Friday, 11 May 2012
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.