps publicists, and should always be avoided in favor of insightful commentary, descriptive reasoning, and hopefully some actual insight on the film itself.
Having said that: Gareth Evans' The Raid: Redemption is, without a doubt, one of the baddest-ass pure action movies I've ever seen. To borrow a reaction from the 14-year-old me, "WOW! The action just doesn't stop! And it's all real! SO COOOOOL! Let's watch it again right now!"
That's how I feel about The Raid. And if you're the sort of person who turns their nose up at the thought of subtitled films, I feel true pity for you, because this powerfully entertaining Indonesian action thriller goes down like a big bowl of cinematic candy. The action, the intensity, the purely wonderful mayhem just keeps building up. Suffice to say you'll probably need a nap after watching The Raid, but not before you hit Twitter to exclaim your love for the manic marathon you just endured.
Simple and straightforward in the crispest way, The Raid is about a squad of intense policemen who are tasked with cleaning out an apartment building that's filled with the lowest of the low, the meanest of the mean, and the most violent motherfu... you get the point. The very basic plot structure is a blessing: writer/editor/director Gareth Evans brings a "horror flick siege" vibe to the proceedings that presents a tasty intensity that doesn't stop escalating until the end credits. Martial arts, gunplay, clever explosions, and plain old ass-kicking are the specials of the day, and boy oh boy does The Raid deliver.
Much more than a mere vehicle for the stunning martial arts skills of lead actor Iko Uwais, The Raid embraces its simplicity as a badge of honor. This is not a typical American action movie in which three or four lumbering action scenes interrupt a chat-laden plot about something boring. This is more like a movie version of a particularly violent video game, and it sure seems like Mr. Evans is having a hell of time here. His action sequences are clever, frequent, powerfully violent, and punctuated by brutal moments that will have action fans cheering. Call the plot simplistic if you like, but there's nothing simple about creating a movie this energetic, exciting, and novel.
By the time The Raid actually manages to wedge a few juicy story threads into the virtually non-stop mega-violence, you'll actually appreciate the small respite -- but Evans and all involved know why we're here: to experience one of the most consistently kinetic and certifiably insane action movies ... maybe ever. But there's another superlative, and we all know how I feel about those. Let's put it this way: if you see The Raid: Redemption, and you DON'T have a ball with the flick, you should just give up on action films forever.
Note of mild pertinence: my very old friend Todd Brown (of Twitchfilm) is one of the producers on The Raid. This might have caused a minor conflict between us if The Raid was not something unquestionably special. Happily it is. You'll see.