I don’t remember a lot about the first time I saw Ong Bak. I remember it was in our apartment on Frederick St. in Kitchener, and I remember my wife and I watching it together. What I remember better than anything else is my reaction to the movie. I remember the pure enjoyment at a movie that understood I don’t need a great story or characterization if you are going to throw amazing action my way. I also remember my shock (in a good way) at the moves Tony Jaa presented up there on the screen.
Ong Bak has very much become a touchstone for me. It is the modern, martial arts action movie that others are measured against.
Unfortunately, the next few Tony Jaa movies didn’t hit that high. The Protector (Tom Yum Goong) got damn close, and if it weren’t being measured against Ong Bak, it’d be the metric, but Ong Bak 2 and 3 disappointed. Tremendously so.
Now come the Raid: Redemption.
I’m going to say I didn’t have as strong a reaction to the Raid as I had to Ong Bak, but that’s about the only thing negative I am going to say. This movie is martial arts and straight action beauty. Like the Protector, it suffers by coming after Ong Bak. But if you loved Ong Bak, or even found it an enjoyable diversion, you can expect the same from the Raid.
Like Ong Bak (and unlike that movie’s sequels), the Raid has the bare minimum of a story required to get us from action scene to action scene. It’s filled with clichés and I was never surprised by how it got from A to B, nor what came at C. And like Ong Bak, the acting is serviceable, in some places even good.
But who gives a crap? The Raid is filled with wonderful action, well-filmed and coherent. We can see exactly what is happening here. Fuck shakey cam. The choreography is breath-taking, and the moves are so visceral and violent as to make one cringe in sympathy, or tense up expecting the blow to land.
If you like action or martial arts movies, I cannot recommend the Raid highly enough. If you are a fan of Ong Bak, you can expect to recapture some of the real pleasure of straight-up ass-kicking on the screen that Hollywood seems unable to deliver these days.
You can read more about the Raid: Redemption here.
You can see the movie’s IMDB page here.
You can visit the official page here.