A good martial arts film nowadays is really hard to come by. In order to be a good film in this genre, there needs to be a balance that can be deemed almost mythical: good choreography, a decent story and impressive stunts. After outings like Thai films Chocolate (2008) and Ong Bak (2003) that focus on kickboxing, and the recent news that Hong Kong Legend Jackie Chan was retiring from the action roles that made him famous, there was slight skepticism on whether the world of chop-socky martial arts can bounce back.
It took a guy from Wales to rise to the challenge.
The Raid: Redemption is the third film directed by Gareth Evans, which follows a team of cops (including rookie Rawa, played by Iko Uwais) trying to take down a crime lord, who lives in a high-rise building with mainly henchmen as residents.
This film has been on the radar of film fans everywhere for months. Like The Avengers Assemble and Cabin in the Woods before it, The Raid is one highly anticipated flick. Is it the heady combination it promotes of cops, guns and martial arts that calls to our inner fanboy (or fangirl)? Who knows.
Even though the premise of this film is quite clear (black-and-white-wise), watching the story itself enfold is enough to make your eyes pop. There are parts that are imaginative, such as the inter-floor ambush, and it makes The Raid more interesting than being a Die Hard/Police Story hybrid.
Writer and director Evans has made the most of the confined settings, with its grimy backgrounds and Wes Anderson-like centerred shots, he capitalises on the lack of space to highlight the impressive skills of Uwais. Following their first collaboration Merantau (2009), it took almost two years for The Raid to be made following budget problems. During the four months of pre-production, Uwais and co-star Yayan Ruhian designed the fight sequences and the results are, in a word, astounding. The action choreography is beyond incredible; blistering and relentless. And no CGI – always a plus. The climatic fight scene needs to come with a warning: the adrenaline just doesn’t end and eventually lingers into dumbfoundedness. Some parts are ‘ooh’ inducing, but it’s almost a comfort to watch scenes like these that are not linked to horror.
You can’t get this level of thrills and excitement if it was based in Los Angeles.
For it to pass off as a credible martial arts film, The Raid needed to be made as a foreign language film and on a personal note, I am very grateful and thankful.
Thrilling, fast-paced and never a dull moment. Prepared to be very entertained…with a full shot of adrenaline for good measure.