Whenever a movie is hyped too much I always feel compelled to see if it is worth the hype or if it is far too overrated. A martial arts movie being praised this much makes my Spidey sense go ballistic. It felt like a deja vu I had with this other martial arts movie that made an impact that was good. I am referring to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. For some reason this movie impressed the hell out of people. And I am the first one to admit that I enjoyed it immensely and that it was a good movie overall. Only to me it wasn't nearly as exceptional and extraordinary made out to be. Because as a longtime Hong Kong and Chinese movies fan I had seen much better in the Wuxia genre.
Now I must admit that there have been very few contemporary action movies that can be called masterpieces especially compared to older ones made in the eighties and the nineties. So I do understand the craving for these old school type action movies that are hard hitting and enjoyable. In that aspect Hong Kong has let me down considerably. When it came to action Hong Kong was the best. "Was" being the magic word. (Although secretly I am hoping for Hong Kong to come back to their senses at one point.) Thailand and South Korea filled up the void very nicely for quit a while. But somehow those countries also have been slipping lately. Out of nowhere comes Indonesia with Merentau Warrior that wasn't that impressive but clearly enough to put it on the map. The Raid Redemption is the second movie from Gareth Evans featuring the same star Iko Uwais. And yes, The Raid Redemption is superior to Merentau Warrior and an excellent action movie. Where as Merentau was disappointing.
Is it worth the hype though? No, not really. I enjoyed the action immensely but I wasn't impressed. I read raving reviews where they go in detail describing the action scenes like it was the first time in their lives they seen it on the screen. Which could be the explanation why The Raid is being praised so much. I had the same sentiment the first time I laid my eyes on this kungfu movie where this man was doing all these incredible things when I was 5 years old. The impact was so big and profound and ultimately start my love for Hong Kong movies. Still the comparison is not completely valid since there are contemporary martial arts and action movies that are just as good or even better than The Raid only they slipped by the radar and did not get an ounce of attention they do deserve. Let alone that it can be compared to those older Hong Kong movies.
The Raid Redemption like I said is an excellent but flawed action movie. What it lacks in buildup tension wise or having strong characters it makes up with the gritty and violent action. But don't fall for the hype. Enjoy for what it is not what it is made out to be!
There is a lot to be said in how much the premise of The Raid is copy of Die Hard. But seeing this is very much about an unwanted hero to be put in a situation he has to fight multiple enemies on his own it is hard to deny that the director is not inspired by Die Hard. Hence I will mark this up as a Die Hard Clone. One of the really good ones.