A future goal of mine that I will try to intermittently work on over the year is being able to write reviews that are a bit shorter and more concise. The two reasons for this are that I would be able to get a slightly higher quantity of reviews up and it is a skill I have yet to attain that I feel I should. This is not because I have oh-so-much to say, because I rarely do; it is just a skill I have never been able to master. If I can write one short review a week I will be satisfied.
IMDB Summary: A SWAT team becomes trapped in a tenement run by a ruthless mobster and his army of killers and thugs.
The value of standout choreography (whether that be hand-to-hand combat or choreography of a car chase or giant set-piece) in an action film cannot be overstated. It is the make-it-or-break-it element of this genre. A critical synergy must be reached between how the scene is conceptualized, what is shot, and what is shown through the editing process. If any one of these is subpar in execution, which happens in most cases with editing, the scene collapses.
Then a film like The Raid comes along and pulls the rug out from under us, soaring above a primarily low precedent. When action choreography is this spectacular, it has the power to ruthlessly trample over any glitches the film may have had going against it. This is applicable to The Raid.
Let me make this clear; there was no point when I truly cared about anything plot-related going on here. Welsh director/writer/editor Gareth Evans tries to give us reasons to care but they don’t gel. Star and martial arts expert Iko Uwais has an undeniably empathetic quality to him which he maintains even when obliterating everyone around him. But that only goes so far. The film stays on one wavelength throughout its entirety and the story is so simple it is barely worth mentioning.
But the action scenes featuring hand-to-hand combat are, in a word, awesome. Evans features the Indonesian martial art called Pencak Silat, with stars Uwais and Yayan Ruhian (to say Ruhian is a force of nature is an understatement) largely responsible for choreography. All of this gives The Raid a leg up. Audiences get to see a type of fighting unfamiliar to them which is immediately refreshing. Having experts like Uwais and Ruhian acting allows for the circumvention of stunt doubles. Consequently, Evans’ main editorial priority is not splicing together stunt doubles and actor footage, but figuring out how to best showcase Pencak Silat and the stellar choreography on display. The edits Evans makes are frequent but logistical and energizing; miraculously not an ounce of visual translation is lost in post-production.
This is the reason to see The Raid. It drowned me in brutal and extremely grisly violence and managed to place a big appreciative beaming smile on my face. It may be all the film has to offer, but the rarity of these exhaustive and thrilling action scenes is more than enough. It deservedly has a lifetime of cult followings and midnight showings in its future.