Saturday, 3 March 2012

The Raid


The spring edition of the horror festival, Film4 Frightfest, celebrated its seventh year at Glasgow’s Film Festival last month with a schedule of 11 film premieres- the biggest of their weekenders yet with an additional 3 films in the line-up than in the previous year.

The UK’s favourite horror and fantasy film festival did not disappoint as it boasted a firm line-up of horror mayhem, among which was the UK premiere of CRAWL from the China brothers (Paul & Ben) and the newest instalment from director/producer/writer of 2009’s DREAD Anthony DiBlasi with CASSADAGA. The festival hosted some of its favourite masterminds of the genre; Italian madman and director of SHADOW Federico Zampaglione came to jump around and shout about (literally) his new movie TUPLA which he showcased a clip from for the very first time. Alan Jones, co-director of Frightfest, recognises that it’s important for the audience to meet the “talent behind the terror.”

After two days and 10 movies down, the festival sure ended with a bang as the film theatre had to hold onto its roof tightly during Gareth Evans’ eagerly anticipated The Raid.

You will be sure to reach an adrenalin-high after watching this super-exhilarating, blood-pumping action film by welsh director of MERANTAU, Gareth Evans.

Rama (Iko Uwais) is part of a SWAT team who are sent to raid a building full of degenerates. As the team are quickly picked off in several shoot-outs and bare-knuckle fights of the most brutal and spectacularly visual kind in their attempts to reach the ‘gang leader’ on the top floor, Rama is determined to complete his mission- to fight his way through whatever or whoever stands in his way.

Uwais, who has before only ever starred in Merantua as Yuda, has been learning Silat (an Indonesian traditional martial art) since he was a young boy and his extreme talents as a fighter, stunt artist and choreographer are overwhelming in what has to be a career defining performance. Himself and Yayan Ruhian, who did the majority of the choreography work, have to be credited for the range and diversity, not to mention the complexity, of the fight sequences some of which last minutes without cutting. [Most notably, the ultimate fight between Rama, Jaka (Joe Taslim) Mad Dog (Yayan Ruhian) is visceral eye candy for those who wish to witness an endurance match of utter viciousness and brutality; a jaw-dropping combat of precision, intensity and power between three true masters of the arts.]

Acting as the core of the movie, the numerous fight scenes are mind-blowingly imaginative and innovative; Powerful and pacing. The way in which Evans directs the camera is intimate enough for you to get close to the action- to feel the stabs, the bullets, the punches. Though he spares the audience at times, much to his credit, by taking a few steps back to allow us to see the scope of the action. Even when the combat is hammered off-screen, you are still able to grasp the impact of the unseen. While some directors fall into, and arguably overuse, the ‘video-game’ style of camera work when creating a piece of this disposition, Evans does well to avoid this by instead exploring a diverse range of camera angles mixed with both quick-cutting edits and suspense-building sequences.

But don’t think that this is an action film of just action. The direction of the film is slick and the back story to the character of Rama which comprises his obstacles are moving and fits into the narrative superbly.

Now firmly embedded into the Indonesian film industry since becoming a resident there, Evans mixes his western roots with his flare for eastern techniques to create this unique piece. He celebrates the raw talent of the East by providing a fresh reminder of what can be achieved with cleverly designed special effects and a firm ignorance of CGI. The post production of visual and sound effects fit incredibly well with the pulsating soundtrack by Aria Prayogi and Fajar Yuskemal, doing justice to, and completing, the genius work of the film’s cast and crew that I sense will be long celebrated- and not just by enthusiasts of the genre.

 The Raid is to receive a UK release in mid-May and is certainly an experience not one to be missed on the big screen.

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