An action film, when it clicks, is a thing of real beauty. It requires machine-like precision. When you’ve got guns involved, they have to roar. There needs to be blood bags and bullet casings. When there’s hand to hand combat, you need to feel there’s an army of chiropractors just offscreen cracking their knuckles. We all grew up watching Steven Segal, JCVD and Arnie mowing down hundreds of faceless grunts and casually breaking necks but of late, well we’ve been a bit deprived of the primal urge of watching men eliminating other men with extreme prejudice. Obviously Gareth Huw Evans thought the same, and it’s to everyones benefit that, bizarely, one of the best action movies in years has been written, directed and edited by a 27 year old Welsh man in Indonesia.
The hype for The Raid has been a bit OTT – as usual in these tinternet days where everything is either amazing or a load of sweaty balls – but The Raid is just great fun. It doesnt redefine cinema, and the (rare) bits that arent incredibly violent are just dull, but that’s the video-game nature of 100 minutes of a group of cops versus a large gang of assorted frenzied machete wielding gangsters in a tenement. The main good guy Rama’s going to be a huge star with his mindblowing speed and athleticism, but even he’s outshone by the extraordinary Mad Dog, the diminutive but rage fueled and almost unkillable uber-henchman.
It takes a lot nowadays for anything other than porn or extremely harsh horror to get an 18 certificate, but The Raid – with its multiple fractures, incisions and blunt force traumas – earns it with flying colours. The plot and dialogue are non-existent, but it doesnt really matter..that’s like having a go at a Pixar movie for its lack of full frontal male nudity…it might be interesting but it’s not actually a requisite part of the film’s structure. It’s considered a back-handed compliment to say a film is best suited to a friday night session with your mates on an alcohol level of about 3-5 pints each, but that’s exactly what The Raid is. A testosterone suppository blasted right up the sphincter of your local fleapit. Go see it and walk out afterwards feeling taller, hairier and more sexually confident. Expect to see this in a lot of top ten lists come year end.
And to celebrate The Raid kicking everyone’s arse, here’s a few other well-oiled beat em ups that you may have missed…
This one is the amazing Tony Jah in Tom Yum Goong, also known as Warrior King or The Protector. A terrible movie on many levels….the plot? Tony’s elephants are stolen from his village and he follows the pachydermal poachers to Sydney where he shouts “where are my elephants!” and unleashes quite extraordinary vengeance upon hundred of menials and some amazing end-of-level baddies. Everything that isnt the action scenes is awful but by hell the action scenes are just amazing. Also has a baby elephant being thrown through a window by an wrestler. This scene is the one one where TJ breaks the arms and legs of at least 50 men. There’s also a fantastic scene with Tony fighting a capeira fighter, followed by a swordsman, followed by a seven foot man-mountain. And a legendary single-take scene where he takes out an entire multi-story brothel. Has to be seen.
Born to Fight
Plotless fighty mentalness from the producers of Ong Bak and Warrior King and not a patch of either of those, but just look at this scene and thank your supernatural entity of choice that you’re not a member of the Thai stuntman’s union.
A movie than failed to mostly failed to deliver, but did contain this amazingly brutal, messy and bone crunching bathroom assassination. Also worth checking out for the ultraviolent opening scene and the final battle between an army of ninjas and SWAT forces.
The Story of Ricky
I’ve just put this in for the laugh, as it must be one of the worst movies ever made, but just watch this little compendium. Possibly not on a full stomach.