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rochefort [Celluloid 03.12.12] Indonesia action



Year: 2012
Directors: Gareth Evans
Writers: Gareth Evans
IMDB: link
Trailer: link
Review by: rochefort
Rating: 9 out of 10

This one really is an action fan's wet dream, but it's worth noting that when compared to top-ten American action films like "Die Hard" and "The Matrix", "The Raid" might not appeal as much to those audiences who get bored with a steady stream of six-minute scenes of kicking and punching.


Rama (Iko Uwais) starts his day with a fierce workout, kisses his pregnant wife goodbye, then dons assault gear and joins the SWAT team that has been picked to infiltrate a local crime lord's tenement building and bring the gangster into custody. Said crime lord just so happens to own the entire building, and almost every tenant is on his payroll in one way or another. So when things go wrong, Rama and his rapidly dwindling teammates must fight their way out of the building while fending off hundreds of attackers armed with machine guns, machetes, knives and bloody fists.

Director Gareth Evans' follow-up to the nicely-done kick-em-up "Merantau", "The Raid" (now newly titled "The Raid: Redemption") has been picking up quite a lot of critical acclaim and fanboy love as it makes its way through the festival gauntlet. The hyperbole is fitting, since this is a film that is as exhausting (in a good way) to watch as it must have been to make, and calls to mind my first viewings of John Woo's best films "A Better Tomorrow II", "The Killer" and of course "Hard Boiled".

The setup is super-simple: the SWAT team goes in, hoping to quietly make their way to the top floor and apprehend their target, but halfway up they get spotted and have to fight to survive, some going up, some going down. Rama, an untried and incorruptible rookie, turns out to be the most adept fighter on the team, and more than half of the many, many action sequences in the film put him front and center. And since this is an Indonesian film with (I'm assuming) less stringent insurance limitations on what stuntmen can and can't do, bodies are flung, bashed, bent and twisted in ways that American films simply can't pull off anymore without copious amounts of CG assistance. Which isn't to say there isn't CG blood here; there's quite a lot, in fact, but the stunts themselves are the real draw, and they consistently deliver, the overwhelming majority in-camera and for reals.

The icing on the cake here is that Evans doesn't rely solely on the superbly-choreographed action scenes to do all the heavy-lifting, so to speak. Cinematographer Matt Flannery shoots the picture soundly and smartly. The herky-jerky, "Bourne"-style camera work is reserved primarily for dialogue exchanges and the occasional shoot-out; but when if comes to the fisticuffs, the camera goes wide and stays that way, showcasing the choreography by Yayan Ruhian (who plays the crime lord's chief muscle, Mad Dog) and star Uwais. We're always fully aware of who's fighting whom, and Evans, who also edited, lets the action shots hold and breathe long enough for us to get a true sense of just how bruised and scraped these actors must have gotten throughout the film's making.

The acting is solid, the production design rich and chock full of dust, debris and decay, and the electronic score is particularly excellent. I think most movie fans are aware of just how much work goes into making a good action film, especially one with as many martial arts as this one, but the general impression we get with "The Raid" is that everyone involved is at the absolute top of their game, and the love for what they're doing really translates.

This one really is an action fan's wet dream, but it's worth noting that when compared to top-ten American action films like "Die Hard" and "The Matrix", "The Raid" might not appeal as much to those audiences who get bored with a steady stream of six-minute scenes of kicking and punching. The story, after all, is pretty much an excuse to pack in all the butt-kicking possible, and as such comes off like an Eastern, inverse "Assault on Precinct 13". Which suits me fine, but I can understand how it will play for some like an endurance test. For everybody else, though, this one is unmissable, and I wouldn't be at all surprised if "The Raid" turns out to be one of its generation's defining action movie events.



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Steve (8 years ago) Reply

Dude, it's Gareth Evans not Gareth Edwards (Monsters)

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agentorange (8 years ago) Reply

Bahaha! Whoops :)

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macgruder (8 years ago) Reply

this movie looks amazing

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IBustedANutOnKateUpton (8 years ago) Reply

People going in to see this movie must be aware that this is a Martial Arts movie set in Indonesia.. If people are looking for another Die Hard/Matrix or whatever then they have no fucking clue of how Movies like this work, lol...


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