FILM REVIEWS: The Three Stooges, The Raid: Redemption
The Three Stooges
I went into The Three Stooges with low expectations. Let's just say, if I were forced to choose between Larry, Moe and Curly, I'd go with Groucho. You might be asking yourself "Why in 2012 do we need a Three Stooges remake?" However, one thing is undeniable: this movie comes from a place of love.
Yes, it's stupid, shocking, idiotic, moronic and mildly offensive. It's also an affectionate (albeit misguided) ode to the original knuckleheads. The plot is simple: orphan man-boys attempt to save orphanage, while becoming embroiled in hit-man-for-hire scheme. But what counts is the calamity. The Three Stooges is a symphony of slapstick. The foley artists must have worked overtime to get every BOINK, WACK and KNUCK, KNUCK, KNUCK to sound just right.
We've seen hints of Will Sasso's Curly before on MAD TV. Chris Diamantopoulos makes a mean Moe -- just watch him go to town on the Jersey Shore crowd. Best of all is the frizzy-haired Larry, tackled by Will and Grace alum Sean Hayes, who nails the nasal tones and hound-dog expression. Joining in the hamfest are Sofia Vergara, (a wasted) Jane Lynch and Larry David, as the nun Sister Mary-Mengele.
If you're looking to point fingers for this retread, you'll have to start with the Farrelly brothers, who directed it. These stalwarts of gross-out comedy have pushed the envelope of slapstick into genuinely disturbing territory. Although the ideal audience for their brand of humour is aged 9 to 12, I think we could all do without some of these images, like the cop who gets a pair of searing irons put to his chest. Still, the Farrellys have never been known for restraint and, for the most part, their recipe for excess suits the comedic chaos.
RATING: 3 out of 5
Joe Taslim (seen at left as Jaka) and R. Iman Aji (Eko) are shown in a scene from The Raid: Redemption (Akhirwan Nurhaidir/Sony Pictures Classics/Associated Press)
The Raid: Redemption
On a week when action fans have to subsist on thin gruel like Lockout (think Die Hard in space with Guy Pearce as a Bruce Willis/Kurt Russell-type character), I'd like to draw your attention to one of the best action films I've seen in months, if not years.
It's called The Raid: Redemption, it's from Indonesia and it will kick your ass. In fact, the movie is 90 per cent kicking: ass-kicking, high-kicking, flying kicks, flying-through-window kicks and leaping-through-hole-in-the-floor kicks. Sprinkle liberally with stabbing -- and the occasional gun fight -- and you pretty much have the film.
The plot is about as important as in the Stooges above. There is an apartment building in Jakarta infested with drug dealers. A SWAT team armours up to finally clean it out.
The righteous and unstoppable Sgt. Rama (martial arts champion Iko Uwais) leads the charge against the crime lord at the top, protected by floors of machete-wielding underlings. Though the story is filled with familiar elements (hidden connections between the two sides, for instance), the movie has the unstoppable momentum of a game of Donkey Kong. Fight after fight, Rama and his team must go higher and higher until they face the final confrontation. The fighting itself is frenetic, fast-paced and some of the most painful stuff I've seen since a Jackie Chan blooper reel.
Surprisingly the mayhem is shot by Welsh director Gareth Evans. His wife is from Indonesia and he originally travelled to the country to film a documentary about the country's unique fighting style, Silat. Soon, he began developing movies to share Silat with the rest of the world.
The Raid follows the classic low-budget rules of filmmaking, using mainly one location, few main characters and showcasing mostly interiors. Still, those constraints are the film's strength. The sheer physical nature of Rama's predicament is apparent from the moment the eviction goes horribly wrong. Evans tops his own stylish efforts with the final showdown, a claustrophobic two-on-one in a locked room that will leave you gasping.
RATING: 4 out of 5.
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