When the brilliantly concocted trailer first starting bubbling up on the interwebs for Indonesian action masterpiece The Raid, people kind of lost their shit, and with good reason. It was a fists and guns action movie that didn’t have giant cgi robots or aliens destroying a major metropolitan area or one-dimensional terrorists of the Russian and/or Arab variety doing bad shit to ‘MERICA. No jingoism, no military propaganda, no toylines turned into movies starring terrible “singers” and actors. What they were seeing was an apartment complex which was filled to the brim with tenants who are all under the thumb of a ruthless mob boss…and all seemingly willing to fight anyone who comes in looking to exact some lawful justice against their landlord/dealer. The simple setup was easy to understand, and helped to bridge the barrier that most people struggle with when it comes to foreign films. Couple that with some really great music provided by a dude from Linkin Park (WHO THE FUCK SAW THAT COMING, RIGHT?), a frenzied pace to the editing and mixing, and you had a recipe for success in building some serious hype off of trailer with ZERO marketable stars.
Usually, I like to dissect a film into easily digestible chunks like acting, directing, plot, technical quality, etc. With The Raid however, that is just not necessary. Why, you may ask? Because this movie is a package deal, and a phenomenal one at that. Since everyone in the world can now afford to own an HD camera, there is no reason for this film to look anything but polished to just about Hollywood levels, and it is. The gritty, grimy look is a great background for the surprisingly emotionally resonant struggle between what amounts to little more than Cops and Robbers with some family ties thrown in. There is a nice wrinkle in the fabric of the plot that astute movie goers might be able to point out before it’s revealed, but it’s nothing groundbreaking and serves as an interesting setup in they ever wanted to go ahead with a sequel that broadens the scope of the initial conflict. The acting is also highly serviceable, and benefits greatly from the “You don’t know who any of these actors are so anyone can die at any moment and that makes every fight scene INCREDIBLY intense because you’re rooting for your favorite dudes” effect.
Even if the production values, thespians, and premise weren’t up to snuff though, we would still be left with, as the incredibly western and homogenized dvd art proclaims, the absolute best action movie that has come along in many, many years. This makes Ong Bak look like Transformers. After watching this film, I was exhausted. The sheer amount of fights and fighting within each fight is enough to makes even the most jaded of martial arts fan pause. This is not speak of the incredible variety of fights like knife fights, firefights, and machete fights. Every set piece is so slick and so seamless and just bleeds into the next go around which is just as grueling as the last. I could point out some of the finer moments of the combat on screen, but to do so would surely spoil the fun any potential viewer losing their minds while watching The Raid. Suffice to say, this is the movie where you hoot and holler and may even throw some popcorn because “Dammit, this is so friggin’ cool!”
So, yeah. See this movie. Like now.