One hundred films so far this year. How do I feel? Fucking exhausted. Oh well, only another three quarters of the year to go, right? My, my, that’s a lot of popcorn.
Continuing my coverage of the excellent CPH:PIX film festival, I decided to get away from all the artsy fartsy indie stuff and see one hundred minutes of unabatedly gruesome, martial arts action from Indonesia.
Written and directed somewhat surprisingly by Welshman Gareth Evans, The Raid has the most elementary story of any film I’ve seen all year. In a nutshell, a police force invade a drug lord’s headquarters. Fists are thrown, guns are blown, almost everyone dies. Move along, nothing else to see here.
Although it might not reach the cumbersome body count of Stallone’s 2008 rehash Rambo (236 deaths, if you’re asking), The Raid can’t be too far off with the death toll. Luckily enough, it seems that the general population of Indonesia are all experts in extreme martial arts – it’s probably in the school curriculum – meaning that the action comes in thick, fast, and bruises like a peach. So much so that halfway through the film, with wafer light dialogue, it all becomes a bit banal, making even the biggest fan of the formulaic genre switch off.
Sitting in a packed city cinema, I was surprised just how comical the 100% penis-adorning audience found the film. Although martial arts movies are brutal in subject matter, the battles are always so meticulously choreographed that they never usually border the fringes of shock-horror. However, with Evans deciding to make the action as graphic as possible, the increasingly ludicrous deaths are presented in a eerily comic light. Perhaps an example of Evans’ being able to rethink the tired genre, or maybe it’s incessant, mindless violence. Either way, this Glamorgan filmmaker looks set to be a prominent figure in this fighting field.
Anyway, I’m off to taekwondo classes now. This week we’re learning how to do this.