Having just come home from seeing this incredible movie, I’m not sure where to begin!
Well, alright I may as well start at the beginning. The Raid is an Indonesian martial arts movies filmed by some Welsh bloke you’ve never heard of, using a martial art you’ve never heard of and yet somehow has taken the world by storm. Why? Because it’s one of the greatest martial arts filmed ever made!
The Welshman in question is Gareth Evans whose quest it seems is to bring the Indonesian martial art of Pencak Silat to the worlds masses. With the help of his Indonesian wife, Gareth it seems, has made quite a name for himself over there with a documentary and a previous film invoking the brutal fighting style.
The plot like many films of this genre, is not up to much, however, this is a far better attempt than many. All you need to know is that there is this tower block that is filled with druggies (bar one it seems), with the kingpin at the top and a police swat team at the bottom with orders to take them out. The only character development is getting to know how the main guys like to dispose of their enemies.
While other films say the Ong Bak trilogy just lurch form one scene to the other to get Tony Jaa fighting again, this does seems to flow at a much better pace. After a one fight scene the characters get a break, and so does the audience (and trust me, you’ll need it), but your never taken out of the film or the pressure of the raid (no pun intended).
Right so lets get onto why your going to love this film, the fights. The art of Pencak Silat is magnificent to watch, it’s so fluid, poetic and yes, a bit violent. To me at least, it seems like a cross between Muay Thai, Aikido and the ability to use numerous weapons. Having rehearsed all the fight scenes before filming, the team were able to come up with some amazing battles cheaply but with time to refine them to an incredible detail.
As the victims get laid to waste with some incredibly vicious finishing moves, you are just left in awe at the speed and choreography of each and every one. There are a couple of stand out fights, one is a machete fight, and one later with a two-on-one fight that quite simply left me flabbergasted. It has to be seen to be believed. I can say it is two good guys against a bad guy, and it’s simply like nothing you have seen before. The direction is perfect and helped by the fact that the star of the show Iko Uwais was the choreographer.
Tony Jaa may have breathed a fresh new life into the martial arts films, but he’s going to have to raise his game after this. While the Ong Bak films are stunning and extremely brutal also, they seem a bit to unreal, here, everything seems more realistic. The handheld camera style may help with this, (though nothing like as shaky as the Bourne films), but also the sound is far better.
Ong Bak 2 especially, had pretty ropey sound effects when bones were broken. The only thing I can without doubt can give Tony Jaa, is the length of takes. Many of his fights have very few breaks, with some lasting a few minutes without cutting away. You don’t get that here, but again, it still feels more like a real fight rather than a set piece.
Already a sequel is in the pipeline with a third film being aimed at to round off a trilogy. This first film was filmed for a little over a $1m, and already the budget has risen sharply for the second film. I’m sure it’ll be fine, but I hope the extra budget doesn’t change the way this was filmed.
Sadly, Hollywood has signed a deal to make an American version and rights to do the same for the next title. Jesus Christ, God help us because there is no way in hell, it could close to this. Executives and insurance would never allow anything like this to be made stateside so really what’s the point?
This is a must see film and I’m fairly sure my favourite Asian action film. I need to revisit the Onk Bak series and certainly Hard Boiled to be sure, but I do believe we have a new target others must reach.
Reviewed by Invisiblekid