About to hit — and I do mean hit — Blu-ray and DVD after a limited but lauded theatrical release in April, the film carries the barest of plots. For 10 years, a much-feared mobster in a 15th-floor compound has ruled over a decrepit apartment building housing not only his narcotic enterprise, but also the dregs of society. Finally, the local SWAT team has garnered the guts to take it down, one ascending stairwell at a time – corner by corner, room by room, floor by floor.
The mission goes as planned until the fifth floor, when the proverbial crap hits the fan. From there, the team is forced to take routes unintended as they battle the den of thieves and junkies. Weapons employed on both sides include guns, knives, an ax, a machete and even a refrigerator.
And naturally, good ol’ fists and feet. This high-concept shot of adrenaline pays off the promise of writer/director Gareth Evans’ so-so 2009 chopsocky effort, Merantau, offering one inventive, powerhouse sequence of action acrobatics after another, with precious little breathing time left in between.
The only downside is that it eventually exhausts the viewer; 89 minutes versus 101 would have been perfect, but Evans attempts to infuse a little brotherly love in Act 3 for added weight. The Raid doesn’t need it, because scenes of people plummeting from balconies is purchase-worthy alone.
I could not tell the difference between the R-rated version I saw back in March and the Blu-ray’s unrated version. I’m guessing it comes down to a matter of a few frames here and there. However, what I do know is that five months later, The Raid: Redemption remains one of 2012’s most satisfying films so far. As far as orchestrated action, nothing in The Avengers or any other summer blockbuster comes close.
The Blu-ray offers several screens worth of interviews and featurettes, many involving Linkin Park leader Mike Shinoda, whose terrific score provides Evans’ movie with much of its all-out forward drive. The two brightest spots are the briefest: a faux ad for the “circa 1994” Raid anime series, purposely poor tracking and all, and a three-minute version told via stop-motion claymation cats. Both are fan-made, speaking to how quickly movie lovers have embraced this no-hugs flick. —Rod Lott
Hey! Read This:
• The Avengers film review
• Merantau Blu-ray review