Viewed – 12 October 2012 DVD
This has been hyped for a while as one of the best action movies ever made. An Indonesian throw-back to the famed Hong Kong kung-fu thrillers that made names out of the likes of Jackie Chan and Jet Li, this follows a group of cops as they plan and execute a raid on a tower block governed over by a ruthless drugs baron. Yet once inside it becomes obvious that the petty criminals are more organised and deadly than first thought, and so what was once a simple get in, get out mission becomes a fight for survival.
Almost from the start this is a frantic, pulse-pounding actioner, with tightly edited camera work, an adrenaline fueling score and a wealth of very violent but superbly choreographed fight sequences. At times I felt the pure no-holds-barred brutality was a bit unnecessary and going for an ultra-realisitic approach made this a very different beast to its Hong Kong brethren. Clearly though, there is some real talent here as everything is very convincing and there surely must have been some nasty injuries during the making. Main star Iko Uwais is a real find, and is showcased in many of the fights, leaving me quite literally breathless in my seat – damn that guy can kick some ass! One particular three-way showdown has to be seen to be believed.
Director Gareth Evans, yes not Indonesian has put together a determined and very exciting movie that although the story is basic, offers up enough twists and turns to keep this viewer glued. The best action movie ever made then? No – it doesn’t quite have the depth of say, John Woo at his best (The Killer etc) and lacks variety. Also the motivations of one guy towards the end are a tad confusing. Yet these are small gripes for what is otherwise an accomplished piece of friday-night entertainment … and a must see for true action-enthusiasts – like me.
Verdict: 4 /5