American action films are not what they used to be. We have old action stars (Stallone and Schwarzenegger) trying to save action films by mentoring and having younger stars (Statham, Pine and Crews) star in their movies to show them the way (oh boy this is already a 3 star review). But that's not good enough. Steadicams and tripods have be 86'd and have given way to shaky cam shots. Why? Because these leading "action" stars don't really know how to fight and therefor directors and editors have to use post-production trickery to make the actors look good. So if you are like me and strongly dislike these shaky camera films what action movies are there for you to watch? East Asian action films may just be the answer you are looking for!
Welsh director, who moved to Indonesia to make a Silat documentary, Gareth Evans' opus The Raid: Redemption is a piece of work for the record books. This film features a plethora of hand-to-hand combat with the fighting style Silat, as well as intense gun battles and innovative uses of everyday objects (most notably a florescent tube light bulb and a refrigerator). If you are looking for an action film that delivers in near non-stop action, as well as delivering in the feels--this is the film for you. Mind you this film is in a different language, but there is a dubbing option although in my experience I would rather read the subtitles I think that the voice dubbing takes away from the film. The film is about a team of police officers who raid (hahaha) a 15 story building, although the tagline says "30 Floors of Chaos", to take down a ruthless crime lord... that's pretty much it. But that is all that it needs to be.
Out of the many foreign action films I have seen The Raid: Redemption has some of the best acting, hands down. I insist that there are two forms of acting in this movie: regular acting and the fighting. The hand-to-hand combat in this film brings on emotions of their own. In one particular fight scene between Mad Dog and one of the Sergeants of the police force, you can feel the pleasure that Mad Dog gets from fighting with his bare hands, and the anger/frustration the Sergeant is getting from the fight. A note that I think should be made about the acting is that out of all 3 of Evans' current action films (Merantau and The Raid: Berandal) the acting is the one is the most subpar, though don't mistake my comment for me saying the acting is bad.
Mike Shinoda, of Linkin Park, has joined Trent Reznor in the list of rock musicians who have transformed into music composers. While there is an original Indonesian soundtrack to The Raid: Redemption there is also a special audio feature that lets you hear a composition by Mike Shinoda. I prefer the Shinoda score to the original score, mainly because it seems the Shinoda score follows the action more than the original score. As well as the music was I think it should be noted that the sound editor did a fantastic job. With any action film it must be an intricate process of creating different sounding hits for each punch/kick to certain body parts, and then to match up those individual sounds with the astounding number of hits must be difficult. One thing that I have noticed in most action films is the punches and kicks sound extremely fake, which brings me completely out of the film. The hits in this film sound as real as I think they would sound, so yeah kudos to them on all of the music/sound aspects!
The shots in this movie are also very innovative. Thankfully Evans decided to use more practical effects rather than CGI, which in my humble opinion really sets the mayhem apart from the Bayhem (Michael Bay films). Besides his love for old fashioned martial arts films, the reason The Raid: Redemption used more practical than CGI was merely a budgetary issue. Watching this movie you would be startled to realize that the movie had a fairly small budget (1.1 Million) as opposed to big Hollywood action blockbusters. My favorite shot in this film is when someone grabs an ax and busts a hole through the floor, he then jumps down into the hole and lands on the floor below them. Immediately the man who jumped through the hole is bum-rushed by the people attacking them, prompting the other police officers to jump down the hole and save their fellow officer. Instead of just doing a traditional jump cut, the camera (in a continuous shot) goes down through the hole so that we can feel as one of the officers jumping through the hole. This is not just a wonderful and innovative shot, it helps to make us feel more emotion towards the officers.
Boycotting Hollywood action movies by way of not flocking to theaters to see these atrocities will not make a huge difference, but you can refine your action film palate by watching this movie and some of these movies:
- The Raid Berandal
- The Protector
- Ip Man
- Special ID
The Raid: Redemption has won many awards such as:
- People's Choice Award at the Toronto International Film Festival
- Audience and Critic's Award at the Dublin International Film Festival
- Silver Screen Award at the Amsterdam Fantastic Film Festival
Once you are good and pissed at Hollywood for force-feeding us this over processed crap they call action films, then go an watch these movies that I am telling you about. Go. GO NOW!