If you care now, have ever cared, or are ever planning to care about the state of contemporary martial arts cinema, then I probably don't need to tell you that you should already be psyched out of your mind for The Raid. If, however, you've managed to miss out so far on the buzz for the single most important hardcore action movie in a decade at least (I think Ong-Bak has finally met its match), then here's the lowdown: this is the second collaboration between rising Indonesian martial-arts star Iko Uwais and Welsh-born writer-director Gareth Evans, the first being 2009's Merantau, itself a pretty respectable if unspectacular riff on Ong-Bak that served mainly to introduce the viewing public to the underexposed native Indonesian martial art silat.
That's alright though, because Merantau was little more than a proof of concept. It was the appetizer and now we can see the waiter threading his way to our table with a big, juicy, mouth-watering main course. I'd say it looks indescribably awesome, but if you've watched the trailer, you hardly need me to sell you it any more than it already has. Me, I've been operating at what I thought was optimum hype capacity since the Indonesian trailer hit late last year, but now my brain seems to be overclocking. Seriously guys, holy fucking shit.
One fly in the ointment though, is the new decision to append the useless subtitle Redemption to a title that, to be honest, isn't all that inspiring to begin with. I mean, why? What consumer, exactly, is going to be swayed on purchasing this film by the presence of what amounts to one more word obscuring the poster art? It's not just that Redemption is one of those handful of words that also includes Revelations or Requiem or Evolution that can be thrown into any title without it meaning a goddamn thing, but that this very same subtitle was used for another martial-arts flick that achieved a healthy cult following less than two years ago, and it was at least somewhat justified in the case of Undisputed 3 given that it was a) a sequel and b) a film where redemption actually figured into the plot thematically. Y'know, as far as theme can be read into any flick about a surly Russian kicking men in the throat.