We are celebrating violence. That was the first thing that came into my mind when me and the audience I’m with applauding this movie as the end credit rolls. I do hope that we are celebrating the movie because we, Indonesians had felt a little bit of pride as we cheered the movie. Because not only that it does very well, but because this is the first Indonesian movie (strictly speaking, a movie where the language spoken is Indonesian) in a long while that breaks the low quality barrier we’ve been so accustomed to when it comes to the local productions. Perhaps even, comparable in terms of quality to a big-budget Hollywood production. Whatever the reason, if you could stomach a little bit of violence, and “The Raid” has piqued your interest in one way or another, I don’t see no reason why you should not buy the ticket to this movie. You’ll get what you expect, and for many, perhaps even more.
When it comes to movies, I’ve got four biased preferences. They are, in no particular order, Batman, Western, Musical, and in the vein of this movie’s theme, Martial Arts. Classic Jackie Chan, Shaw Brothers, Ong Bak, you name it, a tale of men trading fist, elbow, knee, and kick always got me hooked. This movie, for all it’s worth, is equivalent to pornography for martial arts lover as myself. It is a no nonsense, literally wall to wall action and amazing fighting choreography, mixed with a rather graphic display of violence. Together, they boils down to probably the best martial arts genre that I’ve seen in quite a while, with a level of violence that is several cuts (no pun intended) above most. I’m going to this movie knowing full well of what I’m looking for, and I’ve got to say that I am satiated.
It is tempting, however, to skip all the talking parts and dive straight away to the good stuffs. Fortunately, the movie didn’t linger much too long on premise and had started the ball rolling relatively quickly. And when the ball is rolling, boy, it was unstoppable. Even so, I really liked Ray Sahetapy in this movie. Acting as the crime lord, his delivery of dialogs is menacing, although unintentionally funny, and given the lackluster of acting talent throughout the movie, his presence steals every single scene that he was in. Of course, this movie is, in essence, a mere device for the action choreography team to show off their enormous talents. Talking or acting, is rarely necessary and most of the time, proved to be a hindrance.
There’s a semblance of a plot that transcends a little bit from what little actually required. Understandable, because from what I know, Gareth Evans had planned this movie as the first of a trilogy. And of course, given its doubtless massive success and recognition after this movie, I am really excited and hoping that Iko Uwais and his action choreography team would outdid themselves on the next installments.
All in all, this movie is very violent. And even if I was taken aback by how much I cheered for the violence I’ve seen from it, we are all knowing full well that we are expected to get blown away by how much death and blood is going to be on display. In that respect, Gareth Evans, Iko Uwais, and the rest of the team that had pushed the limit of what a human body could do and sustain, are doing a terrific job, and deserved every clap, and every standing ovation that was given. I was on the edge of my seat during the finale, and standing and clapping when the end credit rolls with the rest of the audiences. Remarkable job and it is made even more remarkable by the fact that most of these guys are my fellow Indonesians. This country is really in dire need of a good news that makes me feel a little bit of pride inside my chest. And if it comes from a movie that promotes and celebrates violence, I’m still going to take it.
One last note, I have an utmost respect to Mad Dog, one of the villain character of this movie. As a one who’d like to think himself as a professional, I see Mad Dog as a true professional. He is passionate with his craft by constantly upping the ante, challenging himself in order to get better. He is, surprisingly, the only high note other than the fighting choreography that I could harvest from this violent fest flick.