For my "free" category, I decided to watch an action movie I've heard a lot about. I downloaded THE RAID: REDEMPTION (I'm really burning through some iTunes giftcards) and prepared myself for a spot of the ol' ultraviolence. THE RAID is an immaculately-directed, gritty fight flick. The fight choreography is on another level and sets a high-water mark for action films to come. The camera respects the phenomenal stuntwork of the performers, relying on their (not inconsiderable) ability to sell the fight scenes instead of frenetic editing. It's incredibly violent, so if you're looking for anything besides an action film that's extra-heavy on the action, THE RAID: REDEMPTION probably isn't for you. I saw DREDD (2012) before THE RAID and really liked it, and I imagine the filmmakers behind DREDD drew a fair bit of inspiration from the Indonesian gangster film. Both movies take place entirely within an apartment complex overrun with criminals, and the police protagonists must fight their way to the top to confront the gangster overlord running the show.
I recently had an interesting conversation about action movies and musicals. By my own admission, I am not a fan of musicals. On the other hand, I love a good action movie. This doesn't seem inconsistent by any stretch, but the two genres might be more closely linked than they may appear. In each kind of movie, the plot isn't really what compels an audience. The story serves as an excuse for musical numbers or fight scenes; propping up various kinds of setpieces as the case may be. The fun is had along the way in the film's execution. Maybe this year I'll watch more musicals. Or more action movies.