Last week, I told you about how awesome it was to watch Warren Ellis: Captured Ghosts at the Toronto Underground Cinema. The next day, I got the flipside of the movie-watching experience by going to the Scotiabank Theatre to catch The Raid: Redemption. And by flipside I don’t mean anything about the quality of the film—just everything else surrounding it.
A quick comparison: the TUC was a bit run-down; Scotia was slick and clean. The TUC was reasonable in its pricing; at Scotia, a bag of popcorn was as much as the admission at TUC.
But aside from the aesthetics, the biggest difference between the theatres was the attitude of the employees. The guys at the Toronto Underground Cinema seemed as though they genuinely wanted me to enjoy the show. At the Scotiabank Theatre, the bored teenagers behind the various counters couldn’t care less.
It’s a matter of sincerity. As I said in my other post, TUC seems to me to be run by people who love movies with everything they’ve got. Scotia is just one faceless corporation running another faceless corporation. Where’s the love?*
Anyway, The Raid. It’s called The Raid: Redemption for the American release, but its title is really just The Raid. It’s an Indonesian action/martial-arts flick (Serbuan Maut is its Indonesian title), subtitled in English, and it features silat, a style of martial arts that often incorporates weaponry, usually daggers. It first premiered at a Midnight Madness screening (of course) at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2011—in fact, it won the Midnight Madness award.
Here’s the premise, and it’s dead simple: a SWAT team invades an apartment building to take down a crime lord. But the crime lord is expecting them, and he locks down the building and sets loose all the gangsters and killers to go enjoy themselves. Now the police are trapped and have to fight their way out. That’s it.
This movie will kick your ass into next year. It’s easily one of the craziest action/martial-arts movies I’ve seen in a long time. The fighting is gritty and realistic. Don’t expect wires and CGI here—this movie is a throwback to the old days when you actually had to run up a wall yourself.
There were several scenes in which the audience collectively yelled in surprise (and, let’s admit it, delight) when a nasty hit or kill was made. And at the end of one particularly epic fight scene, we applauded. I mean really, how could you not? It was intense and amazing, and at times quite vicious, but not gory.
It may be a bit early to proclaim this, but I’m going to join in with the voices of critics and say that this is the best action film of the year. When I saw it, it was only playing in downtown Toronto as a limited release, but it has since gone to a wide release—it’s playing in Mississauga. So now you have no excuse. Seriously, check out The Raid: Redemption. If you’re a fan of martial arts films, you won’t be disappointed.
*But to Scotia’s credit, they still have the Enterprise and a Klingon Bird of Prey hanging from the ceiling, a holdover from when it was called the Paramount Theatre.