Remember the first time you went to see Die Hard? While watching it, you knew you were watching something that just felt fresh and new. And yet, Die Hard is just your regular action movie. The regular hits of adrenalin just keep you glued to the screen, and before you know it you realise you are watching one of the best action movies ever made. If you’re planning on seeing The Raid, then you should prepare yourself for feeling that way again.
The Raid is not anything special in terms of its plot or even indeed its action set pieces. What makes it such an exhilarating experience is the way it’s executed. The raid in question takes place in a high-rise building occupied by a mob boss (Ray Sahetapy) and his group of very well armed henchman. Before you know it the SWAT team is bursting in, among the ranks of which is rookie cop Rama (Iko Uwais). The SWAT team now must climb every floor to clear the place out, amidst a melee of bullets, machetes, martial arts, and fridges.
While it is quite easy to turn your nose up at the prospect of a film filled to the brim with violence because of the assumption there will be no plot to speak of, you should think again. There is, believe it or not, a coherent plot and even a few twists along the way, just to test how much this a human heart can take. Think of it as a slightly more intelligent Taken. Or perhaps that should be slightly less dumb. Either way it would probably be best to leave your brain at the door.
The action is, for want of a better word, barmy. There is nothing Hollywood about this; no shaky cameras or trying to make you feel like you are right in the middle of a brawl. That used to be rather entertaining, but now it’s starting to wear thin. Director Gareth Evans though injects his own style into the film, and that is wear its horrific beauty really lies. Some fight scenes are filmed astonishingly in one take, and shot from bewildering angles that Evans probably would have been told to avoid at film school. The editing is skilfully timed to maximise just how amazing the fighting skills of the cast really are. If you’re not wincing and gasping with every punch, kick, machete attack, or fridge attack then something is wrong.
So Hollywood should really take note. If you want to do action movies, this is the way to do it. With brutal and original flare, while making sure the plot and adrenalin are given out in equal, constant doses. It will be very surprising if this is not the best action movie of the year.
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