Saturday, April 7, 2012

MOVIE - The Raid.

I made Kayla sit through two kung-fu movies the other night - Iron Monkey and Drunken Master (both of which, oddly enough, are directed by famed Matrix/Kill Bill fight choreographer Yuen Woo-ping) - and it occurred to me why dudes love a good kung-fu flick.  

This is dancing that we can enjoy.  There is beauty and artistry, here, that we can feel very connected to, and involved in.

It's been a while since I really enjoyed a balls-out action movie.  When I was talking about the best movies movies I saw in 2011, I told you Kung Fu Panda was, I'm afraid, the best action movie of the year - but that if you wanted a violent flick that really involved you in the brutality onscreen, you should check out Super, Hanna and Thirst.

Those three movies, it should be noted, are not action movies per se - they're first and foremost good movies - and as a result, action which takes place within them feels more important, and impactful.

The Raid (Serbuan Maut) - known in North America as The Raid: Redemption - is a front-and-center action movie, in the same way The Transporter or District 13 are action movies.  No bones about it.

It has a very, very simple story - but director Gareth Evans actually has a very refined touch when it comes to building suspense.  For the first twenty minutes or so of the movie, you are entirely on the edge of your seat as nothing happens.

Suspense just builds and builds until finally people start kicking the shit out of each other, highlighting Evans' love affair with Indonesian martial art Pencak Silat (see: lots of fast strikes, elbows and knees) - but he miraculously maintains the tension.

This is not action as Hollywood has come to define it - replete with extreme close-ups and the occasional slow-mo and smash cuts that essentially rob every action scene of its beauty. That's not dancing we can enjoy, any more - now it's just shaky cams and shuddering frames, and our imaginations are meant to fill in the rest.

Evans doesn't take that rout - he shows us every frame, every combination of blink-and-you'll-miss-it moves - only cutting away when necessary.  Tension and immersion are increased, eyes wide with amazement at the ability on display - and we are spellbound, unable to look away.

Towards the end of the film, after a particularly long and grueling sequence, when the bad guy was finally dead and the hero triumphant, there was the briefest of moments where you could hear a pin drop in the theater.  Was the bad guy going to come back?

No - it was safe to breath again - and throughout the room you could hear people turning to each other and pronouncing "that was awesome."  A round of applause went up - a woop could be heard.

We all exhaled, finally, and breathed easy - we all laughed off the phenomenal tension this movie creates.

Want to see a great action flick?

You want to see The Raid.

1 comment:

  1. Iron Monkey is my favorite kung-fu flick; and probably the closest thing we'll ever get to a good Captain Marvel movie.