Tag Archives: character development

The Raid: Redemption. Action, Done Right.

And now we come to what has become one of my favorite movies of all time. The Raid Redemption is one of the most cohesive, brutal, action driven films I have seen since I first watched The Protector with Tony Jaa. And what makes it better is that a lot of people actually like it. For once, Rotten Tomatoes is right in giving it a 83% fresh rating. This movie is fresh as hell.

What should I start with in talking about this martial arts movie to the extreme? Well, its

Get your shoot on.

basis comes from some of the best. In an interview, I remember Gareth Evans saying he was inspired by Bruce Lee, Jackie Chan and earlier films of the time. But when you see this, you know it shoots right into the vein of Muay Thai, no holds barred, stunt fighting with punches hardly pulled. People are getting worked in this movie (on and off camera). And when you introduce guns into the mix, you know things are going to get even more brutal.

And there’s a plot here as well! No running after elephants and single minded goals to be had here. There’s a raid, some character development, and then a twist. Everything you need in a movie like

Br00tal.

this. Basically, Iko Uwais, now one of my top 5 favorite martial artists of all time, plays Rama, a passionate SWAT team member with a wife and a baby on the way. His team leader, Jaka (Joe Taslim) is determined to do the mission with no losses and everything in order and justified. But with the sounding of the alarm, a 30 floor slum building crawling with hundreds of crime gangs, everything is going to go off.

Other than the adequate acting in this film, I was really impressed that some martial artists I hadn’t see before showed up in this one. Joe Taslim was quite the throw artist with his specialty in Judo. His fight with Mad Dog was literally redonkulous. And then there’s Mad Dog himself, played by Yayan Ruhian. That little greasy haired monkey absolutely destroys half of the people in this movie, and doesn’t even stop when he gets a light bulb shaft shoved in his neck. Unbelievably badass. Throw in the expertise of Iko Uwais and his Silat, and you have the best 101 minutes of my life.

What I was surprised about in this movie was how much weaponry was used in a classically martial arts movie. Guns,

Mad Dog, unleashed.

assault rifles, knives, police clubs, the environment as well as the weapons available created a more realistic situation than just fists and feet. (Watch out for the Machete Gang though…) People getting thrown into furniture and off of ledges, this movie becomes so brutal everybody is shouting “OH!” while watching it.

Now we come to the soundtrack. For the U.S. and English speaking release (I mean subtitled of course), Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park was recruited to make his own original electronic soundtrack to complement the movie in comparison to the Indonesian release. What is created is what I would consider a throwback to the first two L.P. albums which is far superior to the stuff they’re coming out with now. The drums and bass come in at just the right moments to escalate your emotions and really get your blood pumping. Just like a video game, you have this rising action as you get into unique fight after unique fight. Superb.

30 floors of Hell.

Throw together all these elements and you have a Welsh director in an English speaking country that gets Eastern martial arts cinema. If I could grow up to be like him, I’d do it. The Raid: Redemption just proves that martial arts action films can be explosive, entertaining, and dramatic. 9.8 out of 10.

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Natural City: The Sci-Fi Korean Drama

I really didn’t know what to expect when I started watching this movie. What I wasn’t expecting was the formulaic Korean drama. What do I mean by that? Simple.

A Korean drama is one in which a couple in love usually has one of the lovers die in a horrendously heart wrenching way. This leaves the other lover alone to mourn and deal with all their feelings. This is a sci-fi film about cyborgs, androids, and

The picturesque cityscape really stands out in this film.

humans and a plot to bring down the futuristic city from within. I had no idea the Koreans could incorporate such a soap opera-y plot into such a steampunk film. Good on ’em for that one.

So “R” (Yoo Ji-tae) is a policeman in a futuristic society in which people can’t tell humans apart from androids and cyborgs. There’s a distinct difference though. Androids were never human; cyborgs have been outfitted with a cybernetic chip that controls and

Blood and love. All in one.

helps them function. R is one of those rogue cops who never follows the rules and does his own kickass thing. After botching up a destruction mission at a local processing plant, R must reconcile with the consequences.

R has fallen in love with a table dancing cyborg. Ria (Seo Lin) has but a few days left to live, and this film follows R’s decisions into how to save her from decimation. He finds salvation in an orphaned prostitute named Cyon (Lee Jae-eun), and finds that her existence is also in the interest of the androids attempting to use human DNA for some nefarious purpose. With the strange Cypher (Jeong Doo-hong) on the loose, R and the police force must find their own means to an end.

The look and feel of the film is very 1980’s Bladerunner feel. Yoo Ji-tae functions as a suave and gritty Harrison Ford,

Damn it, gotta love those views.

patrolling the streets for his own personal gain. There’s not much to speak of with character development on the side of the androids or cyborgs, but the presence of these untraceable electronic beings is a frightening concept. They can knock a man’s leg clean off with one punch for God sakes! Never thought I’d see that kind of special effect in my life.

Tell me that’s not Bladerunner, right?

The guns are clunky, the special effects and digital graphics are dated (even for 2003), but I liked the storyline all the same. It was more of an artsy film than anything else, and it was all about the feels. The emotional range required for understanding this movie from start to finish is not for the weak willed. It has undertones of dystopian elements, and questions just exactly what it means to be human. The ending is long and tragic, and is obviously created to pull at the heartstrings of those who watch it. It got me there towards the end, and I’d love to know what other people thought of it who saw it. Good or not? Let me know!

I’ve always liked Yoo Ji-tae (I hope I’m not spelling that incorrectly…) since I saw him in Oldboy, and I find his acting

A bit of fighting for the action fans.

style to be brutal at the same time that he is a fragile human being, just like the rest of us. This pretty boy can pack a punch with his acting, and I’d advise watching out. He just might lay you out on your back.

All the feels.

There’s no true way to describe what/how to take anything away from this movie. It’s one of those seeing and believing situations where you just have to watch it and attempt to understand what the movie is throwing at you. I’m not entirely sure what I was shown in this movie and if I even got it. So just check it out for yourself, especially if you’re always ready for a melodramatic cry. It’s a good one for that. 7.2 out of 10.


Four Lions: Terrorism at its Finest

In this dark comedy/mockumentary of the Islamic world of terrorism, four “lions” of men come together for one reason only, to attack the Western infidels of Sheffield, England in order to send a message. And what a message they send. In one of the funniest movies of the past five years, for me, I couldn’t stop laughing as these moderately incompetent terrorists attempt to lay some waste and terror all over some English peoples. There’s mishaps, wavering trust and faith, and even some exploding sheep. Nothing could be better than one of the most controversial films to ever deal with a hot button issue.

This misfit group of terrorists are really intent on blowing up something. Be it a drug store or the members of a fun run, Hell, even their own mosque, they plan to incite some rage and tension between countries. There’s Omar (Riz Ahmed), the leader of the group with the best head on his shoulders. He plans to leave his family and be truer to the Muslim faith than his bookworm of a brother. What shocked me most about this film was why Omar’s loving and beautiful wife and son are okay with all that

Some kooky terrorists on the prowl.

he’s doing. There’s Omar’s dim witted friend and “bro” Waj (Kayvan Novak). Always wanting to travel on those “rubber dingy rapids”, Waj has the best of intentions but always seems to screw it up along the way. Throw in the wild card Barry (Nigel Lindsay) the white Muslim converted Englander who feels he’s better suited for terrorist acts than anyone in the group. He screws up a lot, but will never admit to his mistakes. And there’s Faisal (Adeel Akhtar) the man who blows up crows in preparation for an airborne attack.

Hassan pullin’ off some Muslim rapping.

Bring together this rag-tag bunch of Muslim extremists and you have a recipe for disaster. They cook up bombs in their flat with huge amounts of bleach and other cleaning products and slang it around with one of the funniest escape scenes you’ll ever see. There’s arguments on what a Wookie is (a bear or not?) and whether being a Muslim rapper is the right path in life. There are some great scenes in Afghanistan where Omar and Waj go for training and one of my favorite muck-up scenes takes place there as well. Is it racist I attempt to put on a English tinted Muslim accent? RUBBER DINGY RAPIDS BRO.

I was mightily impressed with Chris Morris’ directing and writing in this film. He researched information on the situation of terrorism and the “War on Terror” prior to this film. This helped accurately represent the frustrated characters he created in this film that just want to blow shit up. Coming from an actor turned director that I’ve watched in a few seasons of The IT Crowd, his humor wasn’t represented, and replaced with a much darker and brooding one. The council scene in which the local residents in Sheffield debate about terrorism is hard to watch and quite frightening when Hassan (Arsher Ali) is introduced. Their ideals and views may come across as ridiculous, but there are those out there who believe infidels must be killed and women must be locked away.

Explain this. Word.

Get some, Omar.

Not recognizing any of the actors from this film really helped enhance the experience of watching this film. They’re all fine actors and you begin to believe they are strong extremist Muslim supporters in this film. The gorilla style of shooting and set ups are all interesting and give a gritty feel to the film. The Afghanistan shots seem a bit unbelievable but its only for a short time that you have to jump into the warfare of the sands. The conflicts and characters develop as the film progresses and you learn that there is a serious side to the film. The dark humor becomes more real and you’re forced to realize situations like this happen, the terrorists have families and faces, they have feelings and emotions just like us. It’s not so much a sympathy film as it is a humorously dark look into what exactly terrorism means outside of our own perspectives. And I applaud that outlook. This film accomplishes its comedic elements and also delivers a message at the same time. Impressed as I was, this movie does deserve all the critical acclaim it got. Best film of 2010? You got it. A definite 9.7 out of 10.