Film: The Raid hits martial arts jackpot
April 20th, 2012
Omaha, NE – Although it’s not for the faint of heart, fans of martial arts may have just hit the jackpot. From the Movieha podcast, Ryan Syrek and Matt Lockwood take a look at The Raid: Redemption.
Ryan: The American ratings board, the MPAA, has a funny sense of priorities. When it comes to a certain four letter word that starts with F…
Ryan: Sure, for the purposes of family friendly radio, if you say “farm” too much, you may get slapped with an NC-17, the stiffest rating. And if you show certain exposed body parts?
Matt: Like an elbow or a calf?
Ryan: Why not? If you expose “an elbow” or a “calf” too much, you can get an NC-17 rating. But if you shove a broken fluorescent light bulb into a dude’s jugular vein, it’s no biggie. So if you’re keeping track at home, it’s worse to say farm or see an elbow than it is to watch a fictional person die.
Matt: So then you must not have liked The Raid: Redemption? Directed by Scottish filmmaker Gareth Evans, the film is actually Indonesian and has been a huge hit at American festivals. But seeing as how you would rather see elbows and say farm, you probably didn’t like it, huh?
Ryan: Nope, I loved it. In part because the characters are so underdeveloped.
Matt: You’re confusing me.
Ryan: Recap the plot.
Matt: A special forces police team tries to take down a crime lord who lives inside an apartment complex entirely populated by murderers and bad guys. Violence ensues.
Ryan: And that’s it, right?
Matt: Pretty much.
Ryan: And now think about the characters, other than the fact that the good guy has a pregnant wife, can you think of any other distinguishing features?
Matt: Do scars count?
Ryan: They do not.
Matt: Then no.
Ryan: And there you have it. What you have is essentially human cartoons. They are three dimensional human punching bags who can take an unimaginable amount of punishment and keep on kicking. Hence, pretty much guilt free on the violence front, as it never feels real.
Matt: I tell you what was real, the fight choreography. Unlike the hyper-edited Bourne movies or the super-close-ups that are often used to hide poor action scenes, The Raid is nothing but well-lit, well-shot, intense hand-to-hand fighting. It’s almost like ballet…if ballerinas occasionally murdered one another. Dear producers of Swan Lake, have I got an idea for you…
Ryan: Although the mental content is light to say the least, it’s almost impossible not to enjoy the frantic, kinetic action that is so meticulously designed and captured. I’m not saying it’s for everybody.
Matt: Pacifists need not apply!
Ryan: But for those who are willing to suspend fictional morality long enough to appreciate the wonder of the human form as it slaps, smacks and kicks another human form, The Raid may be the best martial arts movie in the last decade.
Editorial note: The Movieha podcast is produced in partnership with The Reader and is available at thereader.com.
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