Review: The Raid

Garth Evans, Welsh born director of the new Indonesian action/ martial arts film The Raid, knows how to stage some great action.  His first work, Merantau, was very watchable and it seemed as if Iko Uwais (his star, master of Silat) was on his way to becoming the next Tony Jaa.  Unfortunately, the hype about The Raid is as excessive as his use of elbowing people in the back while they try for a take down.  It’s pretty cool, but we can’t figure out what exactly makes it so noteworthy.

At first the film builds a decent amount of tension and the timing is spot on, making the viewer cringe with the feeling of anticipation Tarantino gave us in Inglorious Bastards.  There’s some decent gun-fu, improvised explosions, and a few crazy kills.  These shots place The Raid in the “must check out on Netflix” category, but not quite in the “get the gang together and lets meet at the theater” category.

Some of the typical flaws you might find in any fight flick are here and are a bit distracting:  Why isn’t he picking up any of the weapons all over the floor?  Why is that other guy waiting to attack in the one vs many fights?  The scoring is also terrible, spoiling the flow of the action and peaking before the final blow is dealt. It’s as if the composer really hated the idea of his audience being surprised at all.

At one point we were able to predict what moves we’re coming next, as if Evans (or Uwais and his team) ran out of techniques and tried re-remixing their own work within a single film.  Elbow to the knee, whirl around and knee to the head… Uwais does a fair job and moves really well, but quickly you can tell he is more fighter than stuntman.  This limits the entertainment value of what is essentially an hour long fight scene with a brief setup attached to it.

Our other complaint is that the women in this film (of which there are nearly zero) are depicted as weak and sick.  Evans should take some cues from the Chinese and Thai martial arts film scenes (and the US in some cases) and grow up a bit when it comes to depicting female characters.  We would much rather see women getting in on the killing action than lying in bed, weak, pregnant, or addicted to drugs.

With Trent Reznor tweeting about it and all of the cool kids lining up to see it, we had hoped for more from The Raid.  Action fanboys and MMA kids will love it.  Those who prefer their violence served up with substance can pass.  For long time genre fans, here’s hoping TYG2 (which has Jija Yanin and Tony Jaa) is as good as it should be.

Dark Knight Vs. Dark Ninja

Saturday our son decided that he wanted to write a script and act out a one scene short film. In the early morning our wee ninja worked with dad developing the words for his scene. Mapping out the setting, characters and other details of the scene to be filmed. After much conversation and a few re-edits a script was born:

 

All great productions need some below the line talent so the mother unit was conscripted into the project as Videographer. After some practice with the actors lines and a few dry runs the producer was ready for our first take. So happy with his first go around he called the project a wrap and asked that we upload it to the internet for all to see. Naturally, we gleefully obliged and you can view our little budding film maker’s work at the ArtAux YouTube channel.

What excites us most in this process is a manifestation of Aux’s goals.  Children are natural creators.  Their imagination is boundless. Opportunities to join so many aspects of eduction into one creative project is an exciting prospect for educators. Part of our vision for Aux is this expansion of the creative mind. Our goals include melding, arts, education and movement through martial arts. Children learn with their whole selves. Providing them projects which encourage them to do so can expand their capacities for learning while encouraging them to use one of their greatest tools, imagination.

Creating an action film short provided the child with multiple educational exercises. From writing a script to rehearsing the action and editing the production the child is involved in every part of his learning experience. The goal is not to create the greatest action film but to bring the child through the full process of creation.

The child has learned to:

Read, write, cooperate, understand process, build confidence, and memorize. He has also experienced movement, concepts of technology use & how to bring an idea from concept to final product. In other words the child has learned with his whole self. Mind and body are engaged.

This is ArtAux in action. This is how we envision children learning. Empowering their imagination and nurturing the bond between the physical and emotional.