Tag Archives: The Protector

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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Oldboy: Doesn’t Get Much Better Than This

Based on the Japanese manga (where all good stories come from) written by Nobuaki Minegishi, what incredible things can I say about Oldboy? Considered the best in the Revenge trilogy, Oldboy comes from a very visceral place combining elements of all

Hammer time.

kinds of storytelling into one film. It’s got revenge and tragedy, theatrical protestations and all the heart and music of an opera. People have said (CNN has said) that it is one of the 10 best Asian films ever made. Let’s back that up and rephrase. There’s no need to include Asian in that statement. Ten best films ever made? Sounds good to me.

I’ve seen Oldboy twice now and I’ve been thoroughly entertained both times. The story is fresh and there’s just enough plot and action that keeps you captivated to the edge of your seat. Visually striking, poetic in the way it is formulated and the scenes are shot… Think about the snazziest guy you know that does things in such an elegant way and give him a beat-up haircut and a hammer. That’s this movie in a nutshell.

If you laugh, then the world laughs with you…

Revenge, as I’ve talked about in Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance is played with in this movie as well. Just when you think you have the good and bad guy figured out, it turns itself on its head. Sympathy is the keyword in all these films. You are meant to feel sympathetic towards all characters in this film. Nobody is spared a reason for doing what they do, and that makes it all the easier to see this as a truly brutally honest humanistic film.

Basic plot, shall we? Oh Dae-su (Choi Min-sik) was kidnapped after a drunken night out around his daughter’s birthday. He vanishes from society for 15 years and we get to see a montaged version of that process. Through Oh Dae-su’s diaries, we see the tortured mind that has no idea of his crimes or who he wronged. He writes down every name he can remember in case he has to seek

I forgot to mention Ji-tae Yu, but he did some great work in this movie too.

revenge or beg forgiveness, it’s all up in the air at this point. But, with no reason or rhyme, Oh Dae-su is released after 15 long years of seeing no one and having no company other than a T.V. This leads him on a calculated and cold chase for the man who put him away for seemingly no reason.

Choi Min-sik is a theatrical master in this film. I’m pretty sure Park Chan-wook liked him so much that he brought him back for Lady Vengeance for that reason (different character, just as good). He has a great sense of theatrical, dramatic moments, and he takes his time in delivering lines. That’s what I found interesting about this movie (and Lady Vengeance). Choi Min-sik gathers his thoughts (as a person not on camera would) and says things as if he is choosing his words carefully (no script style). It’s a very unique and non-traditional way of acting, and I enjoy it every time I see him (i.e. watch I Saw The Devil).

The cinematography in this film is a bit more fluid, but you see the same basic ideas come across in this one that you saw in Sympathy for Mr. Revenge. Long shots, wide angles, an extreme focus on the bigger picture. This movie has a fight scene from a side angle that is about 5 minutes long and took 17 takes in 3 days to make. Uncut and visceral, it’s realistic fight scenes like this that make martial arts films being made today possible. (You can see a similar scene in Tony Jaa’s The Protector.)

The plot is fantastic and the cast is great as usual. It’s movies like this that only come around once in a lifetime that everything comes together perfectly to make a film that transcends genre, style, and overall movie like quality. You feel you are watching something more real and ethereal than you expected to see with something created by man. I can’t say anything bad about this movie and I feel, for all audiences (above 13, I’d say) this movie is worth watching again and

A strange sense of Korean comedy…

again. Moviemakers out there, if you don’t already have this for your collection, get it. This should change the movie industry (hopefully) for the next 20 years. And I really hope Spike Lee doesn’t remake it…

Anyways, 10 out of 10. Obviously.

 

 


The Protector: Tony Jaa Destroys All

What more is there to say than The Protector is the best of all of Tony Jaa’s films? I’ve watched them all. I’ve seen them all. Time and time again, this is the best of the best. Tony Jaa performs at his finest in this film, in every scene. This is one nonstop action/display of skills that you cannot miss.

The Protector is the story of the ancient Muay-Thai fighters who raised and protected the elephants that would one day serve as the steeds of the nobles. The protectors raised the elephants to have strong legs and never fall, and in this way strengthened themselves. This practice extends even into modern day as a discipline among the protectors and elephants alike. And this premise makes for one amazing film.

Kham (Tony Jaa) is the son of a elephant protector who is raising a family of elephants to be viewed by the king for his own personal use. As Kham grows,

That's some ridiculous training.

the elephants have a child, Kohrn, and that elephant grows with Kham. It is then that one day the “king” wishes to see the elephants that Kham’s father has raised. The king’s inspectors turn out to be working for an Asian crime syndicate located in Australia, and they kill and kidnap Korhn and his father. Thus begins Tony Jaa’s journey of revenge on every single member of the Australian/Asian gang. And not a single member is left without at least a broken arm.

This movie, for lack of a better word, is epic. In its scope, in its stylistic vision, in its stunts and fluidity, everything. Tony Jaa pushes himself to the limit in all of his moves and stunts. Which needs to be reiterated. Tony Jaa

That's Jaa right there.

does all of his own stunts. No wires, no CGI, no stuntmen. Nothing. This film is pure Tony Jaa. At no point in this film do I ever think, “That wasn’t really that impressive.” Everything that Tony Jaa does makes my heart stop. It is literally insane the amount of things that Tony Jaa can perform in the way of stunts and acrobatics with his body that could lethally kill someone or otherwise. Suffice it to say that Muay-Thai boxing and the style of Muay-Thai fighting in general is severely brutal. This is what drew me to Tony Jaa’s films in the first place. Unlike most martial arts films, Tony Jaa’s are more brutal, less about the finesse (although it’s there) and more about the fluid, detrimental way and in which to take out your opponent. Let’s put it this way. A full force knee into your chest from an expert in Muay-Thai is like getting in a 30 mile an hour car crash with no seatbelt. Yeah. He screams devastation.

And people might say, hey, you just have some absurd love for Tony Jaa. You are obsessed with him. That may be true. In comparison to most other martial artists in the film industry, Tony Jaa brings something new.

Brutal.

Something brutal. Something eye opening. And he literally hasn’t stopped. Ever since the first Ong Bak back in 2003, Tony Jaa has given the world 8 years of solid, amazing films in the martial arts genre. And for an actor who is only really meant to do stunts, he’s not that bad of an actor in general. He’s pretty damn good at crying.

But yeah, this movie in general is a display of just how mind-blowing Tony Jaa truly is. There are about, I’d say, 4 amazing scenes throughout the film spread out by about 15 minutes each. You have the initial interrogation with boat chase, the warehouse X-games beat down, the restaurant shuffle, and the bone shattering ending. And with each one, they just get better. So it is to you Prachya Pinkaew that I tip my hat, for bringing us Tony Jaa in The Protector and Ong Bak. The world would truly be missing something if it weren’t for you. And yes, Tony Jaa, you can destroy me anytime. 10 out of 10.