Sorry for the late review, I just got back from vacation with a stomach bug so lets talk about something simple, The Raid.
This Indonesian martial arts action film is probably the first one to ever feel like it will break my nose just from looking at it, which is a great thing. The Raid is a bare bones, fast paced action movie that takes every Hollywood action film of the last 25 years, beats them into a white powder and sniffs it in one breath. The film doesn’t invent anything new but it is executed so perfectly with a near psychotic amount of confidence that it reinvents the very idea of an action film. Thesis: The Raid is badass.
The plot is not much, a rookie cop and his fellow squad mates get locked in an apartment building filled evil killers during a police raid and they have to fight their way out. This is nothing that has not been done before in films like Die Hard and Dredd. But like those films and many others, the plot is merely a concept to wrap around the martial arts sequences, which are jaw dropping. Aside from a couple, albeit fantastic, shootouts most of the action is from visceral, fast, bone crushing, and precise martial arts that has to be seen to comprehend their magnitude, and they definitely want you to see it.
The director Gareth Evans and fight choreographers/actors Iko Uwais and Yayan Ruhian can clearly read each other’s minds because the shots are perfectly composed with the action. The camera is never up close and edits are few, meaning every single hit can be seen clear as day. It was mainly shot with handheld cameras which allows for perfect flow from action to action; while handheld cameras notorious for being shaky, it does not matter because the filmmakers have a clear sense of space. In short, by actually showing the action clearly in The Raid, the viscera and thrills become real and alive.
The Raid is badass, end of thesis. The violent martial arts and gunplay are not for the squeamish but are undeniably impressive feats. The Raid, like Bruce Lee’s Enter The Dragon and Buster Keaton’s The General, is a film that best appreciated for the intense physical talented displayed onscreen. Yet the film also features an equally talented director that has a keen eye for composition in an exponentially chaotic environment. The Raid is a lean and powerful action film that will satiate a thrill junky better than any action films that Sylvester Stallone and his Expendables group have made in the past couple decades.