The Raid is one of those action movies that leaves you feeling sort of clammy and exhausted afterward, a gauntlet of intense mano-a-mano encounters between people who are very good with their manos, as well as their feet, swords, knives, tables, doorways, and so on. Action movies of its ilk can feel like an antidote to the hyperactive editing of lower-grade action movies, like, for example, the Taken series, which in one memorable sequence took 15 different shots to show a person jumping over a fence. Here, enjoy:
A thoughtful video essay from Rossatron digs into what makes The Raid’s action sequences so memorable, juxtaposing it up with other examples from Jackie Chan, The Matrix, and Oldboy, and the conclusions are a little surprising. While Rossatron does highlight specific cinematic ingredients to a good fight scene, including planning the shots in advance and not taking 15 shots to show a person jump a fence, his biggest takeaway is that movies like The Raid have clear, high stakes and emotional performances.
You can turn every character in your cop drama into a master martial artist, but if there is no narrative context or weighty result to the fight, it won’t matter. Rossatron damningly juxtaposes climactic battle scenes in Return Of The Jedi and Revenge Of The Sith, showing how much more effective the simpler choreography and emotive performances of the older film is. Another extrapolation could be made from that movie: Maybe just don’t cast Hayden Christensen in it?
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