Indonesian cinema treats Hollywood like a jock bullying a nerd: shouting “The wimp uses computers!” and doing horribly painful things with the human body. Indonesia is the fourth most populous country in the world, and this movie proves it by beating up every single one of them on camera.
The Raid: Redemption makes Die Hard look wimpy, because in Nakatomi Plaza most of the rooms didn’t contain murderers. The Raid fixes the hell out of that. The movie is “impossibly kickass” and that’s not just a compliment, that’s 90% of the script. It’s one of the greatest action movies ever made despite lacking almost everything an action movie needs. But that just means it has nothing left to lose.
One-liners are how action movies change gears from ass-kicking back to plot and The Raid simply doesn’t do that often enough to bother. Characters only speak to explain why they are or aren’t about to kill each other or someone else. The cameraman had more lines during filming, usually asking “if there are already four machetes, five martial artists and ten corpses in this corridor, where do I fit?” The only way you’d convince the director to add more dialog is to make magic real, because that way talking could kill people.
NO PLOT PROGRESS
Most action movies end with the good guys arriving in the same place as the bad guys, and The Raid thinks most action movies are time-wasting pansies. The movie starts with an armored van delivering good guys to the evil base and then murders the van. Every time the heroes stop kicking ass a rampaging mob arrives to force them to a new location. This movie makes video games look like boring emotional dramas, and its only “cut scenes” feature machetes.
NO SPECIAL EFFECTS
Michael Bay is about one movie from releasing a YouTube “Best explosions” compilation as a full-feature movie. The Raid only used computers to process stuntman medical expenses. It chews through extras like machine gun bullets and every single one moves with more velocity and lethality. Raid characters only use guns to get rid of good guys who didn’t talk to the main character before $#!+ got real.
This film uses fewer special effects than a cave painting and exactly the same level of technology: human limbs and whatever fluids that can bash out of things. This is the first movie where a fight in a drug lab doesn’t end in flames and bad guys running away, because anyone running isn’t hitting people. Every scene looks like the director was holding a gun to shoot any extra who left the shot without genuinely attempting to kill a real actor.
There’s only one explosion in the whole movie, and it’s a MacGyver masterpiece where the good guy turns an apartment kitchen into the fiery death of his enemies. It’s single-handedly awesome enough to undo Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull to make fridges cool again.
NO LOVE INTEREST
Many action movies still include a love interest, despite “feeling love and keeping someone alive” being the exact opposite of action movies. The Raid gets the “good guy relationship” over before the intro credits, and just to make sure nobody gets the wrong idea it cuts back and forth between him stroking his pregnant wife and beating the $#!+ out of a kickbag. You can tell he’s a good guy because he remembered which was which.
This was a masterpiece of tough guy cinema, because action movies are the exact opposite of pre-natal class: they teach you that pregnant women mean you can do anything you like. If an action movie shows a terrorist training by punching nuclear warheads, you know he’s tough, but when it shows the good guy tenderly promising his pregnant wife he’ll be back safely, you know he’s going to make that first @$$#0!% eat those atomic bombs and then kick him into Terrorististan.
NO EVIL PLAN
There’s no desperate race against time to provide tension, because when an Indonesian director uses plot devices to provide tension he’s sent to remedial martial arts class. The bad guys only plans are “Be evil” and “Receive almighty beatings”, making them the only action movie villains to succeed. The evil boss’s first scene has him killing four guys with a gun, then a fifth with a hammer because he can’t be bothered to reload. The thugs are named by location and number, which is exactly ant hives label their soldiers, but this building uses up more bodies.
It’s also the first movie where the fight choreographer is also the evil henchman. That’s the only possible explanation for his behavior. He’s more concerned with wanting things to kick ass than the audience. He’s awesome. His reaction to winning a game of gun-vs-knife is to throw both away and give the police a chance at beating him to death.
The climactic battle takes place in a special room he keeps just to kick ass in. That is not a joke. And when the hero arrives to free the chained prisoner he’s beating, the henchman does it for him so that he can kick both their asses simultaneously. The next nine minutes are Indonesian fight choreography Valhalla, this incredible warrior’s reward for faithful service. They only win by shoving a tube right through his throat, and that doesn’t drop him: it just puts a time-limit on his incredible thousand-hit beating-their-asses combo.
I needed a cigarette after that fight scene, and I don’t smoke. I just felt the need to take some physical damage as tribute to the incredible gladiators who just redefined ass-kickings for my entertainment.
This movie does for the Indonesian martial art of Silat what the Sistine chapel did for painting: redecorated an entire building with it to create a magnificent work of art. And if you like that image I have failed, because it means you’re still reading me instead of having left to watch the movie.
Luke McKinney knows booze & video games. His recent attempts to find the hottest food in the world led him to eat Murder Spice, which gave him the ability to melt through porcelain. The next day. In the bathroom. Follow him on Tumblr.
Prior to The Raid, the closest Luke came to this level of carnage was his assault on Five Real-Life Jerks You Want to Kill in Every Video Game. –>