Cultwatch! The Raid

Jimmy and Tom both love a good action movie.  They both love chatting up the stuff they watch for Gabbing Geek.  What they don’t necessarily know what to do with is how to discuss awesome action movies where most of the story is just cool fight scenes.  Those are hard to discuss in chats.  But they tried anyway for Cultwatch! with a look at 2011’s The Raid.

The Raid

jimmy:  I’m not sure how much conversation we’re going to have on this since it was mostly guns firing and ass kickings for 100 minutes.

tomk:  Is that a problem?

jimmy:  Not at all, just won’t lead to much to talk about probably.

tomk:  So, you didn’t feel confined like a cop in a crawl space seeing a machete go through the wall in front of him?

jimmy:  Oh yeah. It was very well made, with some innovative directing and fight choreography.

tomk:  That’s the appeal of The Raid. It had a fairly tiny budget so it set up a super simple plot and just came up with the most creative ways of dispensing carnage.

Most of the main actors involved in the fights are legitimate martial arts masters apparently.

jimmy:  Not surprising. So…who was the “star”? The rookie cop with the kid on the way I assume?

tomk:  Oh yeah.

The actor’s name is Iko Uwais. He was the best thing in a bad Mark Wahlberg movie from this past summer called Mile 22. I wanted him to be the lead actor in that one.

Though it wasn’t as bad as when Thai martial artist Tony Baa made that Fast and the Furious movie and it seemed like he was only there to let Paul Walker beat him up at the end.

jimmy:  But now he’s dead, so we’ll forgive him.

tomk:  Wait, TONY JAA IS DEAD?!?

jimmy:  Oh…Tony Jaa…no, Tony Baa is dead.

tomk:  Stupid autocorrect…

Unless you mean Tony Plow. Like in Leave it to Beaver.

jimmy:  Tony Plow is dead? (Probably, since that show came on like 100 years ago.)

tomk:  Are we off topic?

jimmy:  Heh. I told you this would be a tough one.

tomk:  jimmy:  One of my all time favorite episodes.

Slightly back on topic, whoever choreographed this movie should have done Iron Fist season 1.

tomk: 

The first one on the list.

But yeah, this was a movie where they probably didn’t have much of a budget, so they just went nuts with what they could do.

The cops are, as outclassed as they may be, mostly professionals.

The crooks are smart and control the building.

And the fight scenes are tremendous.

jimmy:  That first scene from the video was remarkable. (Side note to self: I really need to watch Fury Road and Crouching Tiger again.)

tomk:  Yes. Yes, you do.

jimmy:  But that does point out the great directing and storytelling. Especially near the beginning. The movie almost seems to be in two pieces. The first half or so where guns are blazing and bad guys at every turn. The second half is more personal and seemingly endless martial arts battles with just a couple of combatants.

tomk:  And many of those fights when they go one on one could go either way. The fight between Mad Dog and the Sergeant looked like it could either way at various points.

jimmy:  I was surprised Jaka died.

tomk:  Because you knew Joe Taslim was a former world class Judo champ?

jimmy:  …exactly!

tomk:  The second half would be more personal. Most of the red shirts and mooks are dead by then.

jimmy:  Yeah, this movie had a very high body count. When it starts with like 5 executions, you know you are in for it…

tomk:  Hey, that one guy got a couple seconds more of life when the drug lord had to stop to reload!

jimmy:  Yeah, that was tough to watch. Poor guy thinks he catches a break because the gun is empty, instead he gets beaten to death with a hammer.

tomk:  You had to know how bad a man that drug lord was.

I mean he has the two most dangerous sidekicks in the business with the intimidating names of Mad Dog…and Andi.

jimmy:  Haha

That was a great Saturday morning cartoon show in the 80’s.

tomk:  Yeah. It came on after SWAT Cats.

So, were you surprised about Andi’s secret?

jimmy:  That they were brothers?

tomk:  No. I meant how he really wanted to be a dancer when he grew up, but his strict mother wouldn’t hear of it as she wanted him to be a brain surgeon.

jimmy:  I must have missed that subtext in the subtitles.

tomk:  You gotta read between the lines.

Like the bit where it comes out that Donny Alamsyah played Iko Uwais’ brother in a previous Gareth Edwards movie called Merantau.

I didn’t expect Mad Dog to explain that in the middle of the Jaka fight, but there ya go.

jimmy:  I have a hard enough time reading the lines and keeping up with the action on screen, let alone between them.

tomk:  That was actually sorta my point.

You get the beginning of the movie and we see Rama praying, saying goodbye to his pregnant wife, and then having a conversation with his father about bringing someone back.

And then we get a lot of action, making it easy to forget that conversation happened. The corrupt police lieutenant gets more attention for much of the movie.

jimmy:  I had forgotten that conversation.

tomk:  Me too!

That was my point. It’s cryptic, short, and then about halfway through, we meet the fearsome and dangerous-sounding Andi and…we learn what that conversation we completely forgot about because of awesome martial arts fights meant.

That’s actually a point in the movie’s favor.

It set something up, created some stakes beyond Rama and some of the others simply getting out of there alive, and then we get the brothers teaming up to take down Mad Dog.

jimmy:  It’s like they knew what they were doing right from the start!

tomk:  Yes!

Well, this may not have been the most in-depth conversation, but did you have anything else to add, Jimmy? Like how the lieutenant went in to arrest a drug lord and ended up arrested himself?

jimmy:  I never liked that guy from the start.

As I said off the hop, it’s a hard movie to have an in-depth discussion on. It has some depth but is mostly about kicking ass.

tomk:  It does that very well. Did you have a favorite fight?

jimmy:  Hmmm. Hard to say. Maybe the final with Mad Dog. But his fight with Jaka was good too. Lots of great action in the hallway. It’s tough to choose. You?

tomk:  The one on ones were great, but I’ll go with Rama against the hallway machete gang.

jimmy:  Yeah. Hard to argue about any of them.

tomk:  Well, it’s a great movie but pretty straightforward. Cops and crooks kill each other. Shall we grade it? It did lack exploding eyeballs this time.

jimmy:  Surprisingly.

tomk:  Your grade then?

jimmy:  8.5 subtitled profanities out of 10.

tomk:  Huh. My DVD was dubbed.

No matter. 9 out of 10 explosive refrigerators.

jimmy:  Another great scene. And the multiple times going through the floor to the next floor.

tomk:  But after seeing this, it just reminded me that there’s a lot of great martial artists out there in other countries’ movies, but we only see them if they play second fiddle to some American actor. Or are Jackie Chan.

jimmy:  No doubt.

tomk:  Hence my earlier comment on Paul Walker and Tony Baa or Jaa.

Which wasn’t Walker’s fault, and that is the same series if not the same movie that decided Michelle Rodriguez could take Rhonda Rousey.

jimmy:  In an acting showdown maybe.

tomk:  Yes. In that.

Well, we should try something else then. How about something I haven’t seen before for a change?

jimmy:  Is it something I haven’t seen before?

tomk:  I don’t know. Have you seen Cabin in the Woods?

jimmy:  I have not.

tomk:  Then let’s watch that. And maybe we’ll get some more company for this one.

jimmy:  It better not be Watson…

tomk:  Um…

NEXT TIME:  Something new for both Tom and Jimmy as the guys check out the 2012 meta-horror movie The Cabin in the Woods.

tomk74

Defender of the faith, contributing writer, debonair man-about-town.

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