As you may have heard, I’m broke this summer, so my plan to go see the new Captain America and Now You See Me 2, well, that is on hold for now. But fear not, friends. I won’t leave you without some good movies to watch while you are on your way to London or Miami for your summer vacations or just stuck at home like me. The following two movies won’t require you to buy a $7 dollar soda.
What is particularly interesting to me about these two movies is that they are basically the same. One was released in 2011 in Indonesia and the other was released in 2012 in the U.S. They are both action movies about police officers that enter a large residential tower to apprehend a drug lord and stop the drug operation. Both police officers get locked in the building and are forced to fight their way to the top floor, where they confront the drug lord. No, seriously, I told you, these are basically the same movie. One is set in the present day and the action relies more on acrobatic martial arts skills, while the other is set in a dystopian future and there are lots of guns. I think you’ll find an interesting commentary on what different societies value in their action movies.
Dredd (2012) [R]
Let me just start by saying, worry not, this film does not have Sly Stallone and Rob Schneider in it. That’s Judge Dredd from 1995. No, this one has Karl Urban and a “fresh off the first season of Game Of Thrones” Lena Headey. And, again, put your fears to rest, this is not another overly long and loud superhero movie like the 72 interconnected Marvel features out there.
Instead, Dredd is a science-fiction call back to the hyper-violent action movies of the late 80’s and early 90’s. You know, the ones where Arnold Schwarzenegger would have to go solve a kidnapping by killing 150 henchmen until reaching the final boss who would have an extended fight scene with Arnold only to die a gruesome death. But saying that is a bit of an injustice to Dredd.
I would argue that Dredd was a victim of terrible marketing. First, the trailer is horrible. It has every cliché you can think of and it uses slow motion far too liberally. Yes, I know the drug in the movie is literally called Slo-Mo because it causes the user to observe time as if it is moving in slow motion. But you don’t have to show us every stylistic slow motion sequence you came up with in the trailer. Second, it fell victim to the 3D hype. And lastly, you can’t tell if they want you to take the plot of it seriously or if it’s just a straight up action film.
Let me help you out. There is a plot here, and it’s actually not bad. The character development is decent, and the acting isn’t all that bad. Some of the lines they ask Karl Urban to deliver are cringe-inducing, but this is an action movie. Who cares, right? It’s all about the explosions, the crazy gun that Judge Dredd has, throwing people out of windows . . . Dredd is a stylish action movie, why try to make it more than it needs to be?
And that’s probably why I rate it the way that I do. Dredd tries to be a few too many things, I’m afraid. It really only pulls off the action part well. But that action part . . . it’s pretty good. So don’t let fears of Rob Schneider prattling on about being a “nice criminal” put you off. If you can put aside some of the failed ambition and poor marketing, this Dredd is actually worth your time.
7 paws out of 10
The Raid: Redemption (2011) [R]
Now, let’s talk about almost the exact same movie. Interestingly, this movie was a compromise. The director, Gareth Evans, wanted to tell a much more complicated and far reaching story but he couldn’t get enough funding for it. To gather the funds he needed for the movie he wanted to make, Evans wrote a cheaper one with a stripped down plot. And this is how The Raid: Redemption was created.
“Wait, Collin, why are you reviewing this one instead of the one he wanted to make (which came out later as The Raid 2: Berandal)?” you ask. Honestly, I think I like this one better than it’s more expensive sequel. Besides, we’re comparing and contrasting The Raid: Redemption and Dredd. Don’t get me sidetracked!
So, we could talk about the plot here, but why, really? It’s almost exactly the same as Dredd. And while The Raid: Redemption did come out a year earlier, Dredd was written first and had just been sitting on a shelf. There was just something in the air, I guess.
The plot, however, is where the differences end. Where Dredd is a science fiction action movie about an anti-hero, The Raid: Redemption is a flashy, martial arts version of a call back to the action movies of the late 80’s and early 90’s. The plot isn’t tremendously important in The Raid. Instead, it is the breath-taking action sequences that take center stage.
To me, the fight sequences just seemed more real and raw than anything I have seen in a Hollywood movie in a long time. There were several moments when I said “Ow! That stunt guy has a valid workman’s comp complaint.” The Raid: Redemption has some of the best fight sequences I have seen in a movie since the old martial arts movies of the 70’s.
I mean, really, were you looking for some sort of statement about corruption in society or did you just want some good, mindless, violence to make your Wednesday evening go by quicker? I know which I was looking for, and I found it in spades and with wonderful flourish in The Raid: Redemption.
8 paws out of 10
If you know what you are getting into, it’s hard to go wrong with either or even both of these, which was actually a surprise to me. I thought for sure, going in to this, that one of them would be good and the other would be terrible. But they are both good. It’s more a question of flavor variation than choosing between two entrees. You are getting a burger and fries. Do you want cheddar and bacon or swiss and mushrooms on that burger? Either way, it’s going to be tasty.