The AV Club in their interview with Evans brings up the fact that there are shades of everything from Die Hard to Assault On Precinct 13 to 80's Hong Kong movies in this movie. (No one has mentioned this, but how about shades of New Jack City, Nino Brown owned and operated of one apartment building to, you know. At least in that one small detail it reminded Tina and I of). Oh, also it stars Iko Uwais who is a rookie cop but complete bad ass who has to fight his way through the building and its inhabitants to freedom. Uwais practices an Indonesian martial art called silat, which really and truly involves machetes and, oh boy, are there machetes in this thing.
Anyway, once inside it hardly matters that you can guess who is allied with who and who is going to betray who. As they get inside, there is some backstory, betrayal, and corruption. But you’re not watching The Raid: Redemption to dig into characters’ relationships or decipher complex histories. You’re here to see shooting and kicking, neck snapping and back breaking, flips and falls, as well as a series of amazingly choreographed battles. These are rendered in awesome long takes. Two things jumped out at me here: one in these long takes, where battles are taken to a balletic level of choreography, there are spots before the BIG spots that would have been the big spots in American action films that are glossed over because the action is moving so quickly, which I found interesting. Also in my review for The Hunger Games I mentioned that Paul Greengrass should teach Hollywood action directors who direct with that shaky camera for action sequences, I take that back because Gareth Evans should teach that. The camerawork is speedy here, but still legible, where you understand completely what's going on. It really is pretty amazing. And really fun to see with an audience just gasping away at what is going on at the screen.
It's 100 minutes of this:
If you feel like you'd be into then you will, basically. If not then steer clear.