Lessons learned from The Raid: Redemption

by Mr. Nobel

The Raid: Redemption is a fine action/martial arts/gorefest movie. It doesn’t quite reach any pantheons of the genre, because of a god awful script and some really god awful cinematography. The latter, however, was probably intentional. Here are a few takeaways from that watching that movie.

1. Dubstep

Yes, dubstep. While The Raid: Redemption was heavily influenced by the action cinema of the 70s and Asian martial art flicks, the film’s biggest contribution to action is dubstep. Jesus Christ there’s a lot of bwwwwwwwwwwwwwabwwwabwwabwbewbwbwbwbwbwbv. To be fair, dubstep isn’t necessarily a bad thing in action films. Action movies rely a lot on heavy bass on the soundtrack, and dubstep is all about bass. It’s just…a little god damned wiggedy whack and jarring to hear this much dubstep when Indonesian men are gruesomely fucking up other Indonesian men, and god damned jarring when the soundtrack switches from dubstep to a light piano melody.

2. If you’re going to have a terrible script, shoot it in a foreign language

The Raid: Redemption’s script is god awful. While there are a lot of rave reviews for the film itself, I’ve yet to see anyone go so far as to praise the script. It’s generic, cliched, underdeveloped, messy and just not very good. However, all of this (and the bad dialogue) is a lot more palatable because the film’s in Indonesian. Reading subtitles adds a layer of distance between you and the terrible dialogue, and Indonesian’s very lyrical slurring add some class to the shitty writing. Listen to the way the bad guy says, “Please enjoy yourself,” in the trailer. Terrible line of dialogue soothed by neat pronunciation.

3. Never trust IMDB and the internet about a movie

Prior to watching the movie, I had heard an awful lot of raucous on the internet about how The Raid: Redemption was one of the greatest action movies ever made. I didn’t really take any of these exultations to heart, but the rave reviews from fanboys and IMDB users did convince me to watch the movie. While I think The Raid: Redemption was pretty good, it was nowhere near as good as some of the folks on the web have been making this film out to be. The fact that this movie has an 8.4 on IMDB is just…beyond me.

I’m generalizing here – there are obviously very insightful and tasteful critics on the internet – but the vast majority of these kind of reviews are short-sighted and hyperbolic, especially when you lump them together in an aggregate. Remember when The Dark Knight and Inception cracked IMDB’s Top 10 movies of all time? Remember when Avatar did? Yeah. Jeez.

4. The arthouse theater is a terrible place to watch an action movie

So, I might have liked the aforementioned dubstep soundtrack a little more if the speakers in my auditorium weren’t crap. And I might have liked The Raid: Redemption a whole lot more if the theater wasn’t tiny as hell and I had a seat that didn’t force me to crank my neck at a 70 degree angle.

Look, most modern indie movies – the vast majority of the films shown in arthouse theaters – rely on a clever script rather than great visual storytelling. Lighting a scene well, using good filmstock and/or high-end digital cameras, commissioning a great score…that’s really fucking expensive. Writing great characters, coming up with smooth, witty one-liners? It just takes time. So, for a good portion of the films being shown at your local arthouse theater, a crappy projector, crappy screen and crappy sound system don’t kill the movie.

For an action movie? Yeah, that shit definitely – bwwwwwwwwwwwabwwwwwabwwwabwbwbwbwwb – kills the movie.