After missing it in Italy, later in New Zealand, I’ve finally been able to catch up with THE RAID in Sydney at the media screening in Events Cinema, big thanks to Madman Entertainment. I’d like to draw your attention to this one of the best martial arts movies I’ve seen in years. Since Ong Bak in 2003 and Ip Man in 2008 only Gareth Evans and Iko Uwais could make my heart begins to beat very fast and repeat “WOW! How did they do this?”.
Ass-kicking, high-kicking, flying kicks, flying-through-window kicks and leaping-through-hole-in-the-floor kicks, and all this inside apartment building in Jakarta infested with drug dealers. In spite of the Raid follows the classic low-budget rules of filmmaking, using mainly one location, few main characters and showcasing mostly interiors, this is the film’s strength.
OK, so what is this film about. A SWAT team goes into a Jakarta tenement to root out a notorious drug kingpin, but Tama’s surveillance, his army of machete-wielding thugs, and the mixed motives of the police lieutenant, put everyone’s lives at risk and moves into the wall-to-wall bloodshed on the screen that makes Matrix or Kill Bill look like a stupid kids movies.
The action sequences choreographed by Evans, Uwais and Ruhian includes a lot of hand-to-hand fights involving knives or other improvised cutting implements, and only highlighting Pencak Silat for its kinetic power and brute force.
In the beginning of the movie Iko Uwais showed so quick punching technique during his morning exercise, so even my girlfriend sitting near by was absolutely excited and impressed. I can tell you it was the best hand fighting technique which I have ever seen on the screen, even Donnie Yen probably stays somewhere in the corner and feels nervous about Ip Man‘s Wing Chun speed.
Yayan Ruhian, who plays the bad guy, can do things previously thought incapable with the human body. His duel with Indonesian Judo champion Joe Taslim, the commander of SWAT, is memorable because it showcases the relative strengths and weaknesses of their fighting systems. By the end of each fight sequence you feel just WOW and only after take another breath.
Yayan Ruhian was born in Tasikmalaya (West Java) on October 19. 1968. He found his passion in Pencak Silat and other martial arts, becoming a professional martial arts instructor. Ruhian is also known as an instructor of an inner breathing technique designed to condition of the body to withstand any impact. In 1988, he began teaching at Perguruan Silat Tenaga Dasar Indonesia (Inner Breathing Technique Silat School in Indonesia). During his term as an instructor he traveled regularly to teach in different cities and abroad. Ruhian was a member of a demonstration team who performed at Festival des Arts Martiaux de Paris Bercy in Paris, France, while also participating at Institude Judo Paris in France to showcase Silek Minang (West Sumatra – Minang-style Silat.) In 2008, Ruhian was hired as one of the choreographers for Merantau as a specialist in both Silat Harimau and Silat Minang. While casting the role of Eric, Gareth was unable to find an actor who would handle both the acting and fighting required for the role. Ruhian auditioned and won the co-starring role.
Do you remember a shaking cam in the each of The Bourne’s movies? It does not happen here. Gareth Evans actually lets the audience watch the amazing detail of each blow. As a result of the steady camerawork, the audience actually feels like they are a part of the action and the adrenaline goes soaring.
But there is only one bad think about The Raid, because of the endless energy of the fights and talented martial artists and stuntmen around, the scenes where people are just talking to each other slowed down everything.
The final showdown, two-on-one fight in a locked room will leave you gasping for sure! Another thing is, both Gareth Evans and Iko Uwais are extremely effective duo for action movies, like Donnie Yen and Wilson Yip, and I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.
… and do not ask yourself “How can that man have his head be slammed against the wall that many times and keep standing up?”