21 May 2012
THE RAID- Review
Essentially a showcase for the explosive big screen potential of silat, a martial art which appears to be based around punch-kicking and kick-punching absolutely everything that crosses into your eyeline, The Raid's script is minimal in the overall proceedings. There is a story, which involves an Indonesian SWAT team raiding a tower block full of violent, criminal martial artists, but Welsh writer/director Gareth Evans has chosen to largely tell this story through action sequences, and otherwise in Indonesian, rather than the English language. See how pointless the remake will be?
Aside from anything else, the film has received a saturation release in the UK, and a plethora of rave reviews, so it's not like Western audiences aren't going to get the chance to see it. And see it, you should, if you're any kind of action fan. It's interesting that two recent action films have taken the unusual premise of a domesticated safe haven for criminals, between this and the mixed Mel Gibson comeback project, How I Spent My Summer Vacation. The Raid doesn't take too much trouble to set up this premise before the fighting starts, instead preferring to paint the whole picture over the course of the film, using lots of baddies' faces as paintbrushes, and the walls of the apartment block itself as its canvas.
It also allows for a bit of fun with two of big bad Tama's main henchmen. They're referred to as Andi and Mad Dog, but we're not told which is which at that point. When they both enter the fray with the SWAT team down below, it's still a while before we're given any clue as to which is the brains of Tama's operation, and which is the violent, raving lunatic. It turns out to be a lot of fun finding out, once Mad Dog is let off the leash and turns out to be even more adept in the ways of silat than any of the other characters we've seen thus far.
As hard as it can sometimes be, to tell how performances are working when they're being delivered in another language, I liked all of the actors and their performances here. Some of them represent basic archetypes, in keeping with the film's relatively simple setting, but there's none of that tendency to cast good martial artists who can't act very well. They're just as believable delivering a heartfelt bit of dialogue (not that there are many tender moments to be had) as a roundhouse kick, a virtue which, again, offsets the more unbelievable, ambitious and audacious moments of violence throughout.
The Raid is now showing in cinemas nationwide.
If you've seen The Raid, why not share your comments below? Toughest job for the director of the American remake- casting a replacement Mad Dog. That guy was fucking excellent.
I'm Mark the mad prophet, and until next time, don't watch anything I wouldn't watch.