The Raid: Redemption starts with a tension-filled prologue as an elite squad of police officers must infiltrate a rundown tenement to arrest or kill a maniacal crime lord. The team must go floor by floor and room by room to ensure no one in the building–all of whom might be accomplices–will interfere. It’s a unique setup, and just as writer/director Gareth Evans entices us with it, all hell breaks loose. The film quickly becomes a standard-issue martial arts movie, complete with mindless thugs, a sense of level-progression, and fights that rely on the only-in-the-movies tendency for people to approach the hero one at a time. Even if it’s familiar, the action is excessive, brutal, and bloody. Whatever works, right? My review is here. Available on DVD and Blu-ray.
Based on the first book in the young adult trilogy by Suzanne Collins, The Hunger Games has plenty of pageantry but little tragedy. It’s an oppressive scenario: In an undisclosed future, two teenagers from each of the poor districts are recruited to fight to the death until only one remains as retribution for a revolution that occurred at some point in the past. Our heroine Katniss (Jennifer Lawrence) selflessly takes the spot of her younger sister. Much is made of the pomp and circumstance of the games, and for as much outrage as there should be at this system, the movie seems too willing to buy into it for the sensationalism. My review is here. Available on DVD and Blu-ray on Saturday, August 18 .