Archive for January, 2013

Movie Review: The Raid: Redemption

Posted in Movies with tags , , , , on January 8, 2013 by otakujade

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SUMMARY:

This is a 2011 Indonesia film directed by Gareth Evans and was originally released as “The Deadly raid” or simply “The Raid” in Indonesia,  however when the movie was released in the US the distributor couldn’t get the license to use that title so it was renamed “The Raid: Redemption”. The film stars Iko Uwais as Rama a rookie SWAT officer who was part of the 20-man Detachment 88 special police squad  led by Sgt. Jaka played by Joe Taslim.  Their mission was to arrest Tama Riyadi, a crime lord whose strong hold is located in an apartment building in the middle of the slums in Jakarta. The entire building was under Tama’s control and its inhabitants his army. He has two lieutenants, Andi played by Donny Alamsyah (who we will find out later is Rama’s brother) and Mad Dog, Tama’s ruthless henchman.

The team was able to enter the building undetected until they reached the 6th floor where a young lookout chanced upon them and managed to sound the alarm before he was shot to death. It was then that the situation got real sticky for the team. Tama sounded the alarm and shut down the building trapping the SWAT team inside. Two snipers from outside took out their means of transportation and started picking off members of the team who had the misfortune of exposing themselves.  Then, Tama took the game a little further by announcing on the PA system that he will grant free permanent residence to those who kill the intruders. And this is where the nightmare began for the SWAT team.

During the battle, Jaka learns from Wahyu that the mission isn’t sanctioned by the force, meaning nobody knows their location and no backup or reinforcements will arrive.  The team backed into an empty apartment where they narrowly escape thanks to Rama’s improvised explosion. By then only 5 of the team remain and they got separated trying to escape from the apartment after the explosion.

Jaka was confronted by Mad Dog and held at gun point. He was led into an empty room where Mad Dog challenged him to a hand to hand combat.  Mad Dog proved true to this name sake and after a brutal fight was able to kill Jaka.

Rama on the other hand left his wounded companion with one of the tenant he helped earlier and proceeded to look for his other team members. Andi took the chance to abduct his brother and help him escape, unfortunately he was seen my Tama through the CCTV. He was being brutally beaten by Mad Dog when Rama chanced upon them. Mad Dog confident in his fighting abilities allowed Rama to untie his brother and in tandem they faced off with Mad Dog in a battle to the death.  Mad Dog was defeated after a very long and vicious battle. They found Tama on the 15th floor but before they could make the arrest Lt. Wahyu losses it and shot one of the team members in the head. The others just had enough time to dodge the bullets and hide. Believing he could use Tama was leverage to get out of the building. As Lt. Wahyu was leading Tama out of the building, the crime lord boasted that his actions will be in vain because of the massive corruption in the police force and that the crime lord will be out of jail in no time at all. Wahyu loses control shot Tama in the head , he would have committed suicide but he ran out of bullets. It was then that Rama and Andi over powered him and subdued the crazy lieutenant.

Andi handed over to Rama the list of Tama’s contacts in the police but when Rama enjoined him to return home Andi refused saying that he was where he belonged. He had finally found something he was good at and he rocks at it. The two brother separated, each going his separate ways and each moving towards a totally different direction.

 

REVIEW:

Honestly it was one of the best martial movies I have ever seen…it’s not gory but there is enough cruelty in the way the killings were made to make me cringe at certain points of the movie. I remember really hating Mad Dog when I first saw him. He was an arrogant man, not very tall and even very intimidating and yet he had his walk that makes me want to sneer at him. But once the fighting started I realized why he was called such and I was amazed at his fighting skills.  He was around 5’5 to 5’6 at best, a bit on the skinny side and sporting longish hair (kindda remind of me of hubby actually, but I didn’t say anything in front of him of course… hehehe! though looks-wise he looks more like hubby’s friend from the office) but he was a very, very skilled and powerful fighter. The Actor who played Mad Dog was Yayan Ruhian, he was handsome or anything but damn, I would go out with him anytime. Talk about a guy who can protect you.

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The fight scenes were to die for in this film. It was vicious, it was engaging and it so epic. I also love the way that the martial style of each character was so easily distinguished in the film. It was like watching one martial art fighting style squaring off with another fighting style.  I have always been fascinated with the Indonesia martial art, Silat, and anybody who know a little about martial arts and would be honest about it will tell you that Silat is one of the best and most brutal fighting styles. This was also highly exhibited in the film. Rama was using Pencak Silat; Mad Dog utilized Muay Thai while Jaka was using a combination of Wushu and Judo. I repeat it was one of the most intense martial arts movies I have ever seen.

There were several brutal killing scenes in the movie but to my opinion it was necessary to deliver the story. It was simply a very, very well made film. This is one action movie every self-respecting action fan should see.

 

Rorouni Kenshin Live-Action Film: When the Icon/Legend becomes a Phenomenon

Posted in Anime, Movies with tags , , , on January 7, 2013 by otakujade

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I guess SM never expected this movie to have such a huge following, and I’m betting they were quite surprised with the turn out and the hype that this film made once it was announced that it will be shown in the country. You can almost feel their apprehension when SM decided to show the film via a limited play date; the longest of which extending only 5 days in selected SM Cinemas here in Metro Manila and concentrated mostly in the Quezon City area. However, after the first week the showing, the movie was extended for a few more days…which stretched in to another week and eventually…3 weeks! Whatever doubts SM may have had at the beginning, those were all erased as they raked in the cash and the movie became an unprecedented success.

PLOT:

The film was based on the season 1 and 2 of the anime series, with some inputs coming from both the manga and the OVAs.  It wasn’t an exact adaptation of the series however it was close enough to be thoroughly satisfying. Something that even the uninitiated would understand and the fangirl (like me) and fanboys would appreciate. Some hardcore fans would probably comment on the sequence of events or that the movie did not actually follow the plot of either the manga or the anime. However, this should be expected. It is simply impossible to religiously follow the plot of the anime or the manga through the movie considering the time frame.  This is nothing new and considering the number of books and comic book stories turned films, this should be expected. But I would venture to say that compared to those this movie adaptation was wayyyy, wayyy better. Watching the film you get the impression of how much the director and the people behind the film respected the storyline and consequently the fans. As I earlier commented, leave it to the Japanese to make a film adaptation of their animes and stories – they understand it better thus they will treat it with a lot of respect.

So, as for me, in terms of the plot…this active adaptation is a complete success.

CHARACTERIZATION:

Character development wasn’t given much time in the film, may be it was due to time constraints or because they focused more on the series of events in the film however, it was good enough that even those who know little or none at all about the series would get it that Kenshin Himura was supposedly a legendary battousai (assassin/man slayer) who have decided to live that life behind and turn a new leaf living a peaceful and low profile life. Besides, I do think that the director and writers of the film probably surmised that majority of those who will sought to watch this movie would at least have a little knowledge of the anime series.  Rorouni Kenshin was and still is an iconic manga and anime series in Japan and Asia and in some western countries where anime is being appreciated.

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With regards to the choice of the actors who played the characters, Takeru Sato was simply perfect. I mean, he was a complete surprise to me personally. In terms of looks they couldn’t have chosen a better Kenshin, who would have thought that the pretty boy from Kamen Rider Den-O would be so perfect as the most feared, ruthless battosai. I totally admire Sato on this, because not only was he able to really internalize the role of Kenshin but he really studied the role and the character such that fans get to see Kenshin’s mannerisms and movements in Sato – the way that Kenshin end nearly his every fighting move kneeling on the ground with his head bowed, the way Kenshin likes to stand up after a fight and seem to fix the sheathed sword on this waist, his agility, his funny “Oro” expressions and the way Kenshin deliver those funny, clueless comedic lines that render the humor in the series. It was just…I repeat…PERFECT!

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Munetaka Aoki was also spot-on as Sagara Sanosuke, except for the fact that  he is a bit short compared to the Sanosuke of the anime series. But looks-wise he was flawless, and his acting was wonderful as well.

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In terms of the actors in this film, I guess the only ones I have a slight comment would be the women. Emi Takei was a wonderful Kamiya Kaoru, her simplicity and almost plain looks was exactly how Kaoru was in both the anime and the manga. However, it wouldn’t hurt if she was a bit more tomboyish as Kaoru was actually quite the tomboy.

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Yuu Aoi as Takani Megumi did her best to give justice to her role…and in reality she was very good at it. My only negative comment about this is that Megumi from the original story is supposedly sultry, sexy, mysterious and all together gorgeous. Though Aoi is beautiful in her own right, she was just a tad too old for Megumi plus when placed beside Takei she looks much, much simplier. I mean, Megumi from the anime and manga would make Kaoru look like her servant, whereas in the movie Takei outstaged Aoi in beauty.

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Taketo Tanaka as Myojin Yahiko was so cute but he’s way to young for the role. In the original story Yahiko was already in his teens.

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Yusuke Eguchi was actually a huge improvement for Saito Hajime, I mean I have no complaints Eguchi was a real eye candy but, well,  I like Saito but he wasn’t really in THAT handsome. Again, I’ve got no complaints …just saying.

FINALLY….

All in all the film was a raging success. There were a couple of minor deviations from the original storyline and one or two major infractions but all in all it was a very, very good adaptation of the series. It was the sort of adaptation film that Hollywood directors, writers and producers should try to emulate. I loved the film…saw it twice actually and am looking forward to the DVD’s release so I can watch it every time I want to. Oh, we’re (Kenshin fangirls and fanboys everywhere) are already looking forward to the sequel. Can’t barely wait!