Thursday, 24 May 2012

Review: The Raid (Redemption) - Second-Pass

CAUTION: Yen's blog contains harsh language and even harsher notions of propriety. Reader discretion is advised.

The Raid poster

101 mins / Dir. Gareth Evans

Watching The Raid a second time, after reading reviews and hearing an interview with the director, it's a much more paced film than I'd thought. A second-pass doesn't lessen the impact of the on-screen violence at all, but it does allow you to concentrate on the performances of the central characters. I know how that sounds, but bear with me…

Shooty-Shooty-Bang-Bang, we love you…
I was pretty much overloaded last Friday, as was my brother-in-law tonight when he saw it for the first time, but there are levels of subtlety in The Raid that aren't immediately apparent when you're still trying to keep count of how many people have been killed. The face-off between Jaka and Mad Dog is somehow more poignant when you know how it's going to end. As lengthy as the fight is, you see that Mad Dog takes next-to-no actual hits. He's toying with Jaka like a cat with a half-dead bird. The Zen-like state he goes into at the end of the fight carries a lot more weight when you watch it back again. The same can also be said of Mad Dog's fight with Rama and Andi a little later. He's quite comfortably holding his own against the pair of them when you watch where the blows are landing. Which is another great thing about The Raid: for all the handheld camerawork and rapid cutting between shots, you never once lose track of what's happening in a fight. The film has been made by people who understand the art of Pencak Silat intimately.

Rama-Tama Ding Dong…
But the main thing that struck me (if you'll pardon the expression) when I watched the film a second time, is that this isn't real. Not that you'd know it from what you're seeing, but this is a film, with actors, stunt actors, effects artists and crew members. How proficient do you need to be in an art where you can perform at that level, with that degree of authenticity, and not hospitalise everyone else on-screen? Stunt-falling is one thing, but there are angles-of-limbs shown in The Raid that really shouldn't occur in a safe environment.
That said, I bet there were some absolutely corking bruises acquired in the making of the film.

The violence may not be your thing, but you have to appreciate the craft...


Incidentally, I'm saddened at the news of not only a sequel, but also an English-language remake. This from the director himself, on the podcast I linked to up there.
You can't equal it, and you certainly can't better it. Leave it alone!

• ^^^ That's dry, British humour, and most likely sarcasm or facetiousness.

• This is a personal blog. The views and opinions expressed here represent my own thoughts (at the time of writing) and not those of the people, institutions or organisations that I may or may not be related with unless stated explicitly.

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