Friday, 11 May 2012

The Raid

The Raid arrives in cinemas next week, although if all the hype is to be believed it doesn't so much arrive in cinemas as kick the door down, riddle the box office staff with bullets, blow up the popcorn counter, throw the manager down the stairs, kill every single customer in the building and launch itself onto the screen with a cannon.

What I'm trying to say is that it's violent. Try doing a Google image search for a still from The Raid where people aren't kicking the living shit out of each other: it's impossible.

If you've been paying attention though, you'll have noticed that while new superlatives are having to be invented for people to describe the violence, the same people are quietly referring to the script as "economic", "stripped down" and "efficient": all very polite ways of saying "barely existent". It really may as well be called Men Fighting. Laughable comparisons to Die Hard are being made all over the place (presumably because it's an action film set in a building), but The Raid has none of the wit, charm or invention of Die Hard, just fifteen thousand times as many fights.

That's not to say the fights aren't good, because by and large they are. Insane martial arts demonstrations choreographed to within an inch of their life and masterfully shot and edited, each bust-up is an impressive dance of violence between the good guys and the bad guys, every single one of whom is conveniently a master of Pencak Silat, the fighting style about which Wikipedia helpfully tells us "There can be no silat without pencak; on the other hand pencak without silat is purposeless".

Likewise, there can be no plot without action, but on the other hand action without plot is purposeless. What little there is in the way of a story is put on hold every few minutes for another foundation-shaking rumble, after which we're rarely any further on than when it started. And if you think you've got a handle on how many bad guys are left after each scrap, think again, because there'll be an entire other room full of them that's just been written into the script so we can have yet another fight scene, thereby rendering each kill dramatically pointless.

The Raid is perfectly passable mindless entertainment, and does at least feature cinema's new best fridge-nuking scene, but if you're after something with as much brain as brawn, you may as well stay at home and spend the evening kicking yourself in the face.

Gets boring after a while dunnit?


  1. Completely fair review, though I'm saddened that you didn't mention the impressive number of Indonesian policemen and drug addicts who are highly skilled martial artists. The credits were mostly endless scrolling lists of people who appeared, yelled, and died over the course of 1-2 seconds.

    Oh, and there's only no dialogue if you don't count 'arrrr' and 'ugh'. There's more grunting in this movie than a Hungarian bear porn boxset.

  2. If more grunting in this movie than a Hungarian bear porn boxset' doesn't make it onto a poster I will be bitterly disappointed.

  3. RAID = Redundant Array of Independent Discs. As I understand from the review the meaning of this word to IT folk would seem to suit this movie too if you replaced discs with deaths.

    Having sparse dialogue makes multilingual marketing easy as was proved by The Good The Bad & The Ugly (1966) & Futtocks End (1970) as examples.

    Perhaps I'll wait to view till this film appears on my TiVo somewhere.

  4. Liam, I have never heard of Hungarian Bear Porn. I know what Toads get off on. Frogs-pawn.