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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