Does unrelenting, creative, extreme, Kung fu action make a great film???
The short answer is when its done this good… 100% yes.
When was the last time you actually held your breath during an action movie, or gasped, or clung to your armrest in horror? When was the last time you really winced at every gunshot wound or punch to the face that’s unfolded on the Screen? I have never been in a cinema were so many people grunted, yelped and huffed and puffed with excitement and shock. Short, sharp and incredibly brutal, The Raid may be the best action movie to grace the big screen in years – in fact, director Gareth Evans’ movie grabs hold of your balls and never ever lets go
We might as well get the plot out of the way as to be honest it only services the insane action. A group of elite cops launch a dawn raid on a multi-storey building that serves as the lair for an evil drug lord, but what is intended to be a swift, stealthy mission soon goes wildly out of control. Noisy gunfights give way to a hand-to-hand war in a combined space, as the cops are assaulted by the drug lord’s henchmen and the building’s numerous residents, all of whom are armed to the teeth.
As far as the story goes, that’s it. There are a few twists along the way, but The Raid is an action film through-and-through – and there’s certainly nothing wrong with that. If you can imagine a film that mixes the pace and thrills of John Woo’s early back catalogue, the grace of Tony Jaa, the Brutality of Old Boy, and the sometimes nail-biting tension of John Carpenter, you’ll have a vague idea of what to expect.
Iko Uwais is the break out star of the movie and his unique brand of martial art (I think it is the Indonesian art of Silat but with some hybridisation) is breathtaking. The speed is out of this world, I’m unsure I have seen moves that fast, and some of the finishing movies left the audience feeling every bone crunch. Credit has to be paid to Evans artistry here as he positions his camera in the thick of the action. The uncomfortable closeness of the directer enhances the devastating action to a level I haven’t enjoyed in years.
The films music deserves a special mention as Mike Shinoda has crafted a booming score which at times raises the tension to nail biting levels. Its this combined with Evans patient set up of fight scenes which ramps up the anticipation and elevates the movie above and beyond the usual martial arts fair.
If I had any criticisms it would be that the film hangs around a touch too long and begins to feel samey in the final act. The creativity begins to slowly wane and in one particular scene I kept muttering ‘why wont this man die’ despite having a sharp implement stuck in his neck and six shades of shit knocked out of him. These are minor criticisms especially when the action is so frantic.
From what im hearing in the grapevine Hollywood’s already planning a remake, which will probably be starrier, cost more, and prove to be about ten times less entertaining. The Raid two is also in pre development with the intention to make this a Trilogy and I for one will be in the queue for round 2.
The Raid is a frenetic, creative, and pulsating ride, which will leave you with a smile on your face and your blood lust satisfied. Another example of how asian cinema is leading the way in the bringing quality cinema to our screens. There are a million ways you could waste your money this weekend The Raid will not be one of them
**** 4/5 stars