I’m aware that I’m so late to the table that this article may as well be an elongated treaty on me chewing on a wooden leg but I think I have a fairly important point to get across. Even if you disagree, you will hopefully find small comfort in the extraneous mentions of gentlemen’s ‘trouser-beans’. If this doesn’t provide comfort then I’m afraid you’re probably on the wrong website my friend…

Every few years a film arrives from the Orient and delivers a swift kick to the nuts of western action cinema. The Raid is one such film and, hopefully, it will avoid a similar fate that befell its brethren: its tics of originality diluted by poor imitations, while its director gets offered a progression of mid-range cinematic turd-polishing assignments and its star either disappears completely or swaps dignity for insta-recognition from the under 8s.

Think of Jackie Chan’s transition from Project A and Drunken Master 2 to Rush Hour 3, or John Woo’s ‘upgrade’ from Hard Boiled to Paycheck – notable for being one of the few films in existence where the title also describes the reason for its principals’ involvement. Or there are those who do not heed the call to Hollywood, preferring instead to stay at home, take the phone off the hook and paint the windows black, lest they unwittingly accept the title role in Spy Uncle 4 or Chop-Chop Cop (Tony Jaa and Stephen Chow).

To get back on the rails, what’s most refreshing about The Raid – beyond the fact that it’s violent as shit and that your eyes are able to tell you it’s violent as shit (no shaky-cam here) – is its grim practicality. While the hero is undoubtedly heroic, there’s also an element of merciless determination to get the job done. A job that is no more complex than surviving The Raid. For example, when faced with the seemingly insurmountable odds of fighting a really hard little bastard, he teams up with someone. This isn’t portrayed as unfair, nor does it display cowardice. In fact it’s actually condoned by the hard little bastard – aware, as he is, that he is a small yet really hard little bastard.

Other sequences involve our hero shooting and happy-stabbing people, finding novel uses for fridges, gas canisters and strip-lights and generally behaving like a total badass. It’s hard to see where Hollywood will take its inevitable influences. John McClane was perhaps the last big screen hero to indulge in such non-heroic heroics, and, last we saw of him, his body had been taken over by an imposter who refused to swear, didn’t smoke and could fly a helicopter.

In an ideal situation the mysterious ‘suits’ that run the American action cinema production line will see that success doesn’t depend on offering your product to as wide a demographic as possible, but upon making stripped down action tales featuring pared down plots and visually coherent action sequences that: A) make geographic sense and B) don’t shy away from showing the consequences of getting a boot in the gonads.

It’s not necessarily about advising this shadowy cabal of money-men to make good films, as it is getting them to avoid continually making bad ones. As blueprints go, The Raid is a damn near perfect example. And while it makes for a fantastic ‘How to’ guide to making great action cinema, its counterpoint, or ‘How not to’ would be Transformers 2: a bloated, confused mess whose only concession to the aforementioned rules was to show a robot’s gonads, which remain disappointingly un-pummelled for the few humourless seconds they swing across Michael Bay’s broadly-painted canvas of mentally-deficient racist hatchbacks.

Anyway, even if there are no lessons to be learnt from The Raid, and Hollywood doesn’t find its balls down the back of the sofa, we still have seen one of the finest action films of recent years. It’s nice to be blindsided every once in a while by something that seems genuinely new and exciting. Now, let’s guess where we’re first going to see The Raid’s influence. Totally Recall? Die Hard 5? Discuss!

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