“The Raid”, Cracking Blockbuster, Shot For Barely $1m.

 The Raid is, to say the least, something of an oddity. An Indonesian martial arts film made by a Welshman, and shot for just $1.1m. But what renders it especially odd is that it’s really good.

Essentially, it’s Die Hard re-imagined as a Bruce Lee film. Our hero is a young, honest and therefore world-weary cop who arrives with his unit at a derelict housing block to take on an underworld drugs baron holed up in one of Jakarta’s most notorious slums.

The whole thing takes place in the building they try to storm. And it’s exhilarating. It just builds and builds. It’s as unrelenting an adrenalin rush as you’re likely to get short of turning to the sorts of people our hero is trying to rid the Jakarta streets of.

Written, directed and edited, brilliantly, by Gareth Evans, this is the second time he has teamed up Iko Uwais, his leading man, and a figure apparently revered in the sorts of circles where the Indonesian martial art of Pencak Silat is practiced.

They’d previously made Merantau together in 2009. And thanks to the buzz generated by The Raid, they’re likely to be working together for the foreseeable future.

Hollywood has already picked it up and entrusted them both to oversee the remake, together with their chief choreographers. And the same team are busy at work on what will now be the sequel, Berandal in what looks sure to be (at the very least) a trilogy.

It seems unlikely, judging from what little there is in the way of conventional characterization, that Evans will be graduating to more traditional story-telling any time soon. But why would he want to? He’s the natural heir to John Carpenter.

He looks at what all the big studios try to do with their leading men. And marvels, as we all do, at how inexplicably dull and dreary the results, and at how staggeringly inept they are at it. And says, I could do that, only much, much better, for a fraction of the cost, and with somebody much more interesting. This is the result.

This year’s surprise package, The Raid has been wooing audiences the world over. It won the Best Film and the Audience award at 2012 Dublin film festival. And, to pick just one example, the five star review the Guardian gave it here, summed up most people’s response to it.

And if you’d like to get a quick feel for how they made it, have a look at the five minute making-of vimeo clip they posted on the film’s blog, here. 

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