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 Ebert's weird review of THE RAID: REDEMPTION
Ian McDowell
Posted: Apr 14 2012, 11:01 AM


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I'm posting this here rather than on the Asian film board because Gareth Huw Evans' Indonesian balls-to-the-wall fusion of HARD-BOILED and ASSAULT ON PRECINCT 13 is getting a lot of mainstream notice and Sony Picture Classics has gone surprisingly wide with it -- here in Greensboro, NC, it's playing in two separate theaters, The Grande and the Carmilke, and neither is the one that usually gets subtitled films and sticks them in a tiny screening room where they're obviously projected from DVD (that would the Carousel).

I'll admit that I'm probably being extreme by calling Ebert's pan of the film "weird." I don't think the movie is all mindless cynical violence and the video game comparison strikes me as cheap and inaccurate, the kind of statement made by people who don't actually play video games (I don't play them, either, but I've had friends and roommates who did, and the action here didn't strike me as all that similar). But I can at least see where he's coming from in his overall negative reaction (even though I liked it a lot). What I don't get is this statement:

"What country are we in? The movie never tells us. (It was filmed in Indonesia.) Establishing Rama as a Muslim seems pointless, except as a cheap fakeout in character development."

Why on Earth should an Indonesian film tell American audiences what country it was filmed in? And since that country is the one with the largest Muslim population, it makes cultural sense that the hero would begin his morning routine (and the film) on his prayer mat. Is it "pointless" when cops in movies set in New York and Boston go to Confession or light candles in a church? Roger, what are you on about?

Ebert's complete review is here.
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Ian McDowell
Posted: Apr 14 2012, 11:18 AM


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For the record, my own take on the movie is that it's a good, tense, gripping action film, one of the best in recent years, that due to its stripped-down nature could have benefited by being 15 minutes shorter. I'd love to have seen it with a larger audience (we were at a 4 p.m. matinee on the day it opened here, yesterday, and several websites had the film as not opening until today, Saturday the 14th, in that particular theater, so I'm not surprised there weren't that many people there). I suspect the cheering that's supposedly happened at various press and festival screenings (and in New York) would add to the experience.

Iko Uwais is an engaging and likeable lead as Rama, who projects a nice vulnerability even when he's fighting ten guys at once. He's not quite the incredible acrobat that Tony Jaa, to whom he's been compared, is, and while Silat is fascinating to watch, it doesn't come across as effectively brutal as Muay Thai does (I think it's the "rubber-limbed" way so many of the kicks and punches look). But he's a better actor than Jaa. I also liked Joe Taslim as veteran cop Jaka and Donny Alamsyah as Rama's criminal brother, who reminded me a bit of Andy Lau. And as so many reviews have said, Yayan Ruhian is great (and scary as Hell) as Mad Dog, whose name and character seem a bit of a nod to Phillip Kwok in HARD-BOILED, although he looks more like a really nimble Al Leong crossed with a seedy rastah leprechaun.

There's a bit of shaky cam, particularly during the gun battles, but the hand-to-hand stuff remains clear and exciting, in contrast to the Bourne movies where you wouldn't know that the hero is doing Silat without the production notes. The setting pretty much requires the washed-out, dimly-lit look, but on the particular big screen I saw it on, it didn't seem too aggressively digitally processed. And the new score isn't annoying, and remains thankfully ambient and appropriate to the gritty John Carpenter vibe.
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Kim Greene
Posted: Apr 18 2012, 02:42 AM


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Sweet! I just saw THE RAID:REDEMPTION this past weekend---here's my take on it from the Asian Cinema board--I was wondering if anyone else on this board had seen it yet:

http://www.mhvf.net/

This post has been edited by Kim Greene on Apr 18 2012, 02:45 AM
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Yi Lee
Posted: Apr 25 2012, 10:38 AM


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Hey Ian (and everybody else),

I haven't seen this movie and can't comment on it but believe it or not I think Ebert's observation regarding video games is not too far off the mark here. Let me explain.

The visual grammar of fight scenes in mainstream movies nowadays seems heavily influenced by massively multi-player on-line role-playing game (MMORPG) conventions, particularly how extra-ordinary martial ability is represented (I'm thinking mostly fantasy wuxia movies here.) Moreover, the staggered waves of enemy forces found in first person shooting (FPS) games seems to have affected the pacing of how groups attack a protagonist (I'm thinking actioners involving gun play here.) Mind you, my observation is mainly for mainland Chinese movies and TV--where there is a rabid mainstream following for both MMORPGs and FPSes--but I wouldn't be surprised if other film industries imitated some of the visual tropes of mainstream Chinese cinema simply because they look cool and distinctive (or if they themselves have an active local gaming culture.)
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Victor Boston
Posted: Apr 26 2012, 07:00 AM


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Anything that stops that time-honored scenario where a wave of fighters attack the hero but stand around waiting their turn as they face-off a few at a time. Is it an Asian cultural honor thing that has them politely stay back or a filmmaking conceit as it's clear that the movie'd be over if they all just rugby tackled the hero and brought him to the ground by sheer outnumbering. Some filmmakers give their background actors something to do so it's handled well - I thought Chocolate did a reasonable job with the large scale onslaughts.

Victor
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Yi Lee
Posted: Apr 26 2012, 11:29 AM


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Hey Victor (and everybody else),

Margaret Wan, in her monograph _Green Peony and the Rise of the Chinese Martial Arts Novel_ (Albany, NY: SUNY Press, 2009), which attempts to dissect the martial arts novel and identify its chief morphological characteristics thereby enabling her to trace the genre's origins to, among other things, performative chantefable of the Lower Yangzi region alongside other late Qing dynasty (popular) literary forms, makes the useful distinction between martial arts fiction--whose action sequences focus on individuals in small scale combat--and martial romances--whose depictions of violence center on large scale, epic military encounters between large groups and armies (mostly terrestrial but sometimes augmented by divine intervention.) The former deals more with individual accomplishment and the ethics of good/just combat among discrete contestants whilst the latter seems to focus on mass warfare as a way to telescope developments within the unfolding pageant of national/global history. What I'm trying to say is this: a convention of martial arts fiction that Wan seems to tease out is if a fight is too big in scope or involves too many combatants, it portends to having more historical significance or moral importance than a regular, localized tussle among combatants.

Pics like Yuen Woo-ping's "Tai-chi Master" (1993) really blur the line but I think panoramic battles with all hell breaking loose on all sides (the so-called "ten-sided ambush" cliche) are more the exception than the rule. To populate a fight scene with too many fighters pushes the story into another genre entirely? Just spit-balling, so to speak, but that might be a reason why fight choreography in martial arts films has its artificial ceiling of limited combatants in limited direct combat (captains holding back and waiting for lackeys to give it an individual go vs. a mad scrum centered around the protagonist.)

user posted image
"Whoa, aren't you people supposed to wait your turn in the queue?"

This post has been edited by Yi Lee on Apr 26 2012, 01:03 PM
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Ian McDowell
Posted: Apr 28 2012, 01:01 AM


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That cliche is actually strongest in a lot of American stuff. Back when Ric Meyers wrote the first edition of THE MARTIAL ARTS FILM in the 80s, he commented on how the typical Chuck Norris fight scene consisted of Chuck simply standing there while goons attacked him one at a time.

Jackie Chan and Sammo Hung generally did a good job of avoiding that by having their protagonists run around a lot. As they were always on the move -- in Jackie's case, often trying to get away -- it was much harder for the villains to gang up on them and more believable that the hero would only be engaging a couple of guys at a time. And both Jackie and Sammo liked to choreograph fights where they were blocking (or just being pummeled by) multiple blows from multiple opponents. Jackie in particularly was always such a blur that it became believable that the bad guys wouldn't be able to bumrush and dogpile him.

THE RAID does something interesting with this. When a bunch of machete wielding goons corner Iko in a hallway, rather than standing there and waiting for them, he runs AT them. This is apparently a real Silat technique, as that art allegedly teaches you to carry the fight to your attacker or attackers whenever possible, and to directly charge them rather than waiting for them to come to you, even if you're outnumbered.
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Sheldon Warnock
Posted: Jun 9 2012, 08:55 AM


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WildGrounds.com:
"The Raid: Buzz Redemption" (June 5, 2012)
http://wildgrounds.com/2012/06/05/the-raid-buzz-redemption/
QUOTE
A smart reader had the great idea to see how many "The Raid" articles have been posted on [Twitch. "Bradford 2012 Review: THE RAID: REDEMPTION" (May 8, 2012) is the forty-seventh (47th) Twitch article about the movie, and the fifth (5th) Twitch review of it.] The results... A tsunami of news? THE RAID, THE RAID everywhere! Hard to keep up?

[JPEG of Sasori41@ADC's outdated list of the articles in question]

Let's push further! When the film was finally coming out in North American theaters, the distributor Sony Pictures had the great idea to create this amazing poster... Oh wait! What's written on the building...? [The following: "'The best action movie in decades!' - TwitchFilm".]

[JPEG of the poster in question]

And if you look carefully, you can see the name of Twitch founder Todd Brown at the bottom of the poster. Most reviews published online were positive (7.4 rating on RottenTomatoes), and yet... Great choice!

The website of the executive producer is praising the film! [One of the companies that produced The Raid was Los Angeles County-based XYZ Films, which has "an ownership stake in" Twitch, and is partners with Paris-based Celluloid Dreams in the international sales agent for the movie, Celluloid Nightmares.] What's next? A quote from the director himself saying that he loved working on this project? Not obvious enough? Marketing fail.
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William S. Wilson
Posted: Nov 6 2013, 10:30 AM


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I still have not seen THE RAID, but here is the first trailer for the sequel:

http://www.cinemablend.com/new/Raid-2-Trai...aten-40174.html


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