Fight Film Friday: The Raid

Posted: April 6, 2012 in fight film friday
Tags: ,

Serbuan Maut
“The Raid: Redemption”
Indonesia, 2011
Genre: Action, Gangster
101 minutes
http://www.imdb.com/title/tt1899353/

A team of special police officers must fight their way through an apartment building controlled by one of the most powerful drug lords in Indonesia.

The latest project by Indonesian-based Welsh director Gareth Evans, The Raid is the sum result of over forty years of martial arts cinema. Starring the exceptionally talented Silat master Iko Uwais, he and Evans build on their success and experiences with the film Merantau to craft a gorgeous and stunning tribute to the world of fight films. Although written by Evans, the dialogue is sparse, giving only just enough background to invest the audience into the story and leaving the rest up to conjecture and implication. It reminds me a great deal of short action films made by the semi-pro crews on Youtube, only expanded out to a full feature length project instead of confining itself to a paltry fifteen minutes. However, simply because it’s light on words doesn’t mean you should assume it’s a mindless gore-fest. The cast delivers where they can, and the non-verbal chemistry between actors works wonderfully. Evans manages to make sure everyone does a great deal with very little, and it comes off as much more than an intentionally cheesy or over-the-top film with no artistic merit. If you go in and don’t see anything beyond the blood and guts, I can assure you that it won’t be because there’s nothing else there.

At the risk of seeming hyperbolic, The Raid quite possibly has the greatest martial arts action sequences I have ever seen. It is the product of its history, and effectively uses techniques and styles from everything that has come before it. Yayan Ruhian and Uwais’s choreography is all at once brilliant, brutal, and beautiful. Using the spinning kicks and sweeps from the classic Hong Kong era, to the frantic winner-take-all frenzy of modern American films, to the crushing impact of Muay Thai, with a liberal dosing of local Indonesian Silat flavor, cinematographer Matt Flannery manages to capture it all with breathtaking grit and clarity. The sound design picks up where the visuals leave off, leaving every punch, kick, and break echo with fearsome authenticity. The shootouts are equally as intense, a storm of bullets and muzzle flares that boggles the mind with fear and violence. And while the score seems a bit on the generic side of heart-thumping techno beats, it definitely sets a strong tone and pace for the whole movie.

This is the textbook definition of a non-stop action thriller. It drops you right into the tension from the very beginning, and it will keep you on the edge of your seat until the final bullet rings out, and maybe after that as well. This is an absolute must-see for anyone with the stomach for real gut-wrenching action, with no punches pulled. Ladies and gentlemen, the bar has officially been raised.

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