I see a lot of movies. It’s not unheard of for me to go to two or three in a given week. I sit through the same trailers countless times, often for months in a row. Sometimes I wonder if my love for movies actually is a kind of addiction, something that I could be diagnosed with.
While I do appreciate originality and wild, new concepts, I’m not always looking for films that are going to re-invent the wheel. I don’t need a “game-changer.” In fact, the quest to be new, better and different often leads to a noticeable self-awareness that is at best smart-alecky and at worst, pompous.
That’s when the “mouthwash movies” come in. That’s a term I came up with several years ago for the kind of films you put on to cleanse your palate after seeing something particularly offensive or carelessly made. When I need a break from all the inventiveness and one-upmanship, the best antidote is to remind myself of those pure works of art. And it doesn’t have to be something snooty, either. Depending on what you’re looking for, “A Nightmare on Elm Street” and “Die Hard” work just as well as “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” or “The Godfather” to put things back where they belong. They’re not just great movies. They’re a reminder of why I love this particular art form, providing justification for this possible illness I’ve got.
Indonesian martial arts action flick “The Raid: Redemption” proved to be the perfect antidote to everything Hollywood has been threatening to push on me lately. Past experience has taught me that the best stuff usually comes out of nowhere. I had no idea this movie was even playing in Athens, and I ended up seeing it on Monday night with a crowd of three other people in the theater.
“The Raid” is about as meat-and-potatoes as it gets. A van full of heavily-armed cops dressed in riot gear pulls into the parking lot of a scary-looking building that’s packed to the gills with violent criminals and psychotic drug dealers. On the top floor is the leader of the bad guys, watching over everything on his trusty wall o’ monitors. As the cops make their way through the building, bullets fly like nobody’s business, and there are more bloody stabbings than any slasher movie I have ever seen. The audience barely has time to breathe before the next do-or-die situation is presented. But that’s only the first half of the movie.
Where “The Raid” goes from high gear to mind-numbingly awesome is when the kicking and punching start. Fans of Thai martial arts films like “Ong Bak” and “Chocolate” will love the matter-of-fact way these scenes are handled. There’s no flashy editing, no stylized camera moves. It really looks like it hurts, and the fights are some of the most unrelenting and eye-popping action scenes I’ve witnessed in a good while.
“The Raid” isn’t trying to show us something we’ve never seen before. Instead, its mission is to give us exactly what we want, leaving us wondering just how much we can take. The upcoming summer blockbuster season will be full of high-flying special effects and explosions, but I can guarantee that nothing is going to be able to do across the universe what “The Raid” manages to do in 33 floors of a broken-down crackhouse. Something tells me I’ll be looking for it again by the time September rolls around.
Four stars out of five. “The Raid” is currently playing at Beechwood Stadium 11 Cinemas on Alps Road.
Source : OnlineAthens.com
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