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General Musings, Reviews

The Raid Review


‘The Raid’ also known as ‘The Raid: Redemption’ over in the states is the new martial arts film to hit out screens albeit on a very limited release. The difference being with this latest release in comparison with other martial arts films shown in cinemas around the world is that ‘The Raid’ is an Indonesian martial arts film as opposed to a Hong Kong, Japanese or Malaysian martial arts film which we be more familiar with. The film follows an elite SWAT team as they invade and seek to purge a high rise building full of criminals which also happens to be ran by a dangerous and highly respected crime lord and his cohorts. After being discovered infiltrating the building the SWAT team soon find themselves not in a battle to get to the top of the building but in a battle of survival and escape. So should you join in with ‘The Raid’ and fight your way to the top? Read on..

If you have seen few martial arts action films or have gotten a little bored with the repetitive nature of some of them then ‘The Raid’ is something you need to see as it will undoubtedly change your mind. ‘The Raid’ is quite simply one of those films that comes out of nowhere which redefines and reinvigorates a genre more than any big budget release could ever hope to achieve. There are a lot of major action films that have been released this year and some massive ones to coming soon but it is almost guaranteed that no release this year will nail the action as perfectly as ‘The Raid’ has.

Now before the action gets hyped too much for this film if you are not a fan of hand to hand combat in films and prefer the run and gun style of films like ‘The Expendables’ then this may not be your cup of tea but it is still worth an hour and a half of your time. From start to finish the film is unrelenting, it does not take long before our SWAT team is storming the gate of the 30 storey building quietly and methodically taking out people floor by floor in what is essentially navy seal or royal commando style combat. This building of pace and use of proper tactics assists in setting the stage for the insane action that soon follows as the SWAT team soon learn they are out of their depth. Once the action hits the 6th floor all hell breaks loose and we are subjected to the best displays of martial arts action since the brilliant choreography of the early ‘Once Upon a Time in China’ films. The only word that can sum it all up is carnage, plain unadulterated carnage that has you wincing, cringing, jaw dropping and wanting more. You may think you have seen it all when it comes to martial arts but ‘The Raid’ is on another level. 
Who needs big f****** guns when you can have big f****** machetes
What works well in the films favour also when it comes to the action is that it is not hand to hand from start to finish but a lot of the opening fighting that takes place involves all sorts of guns, machetes, explosions and tools to try to survive. We get exploding canisters, people getting rugby tackled out of windows, stabbed in the face repeatedly, its all here and it all works well. Giving us different types of action and moving between hands on combat to heavy weapons and so forth keeps the action fresh and interesting with very few occasions dragging out. What compliments the action perfectly in the film as well is the superb direction by Gareth Evans, where many martial arts films tend to have stationary shots of a key fight scene so that we can watch it unfold before us as if we were a spectator, Evans has us following the action from every conceivable angle available to watch from. With the camera consistently moving as well it keeps the pace feeling frantic and once again makes the action more intense than most other action films and what makes it better is that quick cuts are not used nearly as much as Hollywood films which quite frankly goes to show the incredible skill that Evans and the choreography team have to pull off what they have shot.
Foot + Face = Goodnight
As mentioned the direction and choreography of  the fights is stunning but that is not the peak of the success achieved by the production team. There is a great use of light, dark and shadows in the film giving us great and memorable shots that make the film look classy as well as gritty and real. So if all the action is so perfect then surely the story and acting might suffer because of it? Well no it does not, the acting is really good from the lead figures in the film, sometimes a little over the top but manages to stay balanced. As for the story it begins as a very basic premise with only the goal of infiltrating the tower and taking out the crime lord as the chief plot line, but as the action ebbs and flows with the periods of calm we are given  little more to the story each time as the film progresses. These scenes between the action, where most of the dialogue occurs, shows that there is a bit more to taking this tower than we originally thought. Though it is not a ton of more story, by feeding us it in small portions it keeps us interested and guessing and before we get time to think about it we are delivered another barrage of blistering action. 
Damn…Where is that parachute when you need it?
All in all if there is one action film you see this year that does not involve superheroes than ‘The Raid’ has to be number one on your list. The term action packed does not even begin to do this film justice as it over performs and beats into submission any of its fellow contemporary action films. Director Gareth Evans has put his name on the map in a big big way along with his choreography team and main stars and I sincerely hope to see more of them in the future, though some fight scenes do tend to last a little too long there is enough to admire and enjoy in each one. Sly Stone said recently that the action genre is fading away and giving way to the superhero genre, though that is true I firmly believe ‘The Raid’ could be a remedy for that decline. 

About Snooty Usher Dan

Favourite Film: One Flew Over the Cuckoo's Nest (1975) Worst Film: The Hills Have Eyes 2 (2007) Guilty Pleasure: Step Up 2: The Streets (The dancing is awesome ok.....)

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