Gareth Evans’ The Raid is an Indonesian action thriller that stars Iko Uwais. Here’s why it is undoubtedly one of the best action movies ever.
Most people associate action films with big blockbuster films like First Blood or any of the James Bond films, but not all action films are created equal. The Raid, also known as The Raid: Redemption, follows a rookie Brimob Rama who joins a 20-man squad led by Sergeant Jaka for a raid on an apartment block in an attempt to arrest the crime lord Tama Riyadi. As the SWAT team traverses the locked-down building, they face an army of goons. A great set-up for a marathon of action, The Raid is a masterpiece that not only satiates the thirst for the adrenaline rush of action, but is amazing to watch for the fight choreography alone.
Action films have a different set of standards from standard dramas. Instead of focusing on a solid plot and character development, action films focus on the action within the film. The Raid is an often forgotten film. Being technically an international-language film, that is enough for some to ignore it altogether, thinking subtitles a hassle—but as the world moves and changes, The Raid is beginning to see the recognition it deserves. The Raid received enough praise and attention that there was eventually a sequel, The Raid 2, which some would argue is superior to the original. It’s recently been revealed that Netflix is rebooting the violent action flick. Here are five reasons why The Raid is one of the best action movies of all time.
The Movie Showcases Indonesian Martial Arts
While the film is jam-packed with a variety of martial arts used in the hand-to-hand combat sequences, the main focus is Pencak Silat. Pencak Silat is a vastly underrated martial art, a traditionally Indonesian form of fighting, that is rarely used in Western action movies. With The Raid having its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival, it received more attention in the west and brought about a new type of action film. The use of this unique martial art throughout The Raid is part of what makes the film one of the best action movies of all time. Precise Pencak Silat is refreshing when compared to the action genre’s reliance on weapons, infusing more flare and artistry into the fight.
Its Action is Non-Stop
One of the downfalls of many action films is that they take too long to get going with the background and storyline. The Raid is not one of those films. It sets up the storyline with a great deal of tension and anticipation successfully before propelling the plot forward with a barrage of action sequences that keep the audience hungry for more. The rapid pace with which the team deals Riyadi’s army of goons is staggering, and the number of hits Rama takes without seeming to be fazed at all by the constant attacks is thoroughly intense. Combining pristine martial arts with the CG enhanced firing of rifles, The Raid pays homage to films like Die Hard and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, bringing out the best of both, including an improvised explosive device using a propane tank. This is just one of the many stunts throughout The Raid that is note-worthy because with the main cast of martial artists the possibilities seem limitless.
The Hyper-Kinetic Cinematography is Unique
Something often forgotten about when considering the quality of action films like The Raid is the camerawork needed to film the sequences. Gareth Evans’ cinematography during the extensive choreographed action scenes is unique and part of what makes the scenes so amazing. Using hyper-kinetic camerawork, Evans manages to weave around the opponents in such a way that the audience is able to be completely immersed in the fight. Evans’ smooth camerawork also gives off the appearance that the action is one long shot, working to the film’s advantage as the audience will feel the tension even more without cuts between actions. By keeping the camera steadily moving around the subjects, the action is smooth, so the audience is able to focus on the action rather than get distracted by choppy camerawork. This makes for a more enjoyable experience for the audience and better action sequences overall.
The Soundtrack is Perfect Accompaniment
The American soundtrack creates the right amount of tension that leaves audiences gasping for breath as the danger the Rama and Jaka face is enhanced by the tense music. A perfect example of this would be the scene where Rama defeats the Machete Gang. The slow build-up of the music to the sudden fast pace matches the choreography of the action to such a degree that it feels like it’s part of the scene. This combined with the well-placed moments of pure silence makes for a thrilling watch. The score for the American version of the film was made with the help of Mike Shinoda, co-founder of Linkin Park, well-known for his work with the group since 1996. The techno-created score is amazing enough on its own but when combined with the action, it’s a lethal combination expected to give you goosebumps.
The Actors’ Performances are Top-Notch
While an action film can be perfectly choreographed, it’s not always easy to find someone who will carry it out properly. The Raid’s cast is far from amateur when it comes to martial arts. Iko Uwais, who plays Rama, is a stuntman, fight choreographer, and martial artist. He is well known for his action films Merantau, Headshot, Mile 22, and most recently his role in the Netflix series Wu Assassins. Uwais is not the only one on the screen with martial arts experience. The majority of the actors in the main cast are experienced, martial artists. This shows in the film as every scene has a perfect level of danger that is dealt with in a pristine manner. Even if the choreography were to fall flat at some point, with so many experts on the set, mistakes and problems are easy to catch and fix without too much of a hassle.
The Amazing Spider-Man star Andrew Garfield would love to join forces with fellow Spider-People Tom Holland and Tobey Maguire again.
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