It’s been a while since I’ve written a proper article about The Raid films. I’ve posted, yeah, but it’s interesting that the film is gaining traction again, and not for nothing either.
The Gareth Huw Evans-directed martial arts-driven crime saga was released ten years ago this week with a sequel that opened a little over two years later, furthering the advancement of Southeast Asian film fandom in the wake of his inaugural thriller, Merantau, and placing actor Iko Uwais squarely on the map for today’s generation of moviegoers and genre junkies alike.
The film also paved the way for a style of cinematic action that was never really fully-fleshed out for Western audiences before – its essence inspired of course for prior films, and it wasn’t long until the subject matter of all filmmaker chatter on “The Raid style” of action was soon co-opted by talk of the “John Wick style” thereof. Not to mention, my earlier work on The Hit List column had me up to my neck in the uptick in practice fight videos online posted by stunt performers eager to test their karambit knife and FMA choreography feats.
Needless to say, The Raid was exactly the fuel that the Southeast Asian market needed, years after Indonesia’s decline in the late 1990s, and there’s no question that if given the right exposure, and people and money-backing, classic titles unbeknownst to Westerners like me would be totally up for the taking. Stars like Barry Prima and George Rudy would be more concurrent and topical amid film discussions among bloggers and industry critics.
Hell, we might even get some documentaries going in the way of documentaries like Iron Fists and Kung Fu Kicks on Netflix, or even the upcoming Hi-YAH! release of John Wei’s Kung Fu Stuntmen: Never Say No. Better yet, the long-awaited and stagnated development of Baf Sjamsuddin’s Garuda 7 might actually materialize at some point.
For now, the bevy of residual talent that’s come our way thanks to The Raid movies has since brought us the remarkable feats of actors like Yayan Ruhian, Donny Alamsyah, Joe Taslim, Cecep Arif Rahman, Julie Estelle, and Very Tri Yulisman, ensuing a rollout of many more to showcase themselves on film thanks to directors like Anggy Umbara, Timo Tjahjanto, Kimo Stamboel, Ody Harahap, Joko Anwar, Charles Gozali, Randy Korompis and others in the region.
The films’ overall aesthetics in the action department, from mise en scène to choreography and directional caliber and tone, contended with by the likes of Adrian Teh (Wira), Sabbir Khan (Baaghi) Jimmy Henderson (Jailbreak), Jesse V. Johnson (Triple Threat), Isaac Florentine (Ninja: Shadow Of A Tear), Yuji Shimomura (Re:Born), Kensuke Sonomura (Hydra) and Mamoru Oshii (Nowhere Girl) to name a few, and by all means, even Koichi Sakamoto gave The Raid a run for its money with Broken Path long beforehand, serving up a blend action and violence that drove the DTV martial arts niche stir crazy for more.
To be clear though, if you talk to enough people, you’ll learn that The Raid isn’t everyone’s cup of tea. I’ve spoken to stunt coordinators and professionals therein who aren’t too fond of how the films were delivered in the action department and who feel that more or better could have been done, or can be done otherwise elsewhere.
It’s a fair trade off, though, considering the ceremony surrounding the films and how much of a game changer they’ve proven to be, part and parcel to influencing the Western film business echelons to improve its mechanics when setting its sights on action for television and film. There have been some immense improvements as a result, making today’s action movies a worthwhile feat long after the humbling contributions of some of Hong Kong’s best in the late 1990s and mid-2000s.
Needless to say though, the conversation continues. Sony Pictures is promoting The Raid (or The Raid: Redemption as it’s known in the states) this week for its tenth anniversary, and as April approaches, subscribers to HBO Max can catch The Raid: Redemption as of April 1. Also, I’m told by people in familiar circles that a Jailbreak sequel is still in very active development following announcements back in June 2020.
As you might reckon, all of this definitely ups the antee a bit for Patrick Hughes who’s got himself a plate-full to deal with as the man shepherding a relaunch of The Raid at Netflix. The Expendables 3 showed us he was more than capable of directing a larger scale action thriller since directing Red Hill, but for The Raid?…well, The Raid is a different beast. It’s engineered in a way that will make or break you before the fandom if you’re a filmmaker with the audacity to say you’re going to reinvision a classic, which is exactly what The Raid is. And really, from that point on, we can only wish Hughes and his team the best of luck. After all, it is a celebration, and as a member of an often really loud and entropic audience, my fingers are crossed.