The Raid

tn_theraidYou probly don’t need me to tell you that THE RAID is the new action movie phenomenon with a big buzz coming off multiple film festival conquests and a kickass trailer that made it a must-see for those of us into this type of shit. Here in the U.S. it’s in a slowly widening release (we got it in Seattle this week) under the dumb title THE RAID: REDEMPTION. The subtitle has no relation to the movie, so in my opinion it’s just called THE RAID. The THE REDEMPTION is silent.

THE RAID is from the team that debuted with a more traditional martial arts movie that I really dug, MERANTAU. It’s the Indonesian star and choreographer Iko Uwais and Welsh director Gareth Evans. Uwais is a master of the Indonesian martial art Silat, but here he’s playing a cop so he’s also a master of shooting a whole bunch of people in the head.

The setup is simple: a SWAT team is raiding a building. The drug lord they want to kill is on the 30th floor. He has two badass security guys, a bunch of thugs with machetes and money to pay the other low level criminals living in the building to protect him. Uwais plays Rama, just one of the guys on the team. We only know he’s the main guy because we saw him kissing goodbye to his pregnant wife at the beginning.

So it’s a siege movie but from the point-of-view of the siegers. It’s ASSAULT FROM PRECINCT 13.

mp_theraidThere’s a meditative, quiet-before-the-storm opening that shows who our guy is, what the plan is, and how evil the motherfucker on the top floor is. Then the raid begins and it’s almost TEXAS CHAIN SAW MASSACRE-like in its refusal to ever let up. There are some twists and reveals along the way, but nothing too complicated. If they’re not storming a hallway popping melons or trying to break a guy’s skull on a wall they’re hiding somewhere that they could be killed at any moment. THE RAID’s idea of a quiet moment is a scene where they’re stuck in a crawlspace trying not to get stabbed by a machete. It’s one of the most non-stop violent movies I can think of, but it had my attention the whole time, never seemed repetitive.

Evans keeps finding new ways to use the confined space of the building. There are many hallway battles but also fights in apartments and different hiding spaces, different security measures for the criminals, different ways to destroy walls or floors. They run out of ammo or (my favorite) encounter an enemy who prefers hand-to-hand, so there’s all kinds of stabbing, punching, kicking, headslamming, choking, bonebreaking and other types of physical activities we all enjoy in cinema.

The battle at times seems hopeless, except that our man Rama is clearly not a quitter. This is the type of guy who’s willing to tackle somebody out the window. He’s not crazy, he’s aware of the risk and the pain of falling several stories onto a fire escape, and also that he has to fight his way back up those fucking floors again. But he does it anyway. That’s Rama.

It’s shitty that I have to specify this, but the action is shot clearly. Not as surgically clean as something like HAYWIRE – there are alot of whip pans and dark scenes – but obviously carefully staged for maximum impact, and never confusing in that sadly familiar way of most modern movies. I should also note that the American release was re-scored by Mike Shinoda, known as some sort of “nu metal” guy I believe. But I like the score, it’s a constantly building and exploding flow of beats and John Carpentery keyboard drones. If you’re worried about some shitty electric guitars and squealing bullshit that doesn’t come until the end credits.

I don’t think you’re supposed to say this, but in certain ways MERANTAU is a better movie. It’s not as much guns, there’s more emphasis on the martial arts, with more use of props and acrobatics in the fights, more jumping and climbing. The choreography and photography is clearer, because the locations vary and it’s not always in close quarters like this, the camera can pull further back. There’s probly ten times more screen time spent on characterization, which alot of people thought was going overboard, but it does make for more hatable and interesting villains. And it has a sweet message, it’s about a rural kid finding his manhood by helping strangers in the big city, and about finding a use for traditional Indonesian ritual in a modern world. THE RAID is more nihilistic.

But there’s something to be said for the blunt force impact of THE RAID. The concept is so simple, the pace so relentless, the intent to kick ass so unwavering. I mean it, I have never seen a crowd so genuinely into a movie before, including at film festivals, and this was just a regular showing on a Friday night at a multiplex downtown. There were young white nerds and excited black dudes and vocally enthusiastic girls and a dad-type who seemed to have brought his teen martial arts students as a field trip, and all of us were laughing, cheering, gasping, applauding, sometimes yelling to kill somebody. Not that “I came here to have a good time so I’m gonna yell!” type of obnoxious, more like a genuine “I can’t hold it in” exhilaration. The guy next to me got so worked up he kept lunging and shadowboxing, no joke. It was a fuckin frenzy.

You know how with movies like, say, THE TERMINATOR and TERMINATOR 2, or maybe EL MARIACHI and DESPERADO, or MAD MAX and ROAD WARRIOR, or EVIL DEAD and EVIL DEAD 2, there’s the first low budget movie and then they get more of a budget and make a more elaborate and polished sequel and you love the sequel but also there’s something special about the rawness and simplicity of the first one? Somehow they’ve done that in the reverse here, scaling down from MERANTAU in budget, scope, narrative complexity and length. Unbloating. They couldn’t get enough money raised for this movie called BERENDAL so they thought of the more scaled down one-location concept and made a lower budget movie instead. (BERENDAL will now become THE RAID 2.)

MERANTAU follows a classic martial arts movie tradition of having a nice hero who’s reluctant to fight. In THE RAID our hero is the nicest one (he wants to help a resident get medicine to his wife) but he’s still a vicious fucker and part of a vicious mission. When the SWAT team sneaks up on the first watchman in the building they don’t put a hand over his mouth or a bag over his head, they strangle him with a wire. Most people they encounter in the building they put down like zombies. They don’t want anybody getting back up. In the situations where they just tie people up they sometimes come to regret it.

There’s even a part where one of them shoots at a kid to try to stop him from warning the others. The kid is going for the intercom and the bullet is flying at him in slow motion. The movie knows that this is bad but the cinematic language tells you otherwise… it tries to trick you into hoping the bullet hits the kid before his hand hits the button.

After seeing this it’s funny that people thought ELITE SQUAD was fascist. I hope this is not considered proper police procedure in Jakarta. They treat it more like the raid on bin Laden’s compound than a police raid. But it’s so shockingly over-the-line and ferocious from the beginning that it’s darkly humorous. They throw the moral high ground out the window before they even get in the front door.

Iko Uwais is very reminiscent of Tony Jaa in that he’s a boyish, friendly-seeming leading man with the constant potential to fly across a room and break a guy’s head on his knee or elbow. He’s fantastic, but he’s matched by his supporting cast, especially his collaborator Yayan Ruhian (you remember him from the elevator fight if you saw MERANTAU) as one of the druglord’s two top henchmen. In the tradition of HARD BOILED he’s known as “Mad Dog,” and he’s a uniquely great villain, shorter than everybody else, but more arrogant and vicious. While we never get an explanation of how or why our hero Rama is so badass (just a brief morning punching bag session to establish his skills), Mad Dog gets a “Just How Badass Is He?” briefing before the raid begins, with the captain poetically describing him as a “shower of fists” or something like that.

My favorite badass moment in a movie full of them actually belongs not to Rama, but to Mad Dog. Rama comes in on Mad Dog, who has another formidable fighter named Andi (Doni Alamsyah) strung up on chains and is torturing him. Mad Dog’s reaction is not what I expected: it’s to lower Andi, let Rama unchain him, then gesture for them to spread apart so he can stand between them and fight. It’s great because villains are so often shown as cowards or dirty fighters, and usually the hero has to be outnumbered because that’s how you challenge him. It’s a great novelty for the villain to get the cocky Bruce Lee moment and earn the audience’s admiration by challenging two people at once.

And Mad Dog (or “that little motherfucker CRAZY!” as the guy next to me named him) is up to the challenge. It’s such a brutal, exhausting fight that when it was over there was sustained applause from my crowd. And it’s not even one of those villains that’s so gleefully evil you want to see him get it, it was more like he was just so tough that it was a well earned victory even thought it took two guys to do it. In fact, I feel like part of the applause was for Mad Dog for lasting so long. Congratulations to all three fighters.

Some people have asked me what I thought about Roger Ebert’s one star review and followup post. Ebert saw the movie as being about nothing more than violence, and not in a good way. Some of us will get stuck on the part where he compares us enjoying the movie to cats and dogs watching TV,  or on a couple of nonsensical side points that he makes. I’m not sure why he thinks it’s so crucial for an Indonesian movie to point out that it’s taking place in Indonesia (also, I think they did mention Jakarta) or especially why he says “Establishing Rama as a Muslim seems pointless, except as a cheap fakeout in character development.” Would it seem “pointless” for Jackie Chan to have Buddhist artifacts in his home, or early Seagal to have a crucifix on his wall? Of course not.

But forget all that, the important part of Mr. Ebert’s review is “I have no prejudice against violence when I find it in a well-made film. But this film is almost brutally cynical in its approach.” I think that’s legit. Where I disagree with him is that I think it’s “a well-made film.” He’s right that it leans heavier on the action and brutality than almost all movies and lighter on the everything else than most would believe possible. If you weren’t on this movie’s wavelength it would be torturous to watch. (And if he’d seen it with the crowd I did he would’ve given it zero stars and wasted most of the review lamenting society’s barbaric thirst for blood.)

The reason I bring this up though is to point you to the production blog that Evans made. It’s funny because how he describes the movie before filming debunks the idea that he had a “brutally cynical” approach, because he actually thought he was focusing on the very things Ebert thought he was intentionally not focusing on:

“Often I sit to watch a movie and I find myself amazed and in awe on the first viewing, but then when it comes to the 2nd and 3rd time round I’m skipping forward only to see the fight sequences. What I hoped to achieve with Merantau and what I hope to continue with The Raid is to make a film that would work just as well as a drama as it would an action film. Although in all honesty, The Raid is going to be one breezy drama, with our action kicking in around the 15mins mark and barely letting up until the final shot.

When you see a film like Ip Man or Flashpoint what makes the fight sequences so thrilling is not purely the choreography on display but the fact that we as an audience have invested a certain amount of time in the characters and that the fight sequences genuinely count for something. They’re not filler, they have a sense of worth and purpose. That’s what I hope to do with this movie, spend enough time fleshing out the characters and storylines so that when the action comes it’s got a certain weight behind it, with more at stake than just how cool the fight looks.”

I’m not sure if I got that out of my first viewing. But I got a hell of a viewing. I suspect we’ll be talking about this as one of the classics in a few years. If not at least we had this beautiful season to enjoy it. I call it SPRING 2012: REDEMPTION.


This entry was posted on Tuesday, April 3rd, 2012 at 1:10 pm and is filed under Action, Reviews. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can skip to the end and leave a response. Pinging is currently not allowed.

333 Responses to “The Raid”

  1. Still no release date for Germany, neither theatrical or DTV. Sad smiley face with apostrophe as tear.

  2. I stopped giving up hope for theatrically released awesome movies. For me direct to dvd IS cinema, so I just have to wait for this fucker to get a home video release in Sweden. If ever.

  3. It’s finally here and a well written review it was. Glad to hear you also appreciated my favorite thing about it (If the badass sergeant Jaka couldn’t take Indonessian Al Leong down on his own no way the rookie would be able to so BAM he teams up with his estranged brother and they go all Double Dragon on that nigga).

    The diversity of the action is what made this movie pop. From the hero create a makeshift explosion out of pressure. To having him go from a shoot out to a showcase of nightstick and knife action while insisting on the “no man left behind” code as he carries his wounded peer around during said fight; to taking on a machete gang barefisted and making it the heroes business to keep those machetes away from dicing him by any means instead of just having him pick up a machete and hacking away. It was like watching FAST FIVE all over again last spring; nothing felt repetitive or predictable.

    I can’t get with that REDEMPTION bullshit either but I figured it could reference either Andi for keeping his brother from death and allowing him to see his son be born by the end. Or the shitty corrupt lieutenant being forced to finally do the right thing and help take down the bigger dogs since he’s been arrested and not killed. It really is a superflous subtitle though.

  4. I feel bad for our foreign regulars not getting a chance to witness this awesome on the big screen. Also I apologize in advance for putting no SPOILER tag in the previous post. I forgot and that’s bad internet ethics right there.

  5. RE: The American score. I believe that non-Daft Punk guy who also worked on the TRON LEGACY score helped the nu metal guy out. It didn’t surprise me then to hear some pseudo-Carpenter ques just like in TL; it seems to be his niche and a good niche it is. Had me snapping my neck a couple of times with approval.

  6. I mean to type *cues I’m not talking about a line of people here.

  7. I saw it at the New Directors festival at Lincoln Center, which generally shows films with flowers or names of European cities in the title. The professor-looking guy who hosted the showing said it took some doing on his part to convince his colleagues to allow it to be shown, I guess because they are allergic to awesome because awesome is fascist or something. Afterwards, he said he’d never seen an audience there go so crazy. I was like, “Really? That’s sad.” I wonder what kind of dull-ass audiences they normally get. It’s not like they weren’t into it, because they were. They clapped and cheered and all that. But this was a crowd of mostly reporters and Columbia film students, so they weren’t shouting at the screen or fist-pumping or anything. They were mostly watching intently so they could ask questions about what lenses they used and what kind of color correction was involved at the Q&A afterward. (Did I mention that the director was there? Real nice guy, looks like Jared from the Subway commercials. Totally not who you would expect to direct THE RAID: SHOWER OF FISTS.) It was nice to see a movie where people were respectful and didn’t start talking every time there was a dialogue-free moment, but I think I missed out on the bloodthirsty rabble experience.

    However, the bathroom was the most impeccable I’ve ever seen in a movie theater, so I guess it was a decent tradeoff.

    Oh, Vern, as for the last fight, I agree that Mad Dog definitely earned the audience’s respect. I loved that the camera held on his corpse (?) for way longer than it needed to. Everybody was on the edge of their seat, waiting for him to spring up like Michael Myers. And I really believe he would have gotten cheers like a conquering hero if he had. That’s some good villaining right there.

  8. I still loved when he confronts Jaka and my cousin goes to me “this is ridiculous why doesn’t he shoot the guy instead of gesturing” then he goes into his whole “I don’t like using guns it’s like ordering take out” and looks at his fists and goes “THIS is where it’s at” my cousin in a matter of 3 minutes went from “this guy is stupid” to “this fool’a philosophy is fucking amazing”.

  9. *fool’s

    My cousin is not one of the Super Mario Bros.

  10. What impressed me most about THE RAID is the grueling, survivalist tone it sets. It’s almost a horror movie in it’s grim seriousness about the unrelenting threat of serious bodily harm. Action films have become such elaborate, bloodless affairs that something with this level of seriously ratcheting tension is a real wake up call. This thing is absolutely *loaded* with great, effective “oh shit!” moments. Even though you don’t know much about the characters, you’re totally rooting for them because of the level of brutality aimed against them.

    And although the film literally is 90% fighting, I take issue with the idea that its plot is undeveloped. It has a perfect, simple, elegant plot which developes at an exactly perfect pace throughout the film. Nothing groundbreaking, but ultimately extremely satisfying. The major characters don’t have to make a bunch of expository speeches to be “developed” — they’re developed simply through their actions and responses. Mad Dog, for instance, probably only has five lines in the whole thing, but he emerges as a memorable, recognizable, and even complex character. So what if he doesn’t have some oscar clip about how his mother never loved him? If you identify with a character and feel like you understand them on some level, they’re developed. Rama is revealed to be an expecting father and a devout Muslim because it tells you something about what kind of man he is, what he’s risking, and why he’s doing what he’s doing. He’s better developed than the entire cast of any given TRANSFORMERS film, it’s just not all spelled out aloud.

  11. CJ Holden

    In the UK it got a theatrical release May 18th, and it will probably be released three-four months later on DVD-blu ray. So in worst case you can order it from the UK in September, from Amazon or Play (free shipping! love that shop).

  12. ShootMcKay

    As a Norwegian I pretty much always buy Asian films from the UK, as there release usually have a lot more special features, and is released soon. I’m pretty sure the UK release of films Ong Bak, Warrior KIng (aka the protector) and Ip Man is a lot better then the Scandinavian releases. I always look to the UK release. Much cheaper and sooner.

  13. I’m with Mr. S on this. (By the way, I just realized your name is a Calvin & Hobbes reference.) I never felt like the story was lacking or that the fights were just mindless set-pieces without any emotional content. There were enough little vignettes with individual henchmen and heroes that you got a feel for who they were and what they were about. I particularly liked how they set up the guy who escapes from the cops and goes on a machete rampage as a potentially important character, but then SPOILER he gets iced by one of his own colleagues. I felt for that dude. He showed a lot of initiative and heart, and then he gets fucked over by his own people. Not seeing any humanity in something like that betrays a lack of imagination.

    You know, it’s kind of fucked up that critics are always going on about silent movies, even giving a BLACK DYNAMITE style pastiche a dump truck full of Oscars, but then they see some actual, honest-to-god silent cinematical storytelling like this and just consider it empty violence.

  14. One of my favorite action films is the French film The Nest (Nid de Guepes), it’s pretty much an Assault on Precinct 13thrip off, but the first 20 is pure cinematic glory, with almost no dialogue said when we are introduced to the main characters, who they are and their relationship. Is such a great moment when five of the characters are humming (and beat boxing) the Magnificent Seven Theme together. Such a great moment to show their relationship without dialog.

  15. Ghost – I know, I used to live and breathe on the UK Hong Kong Legends label. Terrific stuff they released. I never got the Premier Asia release of ONG BAK, but managed to get ahold of a rental copy of the poor swedish release at a a bargain bin. The movie is nowhere to be seen anymore…

  16. A friend bored my UK Ong Bak DVD and I never got it back. I’m hoping a blu-ray will be released, but it doesn’t seem to happened.

    It seem the Cine-Asia label has some good release with Ip Man and Flashpoint, but something is lost without Bey Logan as he went to the US and Dragon Dynasty. Even thought it seem Bey Logan sometimes does commentary for some of the films. Perhaps Cine-Asia has a deal with Dragon Dynasty or something.

    Also it wouldn’t hurt any of them to release a decent Hard Boiled blu-ray.

  17. Dragon Dynasty feels like the Damien child of Hong Kong Legends

  18. Cine-Asia’s blu-ray of Fist of Legend is awesome. Wondering about ordering the new Jet Li films Emperor And the White Snake, but haven’t heard much about. Also Drunken Master 2 (or THe LEgend of a drunken master) has got a blu-ray on 16th April.

  19. re: Ebert. I don’t have a problem with him feeling put off by the brutal violence or the nihilistic tone. And even though I disagree with his points about movies needed more humanity/character/etc (I don’t see why a movie like this can’t be appreciated as visual art, or as a visceral experience), I still think it’s a fair position to take. What rubbed me the wrong way was really those condescending comments about (what he imagines to be) the audience for a film like this; that it’s only meant to be appreciated on some dumb, animal level. Vern’s review makes a great case for the film’s entertainment value, but I think there’s also plenty to praise in the craft, artistry and imagination of the film. I’m not sure I’d argue that it’s a film of rich themes or messages, but I think there’s very much a deeper level of enjoyment possible for the filmmaking than just mindless enjoyment of of flashing lights.

    I agree with Vern that MERENTAU is the better made movie in many senses. The action is much more elegantly filmed and edited, and the story is a lot more developed and emotionally satisfying (and gives you a much better sense that Iko has screen presence beyond his tremendous athleticism). But THE RAID is definitely the more unique and exciting film, and overcomes some of my trepidation over its needless desaturated color palette and fast-cut, hand-hand action scenes with it’s nonstop momentum and imagination. It’s so insanely fast and brutal, it’s not really like any other action movie I’ve ever seen. So, for me, both movies kinda tie in their overall excellence, and I’m crazy excited for whatever these guys do next.

  20. Forget Bey Logan. Just get the RZA. He’s just as knowledgeable and twice as entertaining.

  21. Dragon Dynasty is like a mix of Hong Kong Legends and the Hong Kong label that released a lot of Shaw Brothers films. There was a time when you actually had to order from Hong Kong to get some films. Also there was time when I ordered films from Korea, they are pretty good with adding English subtitles to their film.

    Anyone seen the Korean version of A Better Tomorrow? Seems to be a little short on action, compared to the John Woo version.

  22. But,seriously. Nobody does commentaries like Bey Logan. I´ve learned a lot about chinese cinematic sensibilities and their culture just by listening to his audio tracks. Very inspiring stuff and information packed. People could learn a thing or two from his work. It really seems like he does some serious work on those commentaries since there is never a dead moment and he always bring up shit you never would have found out otherwise no matter how hard you would have googled. A great guy!

  23. Has Rza done any commentaries? I know he had a present a few releases (or Wu Tang Clan has at least)?

    Any word on when RZA’s martial art film is going to be released. A huge cast, but I don’t thing I have seen a still from the film, and still no trailer more then a year after it finished shooting.

  24. Sometimes Bey Logan drags with him people that have nothing to say about the film. Like on the Full Contact commentary he has for some reason with him Gary Daniels, who of course had nothing to say about the film. I don’t think he had seen the film before.

  25. He did one for The 36th Chamber Of Shaolin with some so-called Asian cinema expert named Andy Klein. Around the time that RZA said he actually went to THE Shaolin Temple to research the film, Klein started realizing that he wasn’t half the expert RZA was. Dude definitely knows his shit.

  26. Ghost – It’s scheduled for a fall release here in the US (sometime in October to be exact). So it shouldn’t be too long before we get to see some promo material.

    I really feel for whoever is put in charge of directing the proposed American remake of THE RAID. It’s like trying to tell some jokes right after Eddie Murphy in his prime has left the stage or something. Good luck.

  27. Mr M.,

    re: critical reception. To be fair, THE RAID has actually being receiving very high marks, especially for an action film. Roger Ebert’s actually one of the few exceptions who didn’t care for it.

  28. I love RZA’s dedication to truly immersing himself into his interest. Like when he wanted to get in touch with the lifestyles of his tribal ancestors and their perspectives in the world he and Ghostface went out to Africa and lived with a tribe for a period of time. It reminds me of the shit I would be doing if I was a multimillionaire. Just like James Cameron attempting his historical solo dive recently or anything Richard Branson has done. Millionaires that spend their millions on educating themselves and having experiences that will benefit culture in general get a thumbs up from me.

  29. Ghost -Oh God! Do you remember the ONCE UPON A TIME IN CHINA commentary where Bey pulled along one of the guys who was in it and he had THE worst attitude coming in doing a commentary.
    He really did not like the movie at all or the genre. You really could tell the guy was a douche.

  30. The critical reception is the reason why people have attacked Ebert’s review. When he released his review it was at 100% at Rotten Tomatoes, so people thought he ruined the perfect score. Even Ebert has quoted positive reviews in his review, so he was very aware of the general positive critical reception. I guess that is probably one of the reason why he was so harsh with the film. He says he gives the star rating according how well it is compared to other films in it’s genre. So as martial arts film 1 star is very harsh for a film that has actually good martial art. But of course he got some point in his review, most of just is just enable to ignore it and enjoy what we see on the screen.

  31. Yeah, brought with him Mark King, one of the guys that usually play mindless white goons, or usually British officials. Logan just want to get some insider information.

  32. …and he got an attitude instead

  33. The new Judge Dredd film has almost the same plot as The Raid. Judge Dredd and the rookie Cassandra Anderson are stuck in a building with hundreds of drug dealers, murders and rapist that want to kill them. Lena Headey is playing the villain. That one has a September release, and we haven’t seen a trailer yet, just rumours about behind the scenes trouble.

  34. I love the feature on the Kill Zone blur-ray where Bey Logan and Donnie Yen talks over some b-roll fight footage, and we get to hear how Donnie Yen shoots the fight scenes and the relationship between director and action director.

  35. In Norway the Raid hasn’t been bought by a distributor. Usually all Scandinavian countries have the same distributor, so it looks like we have to wait a long time until it gets a theatrical release in Scandinavia.

  36. Dan: Yeah, you’re right. Ebert pretty much stands alone on this one. Most critics, to their credit, allowed themselves to get swept up in the obvious filmmaking skill on display, even if constant stabbing is not really their thing. While I still respect Ebert’s writing skills (more than his film critiquing skills, honestly), I hate that he thinks it’s OUR fault that we see value and artistry in the movie, not HIS fault that he can’t.

  37. The new Dredd looks so cheap that it really bothers me. I’m a fan of the 2000 A.D. stories and I love the unique aesthetic and epic of Mega City-One. The new movie has a Mega City that not only looks beyond normal but feels very small and claustrophobic. That shit really doesn’t sit right with me and the uniforms for the Judges look cheap. Say what you want about the shitty Danny Cannon movie but at least it had the proper budget. The costumes and the city had the right look and feel it’s a shame the narrative was so damn sloppy and the movie filled with dumb creative decisions.

  38. Mr. Majestyk – That’s one of the reasons why I can’t stand reading Ebert reviews. They are so damn condescending at times it makes my blood boil. Always boils down to “Remember now that I know what I’m talking about therefore my opinion is the only legit one on this film” I’m just like “nigga please I’m not the one who wrote BEYOND VALLEY OF THE DOLLS’ and keep it moving.

  39. Mr. M,

    Well, it’s almost worse in that, because he didn’t see artistic merit to it, he assumes that the people who enjoyed it didn’t either, and that we all enjoyed it simply because we like looking at fast moving colors. He makes some valid points about the film, which he should have elaborated on instead of insulting an audience he doesn’t understand.

    In general, I think that’s a good rule for criticism: stick to the film itself and don’t worry so much about hypothetical audiences.

  40. I did not know of a new JUDGE DREDD-movie and frankly it scares me even more than I am less excited for THE AVENGERS movie. I love the original comic books but the tone of them is hard to pull off for a movie.

  41. I think even “simplicity” is underselling the masterful story construction. I’d call it “purity.” You’ve got an objective and you explore it fully for 90 minutes. By contrast, look what American action movies call “story.” TRANSFORMERS 3 with McDreamy still explaining the plot 90 minutes into the movie. COWBOYS & ALIENS which invents a thing on Daniel Craig’s arm so a character can explain it later in the movie. Throwing exposition at the wall and giving each character a “thing” as their trait.

    See also my post in the Seagology thread about making action movies for people who hate action. So, what Dan said. If you don’t appreciate the art of martial combat, I guess you’ll hate the best example of it. Also Ebert thinks SEVEN SAMURAI is a kung fu film so he’s not really interested in digging deeper.

    And THE RAID isn’t even nearly my favorite of the genre. I appreciate what it does and how streamlined it is, but I think I still prefer the concepts in TOM-YUM-GOONG’s fights and the whimsy of IRON MONKEY, DRUNKEN MASTER 2, ONCE UPON A TIME IN CHINA, etc. Like when CROUCHING TIGER came out, every American was blown away by this wild new style they discovered. I liked it but it was hardly my favorite Hong Kong movie. Still it’s good THE RAID is getting attention. It’s definitely my favorite Indonesian martial arts film, or at least in the top two for sure.

    So will we get a HUNGER GAMES review and a place to discuss that?

  42. As much as I love THE RAID. TOM-YUM GOONG’s infamous tracking shot still has not been matched in my eyes. Makes Jaa’s latter 2 movies even all the more disappointing for not living up to how much ass that movie kicked. I hope when he comes back it’s with a refocus to push shit along with the setpieces like he did with the first 2 and not try so damn hard to focus on an epic narrative that ends up falling apart anyway since it’s so ill conceived like with ONG BAK 2 & 3.

  43. I can’t even hate on ONG BANK 2 & 3. There’s nothing in either of them that can match the jaw-droppingness of the stairway shot of TOM YUM GOONG, but they’re just so weird and intricate and beautifully shot that I don’t hold them to that standard. I mean, out of nowhere there’s a fucking Deadite and a crazy bird bitch. That’s worth my money right there.

    I think the thing that’s missing is the emotional hook. The characters in ONG BAK 1 and TYG have simple, relatable goals, so there’s some satisfaction when they overcome all obstacles and achieve them (particularly TYG, since in my opinion elephants are more lovable than statue heads). Whereas I really don’t know what the fuck anybody was trying to accomplish in OB2 and 3, so you just watch them for the pretty colors and fancy moves. They’re a couple of glorious messes, though.

  44. Ebert also gave Die Hard two stars, so if The Raid: Useless Subtitle is half as good as Die Hard, I’ll be a happy camper.

  45. I thought the first ONG BAK had awesome action sequences and nothing else. Could have been shot at the North pole, would not made a difference.But part 2 and 3 felt more connected with the Thai culture and was for me more interesting.

  46. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    April 3rd, 2012 at 5:19 pm

    Ghost – MAY THE EIGHTEENTH??!!

    I have to wait until then for one of the only two films I’m genuinely looking forward to months in advance? Guess that explains why I haven’t seen a single advert, trailer or preview for it…

    Plus it’s a “straight” action movie, which is a genre I’m not too fond of, especially now (for reasons Vern makes very clear in his review). Although having said that, I count “Die Hard”, “Total Recall”, “Terminator”, “Terminator 2”, “Enter the Dragon” and a lot of other big-name action movies among my personal faves. Although the main point about those movies

    And that interview with Evans… the man says all the right things, for me. That’s EXACTLY what I think action should do for a movie. Hell, I think his points are almost too obvious to state, except that so many directors seem to miss those same points so badly so often… *cough*MichaelBay*cough*…

    Shoot – agree about Ong Bak. The stuntwork impressed me about it. Not much else did, although I did like the best friend character. Normally in this type of movie the best friend is pretty annoying (heck, he was the only thing I didn’t like about “Blood and Bone”, which was fantastic). But generally speaking, when I find myself admiring a movie for its technical prowess alone, it’s because I’m not enjoying the movie.

    I will check out Merantau though. I hadn’t thought to do so before but it does sound excellent.

  47. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    April 3rd, 2012 at 5:20 pm

    Missed a bit… “the main point about those movies” is that they bring something to the table ASIDE from the action, and make it all work together.

  48. “Missed a bit… “the main point about those movies” is that they bring something to the table ASIDE from the action, and make it all work together.”
    I was just posting about THE RAID somewhere else seems to not be too enthused about the movie on the grounds of perceiving it from the trailer how Ebert calls it, and I tried to argue that when something like THE RAID does action as much justice as it seems to(it’s hard to argue this having not seen the film yet), the other elements don’t matter as much. And an example I tried to use was Die Hard.

    I think we can all agree that Die Hard is kind of overrated as an action movie- NO, WAIT, HEAR ME OUT!- judged SOLELY on its action alone? I mean, what does the film do that’s all that new or inventive? It’s mostly shooting, explosions, and a bit of stunts, right? I would call Hans’ death more a special effect than an action piece, as impressive as it is. Something like POLICE STORY is actually a better ACTION film, approached just from its action. The difference between Jackie Chan and Bruce’s performance is that Jackie Chan actually DID beat the shit out of himself making it, whereas Bruce just looks like it. On the flipside though, Die Hard has John and Hans and Holly and Powell, and Karl and the Johnsons and Ellis and funny dialogue and the story of a guy trying to get back together his wife. All elements of a great MOVIE, but those character aspects kind of don’t have much to do with how the ACTION is delivered, right? Maybe we need to redefine the genre names. Like, Die Hard’s an “Action Movie”, but The Raid is perhaps…an “Action-Action Movie”? I can’t explain what I mean any better.

    Also, I read Ebert’s follow up post, and it did depress me a bit how he seemed to think there’s no room in a filmgoer’s mind for movies with different combinations of x, y and z of character, story and action, that somehow all films HAVE to contain equally strong elements of all three, and can’t be considered good by doing some of 2 and excelling at the other. I also dislike the expression “surpass its genre” as if there’s intrinsically something lacking about specific genres. I mean, he asks “is that all the want?” in that post, and I say: actually, Rog, yeah, SOMETIMES that IS all we want, and there’s nothing wrong with that. It doesn’t mean we won’t want something more other times.

  49. You know, the more I think about it the more I think its not really appropriate to compare THE RAID with ONG BAK or something like that. They’re both action movies which feature martial arts, but that’s really about as far as the connection goes. RAID really struck me with its uniquely intense brutal fury, something completely absent from most of the martial arts films today which are much more about the big showpiece choreography scenes.

    By god, it really has more in common with horror films than your standard modern action film. That scene where they’re hiding in the hallway from the big ass dude with the machete, the scene with him stabbing the wall, the sense of isolation and overwhelming odds and the explicit evocation of gruesome violent death… all elements of horror or thrillers, more than action films. That this one doesn’t really have a huge showpiece moment to match the tracking shot in TOM YUM GOONG… seems immaterial to me. Its not trying to do those. It’s cultivating a different kind of vibe. It wants to be the most *intense* action film you’ve ever seen, not the most impressive. Which is a worthy goal, and a somewhat unusual one these days, and it succeeds spectacularly.

    How Ebert could miss the way the film uses its sudden, shocking violence to ratchet up tensions — I have no idea. But it pulls it off brilliantly. Every step of the film just builds and builds, and it executes payoff after payoff with that tension.

  50. Roger Ebert has somehow morphed into Gene Siskel. I remember I used to think Siskel was the most condescending reviewer around while Ebert was one of the more liberal reviewers. The reason for quite a few of their arguments would be Ebert liking some movie that Siskel thought was childish and dumb. That no longer seems to be thew case, in fact I’m going to go as far as saying I think Ebert is a little burned out. He no longer seems to have much of an open mind, especially in regards to violent movies. He’s dead wrong about The Raid.

    I just saw this movie today and I was completely blown away. This is the type of action movie I’ve been looking for. It was non-stop action without feeling repetitive. The little bits of drama are done in a way that doesn’t bring the movie to a complete halt. For once, I wasn’t really sure who was going to make it through the whole movie. Your basically only really sure that one person will make it because he is the main focus, everyone else is up for grabs. The action is clear and as brutal as they get.

    This even had a great villain in Mad Dog. Mad Dog was so good that it was hard to root against him. In fact, Mad Dog is one of the all time great martial arts henchmen in my mind, right up the with Bolo Yeung.

    I had never heard of Gareth Evans until the movie, but he’s got my attention now. I’m definitely going to watch Merantau ASAP. If it’s even half the movie The Raid is I’ll be happy. I know this guy is in Indonesia and Tony Jaa is in Thailand, but he would be the perfect director for a Tony Jaa film. Tony Jaa’s hasn’t made a classic movie yet, but he’s such a force of nature that the classic scenes in those movies( the walk up the stairs where he beats villain after villain in one continuous shot, or the scene in the same movie where he breaks limb after limb of what seems like a 100 bad guys) that it kind of makes up for how shitty the rest of the movie is. If he could get a director like Evans to do one of his movies I’m guessing it would be an instant martial arts classic. That’s just me dreaming because I miss the days of bad ass brutal martial arts movies, I’m sure it will never happen. The Raid is definitely the next best thing.

  51. the raid will come to europe cinema at may…

  52. the raid realese at europe on may…lucky you cj holen

  53. One other thing, Roger Ebert’s complaint that the movie doesn’t tell you what country it’s in is the dumbest complaint from a man who seems to be trying hard to find reasons to hate the Raid. This is an Indonesian movie initially made for an Indonesian audience. What the hell does it matter what country they’re in. The damn movie takes place entirely in one building. Who the fuck is watching The Raid thinking, “This movie would be great if only I knew what country that building was located in”? That’s got to be the most nit-picky criticism I’ve ever heard.

  54. I’ll have to keep an eye out and see if this plays anywhere near me

  55. Stu, a very interesting distinction. I don’t think there’s any need to separate. Some action films are great because of the action itself and some are great because of the stuff in between, and the action is good too. Some do both but I wouldn’t say it’s necessary.

    The point about Ebert requiring all films deliver X character and Y plot and Z whatever is vital. This is part of what inspired my post about action movies for people who hate action in the Seagalogy thread. We’ve come to a point in cinema where story and character are just interchangable things. Filmmakers say “it’s all about the characters” and it’s an empty cliche. What they mean is they gave Shia Labeouf a thing to care about in Transformers and they explained why Green Lantern is saving the world so you don’t feel bad about enjoying the green fists for nothing.

    I would hope in an age where TREE OF LIFE could be appreciated that audiences, let alone critics, would want movies to do more than just one thing. SOME can have compelling stories and characters, and OTHERS can use the medium for artistic, visceral or otherwise inventive things. I will again suggest SUCKER PUNCH is a masterpiece of non narrative cinema.

    I’m open to discussing DIE HARD though. I would add that DIE HARD is a masterpiece of pacing. You can put DIE HARD on at any point and immediately feel the tension level that’s gotten up to that point. Maybe that’s a cheat because we’ve all seen it so many times so we know everything that’s led up to that point, but man, every time I watch it I think it just gets the pace so right that any time there’s shooting or fighting, it’s the awesomest fight, and a lot of the parts in between are even better (we all remember the “Yippee Kai-yay, Ellis’s sniveling, Hans’ fake political demands, the idiot Johnsons, the twinkies as much as jumping off the roof with the firehose.)

    FACE/OFF could be a movie that has both. Great story and character and some memorable kick ass John Woo action. Jackie Chan movies are more fun riffs on typical genre stories (mistaken identity running from bad guys usually). I would say any genre has more than one approach that makes it successful. How many different styles of comedy are there?

  56. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    April 4th, 2012 at 3:08 am

    “I was just posting about THE RAID somewhere else seems to not be too enthused about the movie on the grounds of perceiving it from the trailer how Ebert calls it, and I tried to argue that when something like THE RAID does action as much justice as it seems to(it’s hard to argue this having not seen the film yet), the other elements don’t matter as much.”

    See, I have to disagree with this, because it makes the implicit assumption that action, story and character work are separate entities. Whereas I think the best action scenes – and I would include pretty much every scene from each of the movies I mentioned above – work to further the story AND our perception of the characters. For example:

    – Do you think that Williams’ fight with Han (“When defeat comes, I won’t notice it. I’ll be too busy looking good!”) does nothing to further our understanding of each character? Do you think Williams’ death isn’t an integral part of the story in that it gives us one hell of a reason to root for Bruce (who is pretty much an asshole in that film anyway) to kick Han’s ass?

    – Do you think Hans Gruber ordering Karl Cold to “shoot the glass”, and McClane’s reaction to it, tell us nothing about McClane, Gruber, or Karl?

    – Do you think Sharon Stone beating the shit out of Arnie in “Total Recall” (which btw is really really wrong and utterly hilarious at the same time, like much of the rest of the film) doesn’t further our understanding of their relationship, the society they live in, or the main story?

    See I could go on, and on, and on… My point is, a movie can be ninety minutes of pure unstoppable action and still create a great story about relatable characters. If the action scenes don’t further our understanding of the characters and the story – and I DON’T mean the “plot” here, “X fights and kills Y” might be an integral part of the plot but tell us nothing interesting about the motivations of the characters involved or the emotional impact it has on them, etc – then they are bad action scenes.

  57. Having not seen the movie my one question is…do they not have helicopters in the world of The Raid or do they give a reason for not using them? I only ask cause usually, when a target is on the upper levels of a multi-floor building, the traditional approach is to surround the building with your regular police or what not, while the SWAT or Special Forces types land on the roof and rappel down. This is especially true if the lower floors are barricaded and/or heavily defended and I assume it would be even more true if the alternative to rappeling down was fighting your way up against an entire fucking 30 floors worth of bad guys…

    Just wondered if they actually explained why they wouldn’t do the tactically sound, logical method of target extraction that police and special forces units have been using for decades, or if if they just went with the idea that the fighting to the roof would be so badass nobody would think about the detail.

  58. D.S. – yeaaaaah, I was thinking the same thing

  59. There’s a reason they need to keep a lower profile than a helicopter attack would allow.

  60. Jareth Cutestory

    April 4th, 2012 at 7:13 am

    I like how well THE RAID staged the “we’re totally fucked” scene, where the antagonists trap the cops and start picking them off (intercut with further meyhem outside the building). The way the shadows on the wall were filmed when an open door cast light on those dudes with guns was really masterful. And I really got a feeling of dread from that scene, which is rare. It wasn’t quite as good as similar scenes in ALIENS, MARTYRS and THE MATRIX, but it was incredibly effective.

    I also like that Rama wasn’t Hollywood-helping his fallen buddy; the fucker was damaged and he was heavy. Rama was basically staggering under the guy’s weight. Little details like that communicate heaps of character.

  61. Paul-Good points, though I guess I wasn’t expressing my thoughts as well as I could have. I’m taking the word of Vern and others that film DOES service characters and story through the action, but I suspect it does so in a not-so direct way that Ebert doesn’t consider to be REAL storytelling. He just sees a lot of action, and considers the lack of expository/quiet scenes to mean there’s no character development at all. But also with what THE RAID is, even without that, I’m still looking forward to it as a supplement of actiony goodness I’ve been deprived of in the usual faire for so long.

  62. Jareth Cutestory

    April 4th, 2012 at 7:23 am

    Ghost: I thought the Korean version of A BETTER TOMORROW was a bit embarassed by the stylistic excesses of the original version, so it tried real hard to behave itself and act nice, hoping no one would pay too much attention to it. It was competent and forgettable.

    Majestyk: Did Gareth Evans share any ideas he was tossing around for the sequel when you saw him?

  63. He did. He said that it would take place out in the world, not in a confined location, and the story would play out over the course of a year or two. As expected, it will deal with the two brothers. He described one action scene they were designing that will be a fight between Rama and four other people inside a moving car, with people getting kicked out of windows and hit by other cars. He said they hadn’t figured out a way to do it without killing anybody yet, but they were working on it.

  64. Jareth Cutestory

    April 4th, 2012 at 7:39 am

    Fortunately Evans cast a subtle, charismatic actor to play Rama’s brother. That will make a world of difference if the film needs to go a bit epic in scope.

    Also I am in favor of fights in/on/under/around moving cars. Even the last UNDERWORLD didn’t ruin the concept for me.

  65. I’m a big fan of people getting thrown off of moving cars and hitting stationary objects, so I hope there’s some of that, too.

    Also, if he could just go ahead and make THE RAID: REITERATION the GONE WITH THE WIND of dudes getting stabbed in the neck two or three times, that would be great.

  66. I have faith that Evans & Iko’s next film will kick ass no matter what, but the fact that it’s a sequel to THE RAID doesn’t particularly excite me. The only element specific to THE RAID that I’d like to see continued is the premise: an apartment complex full of vicious criminals that the heroes have to fight their way through. Otherwise, the story and characters weren’t particularly interesting, and I’m not particularly interesting in seeing their specific adventures. Why not just apply the lightning fast, brutal style of THE RAID to a new story and set of characters?

    My hope for the next one is that Evans combines the best elements of both films: the accomplished visual storytelling of MERANTAU with the no-holds-barred brutality of THE RAID. That could be a potential masterpiece.

  67. Jareth Cutestory

    April 4th, 2012 at 9:08 am

    Dan: You’re kind of hurting my brain here. I get that you weren’t particularly invested in the characters, and that you have no interest in seeing their story continue. Also you really like the setting. But wouldn’t another film in the same setting limit the dramatic possibilities to such an extent that you’re confronted with the same problem all over again: characters you don’t much care for? What room is there in such a specific setting for a “new story”?

    Maybe you can clarify?

  68. Jareth,

    Probably not explaining myself well. My point is, they ought to just make a new movie in a similar style to THE RAID, because I doubt many people really care about the continuing story of these not very interesting brothers.

    The only reason I could see for sequalizing THE RAID would be to revisit the building full o’ bad guys concept. It was a great hook for an action movie, and I bet there’s even more you could do with it.

    Let me be clear: I don’t think the lack of interesting characters in THE RAID was a problem. If anything, they could have cut out even more of the few scenes where people stopped to talk and explain the plot. I’m just kind of mystified when Evans and co. feel like, I don’t know, these characters (who were barely cyphers) are worth returning to.

  69. People being tossed out of moving vehicles was a big reason why I didn’t walk out of LETHAL 4 back in the day. Well that and Jet Li but seriously that chase sequence in the middle with Riggs tossing henchmen off a moving vehicle and then surfing the highway on a table made the freaking movie.

  70. It’s probably more like it’s a marketable title that’s worth returning to.

  71. Caoimhin,

    Except, from the sounds of things, it seems like they were planning this sequel before THE RAID became successful, although I could be misunderstanding that. The film even has a bit of an open-ending, as if they deliberately wanted to set up a sequel for some reason.

  72. Yeah, I don’t get the complaint either. It’s the same characters (who were fairly standard and could easily be placed into other contexts without contradiction) in a new setting, using the same brutal fighting style. That seems like the perfect ALIENS-style expansion of the first film without repeating it. Besides, this was the film they couldn’t find the funding for, forcing them to pare down the production to one location. So in some ways, THE RAID is the prequel to the film they really wanted to make.

  73. Well, maybe I feel the way I do in part because I thought MERANTAU had a stronger (if more typical) story with a a more fleshed out lead character, and I wouldn’t mind seeing more of that in the next Evans/Iko collaboration. And I don’t see that happening with the characters from THE RAID.

  74. Also, I wouldn’t call it a complaint so much as I just don’t understand why they are bothering to make their next film a sequel.

  75. Jareth Cutestory

    April 4th, 2012 at 9:34 am

    Dan: Thanks for the clarification. I liked the characters more than you did, and I’m willing to watch wherever Evans decides to take them, but I’d be lying if I said I’d miss the coolness of the confined setting if they leave it in the past. There is certainly room to flesh out the dynamics within the building.

    I misunderstood your remarks. I thought you were suggesting that they go all [REC]2 in the next one. I couldn’t figure out how you escalate up from kick ass cops. But I’d watch that too.

  76. Jareth Cutestory

    April 4th, 2012 at 9:35 am

    Lying if I said I WOULDN’T miss the confined setting. Fucking double negatives.

  77. Jareth,

    I’m sure whatever they do next will be awesome. It sounds fucking awesome. I’m all for Iko kicking people out of moving vehicles and shit.

  78. Instead of THE RAID 2, it should just be IKO UWAIS IS SILAT COP.

  79. Jareth Cutestory

    April 4th, 2012 at 9:40 am

    Also [SPOILER] there are only three characters left at the end of the film, one of whom is in custody. There’s
    plenty of room for them to add new characters in the sequel:

    – wise-cracking snitch
    – sassy police dispatch operator
    – very angry police chief
    – high strung mayor
    – a corrupt businessman
    – innocent boy who witnessed brutal crime
    – innocent boy’s single mom
    – a monkey that flips the bird in inappropriate contexts
    – a robot

  80. Speaking of the ending, did anyone find it a bit of a let down after the amazing final fight with Mad Dog? It’s like… one bad we don’t care about kills the other bad guy we don’t care about. And then, after setting up this whole premise of “how the fuck will these guys get out of this building full of killers alive?” the brother just lets them out. I was kind of half expecting a final 10 minutes of Iko & bro fighting their way out of the building.

    Not a major complaint, just felt like it ended the film on the wrong note.

  81. I didn’t mind that because there was no way anything could top the Mad Dog fight. Everything after that was just tying up loose ends.

  82. Jareth Cutestory

    April 4th, 2012 at 9:50 am

    I think the ending could have been milked for more tension, but I think the film quite emphatically built up the hopelessness of the situation to such an extent that the manner in which Rama left was the only option. No heroics, no bargaining. I have no problem with the uneasy peace between the brothers.

    I really like how the hostage situation played out. I consider that the climax. And I like the character of the brother way more than you do. I think I’m eager to see a sequel largely because there is a lot of room there for elaboration. I’m thinking kind of a more straightforward INFENRAL AFFAIRS kind of thing. With way more brutal punching.

  83. Well, no doubt they would have had trouble topping the Mad Dog fight, but they could have found a more satisfying final scene.

    In a perfect world, they would have done it like the ANGEL finale. Iko opens up another door to yet another hallway filled with killers. He sighs, cracks his neck, and gets back to work. Cue credits.

  84. Hi Vern, nice to know I’m not the only one who think Merantau, to some extent, is a better movie than The Raid. I’m a member of facebook group of Merantau fans. We call ourselves Perantau (literally meaning the person who does Merantau). In our group we share news, reviews, anything about Merantau and The Raid. Despite our fanboys/fangirls attitude, we might be the first to acknowledge some of The Raid’s flaws. But as we are fully aware of all the difficulties that Evans’ team has gotten through to make this film, we still embrace The Raid wholeheartedly while giving constructive criticism to the team so they can make a better movie next time.

    One of the flaws that only we, native Indonesians, could possibly know, is the dialogue. We all know that Evans wrote the script in English and someone translated it to Indonesian. In some parts, the translation was so awkward, I feel like reading google translate. I know they don’t use google translate, but the dialogue just doesn’t sound and feel right, doesn’t feel natural. The funny thing is the best translated dialogue belongs to the villains, Tama, Mad Dog and Machete Gang No. 1. Those three have the most natural Indonesian dialogue.
    As for Iko, he’s so soft spoken, sometimes he tends to mumble (not because he’s nervous with the acting, it’s just that’s how he sounds in real life). Joe Taslim as Jaka, when he briefs his men in the van, he speaks too fast I couldn’t get what he was saying. This and the weird dialogue make me wish I watch the movie with its English subtitle.
    In term of dramatic performance, veteran actor Ray Sahetapy as Tama shines above the rest. For me his performance in this is as good as Javier Bardem as Anton Chigurh, Heath Ledger as Joker and Kevin Spacey in Usual Suspect.

    Anyway, we couldn’t believe this movie gets so much attention and hype from international audience. Mind you, the hype for this movie among the international action geeks in the webs, is even higher compared to the hype in Indonesia. The movie got its hype in Indonesia very recently just before its release. Hopefully this movie will make silat a popular martial art in Indonesia and worldwide.

    Note : I’m writing this while watching a popular talk show in Indonesia with Iko Uwais and Yayan Ruhian as the guest stars. Iko shows off his skill with a kerambit in his hand just like in the opening of Merantau. And then Yayan shows off his breathing technique which gives him ability to withstand pain, Iko kicking his stomach multiple times and he’s still talking casually to the host as if Iko’s kicks are just mosquito bites.

  85. Man, American talk shows suck. Over here, Crispin Glover does one measly kick and gets banned from Letterman for life.

  86. zanirma – I figured that the dubbing was suspect. I mean they substituted like 3 different sounding words with the word “FUCK”. Still they were effective enough subtitles to get the point across. Even without the subtitles I pretty much knew 1) This lieutenant guy is up to no good and 2) That right hand man must be kin to the hero. It was projected well enough with the physical expressions.

    I like that there was no extra conflict after the kingpin got killed because it was pretty apparent by that point that Andi is now the HNIC. So logically everybody falls back out of respect and lets him escort his bro out alive.

  87. Jareth Cutestory

    April 4th, 2012 at 10:28 am

    Dan: I don’t know. I like your proposed ending, really I do. In fact, the ending to HAYWIRE was similar; it was a punchline to a joke planted in the first third of the film, and I think it worked really well.

    But what I like about THE RAID is the hopelessness it worked so hard to instill, and the physical toll of the operation. If the building itself is a compelling setting, I think it is largely because they invested it with a bleak logic. We get compelling little glimpses into the mechanics of how that building has become a death trap.

    A smart alecky ending that hinged on Rama’s prowess would have deflated the mood and shrugged off the physical damage in short order.

    But your approach can definitely work. The famous ending in CHOCOLATE makes the outside of a building little more than a video game obstacle, and I think it works gloriously.

  88. Jareth,

    Not that I should really be rewriting the ending to movies, by “my” ending I think kind of works in that the whole drive of the film is that this guy is faced with impossible odds, but is so driven and good that he will not stop or compromise, no matter what. So much so that he won’t even take his uniform off to save his life. So ending it with him yet again standing up to impossible odds seems fitting to me.

    Since I’m definitely planning on buying it whenever it comes out on home video, I’ll keep your words in mind next time I see it. I think you’re making a compelling argument for the relatively low key, down beat ending.

  89. Jareth Cutestory

    April 4th, 2012 at 10:56 am

    Off the top of my head I can’t think of another action movie where the determination of the hero, no matter how righteous, wasn’t enough to overcome his obstacle, so seeing Rama reach the limits of his physical heroism, with nothing left in the tank but his refusal to compromise, seemed very novel to me. I’m glad Evans took such an uneasy route.

    Actually, I guess ONG BAK 2 had a similar ending, if not an even more bleak ending. But if I remember correctly, Tony Jaa
    wasn’t playing a hero in that one as much as he was a pawn of fate. Or a pirate or something.

  90. John McClane never gave up on trying to save his wife and her yuppie co-workers & making sure that he got to spend Christmas with the kids. Regardless of being physically exhausted and having bleeding and wounded feet before the movie even came to an end.

  91. ONG BAK 2 guy? I can’t remember the whole point to his quest either but fighting the crazy looking guy and then the crazy flying bird lady definitely did take a shitload of endurance. All for nothing as he ended up screaming out a disappointed “NO!!!!”at the heavens before the credits rolled.

  92. Yeah, but he was fueled by cigarettes and Twinkies. Which really should have been the power-ups in the old PlayStation video game instead of those random medpacks that every game uses.

  93. Action does not HAVE to forward story of characters. It can but it’s an optional aesthetic choice. There’s more than one way a genre can excel.

    That would be like saying “That comedy was hilarious but the jokes really didn’t forward the characters, they just made me laugh really hard.” or “The songs in that musical were great, I’m going to buy the soundtrack, but they didn’t really forward the plot.”

    Action movies are supposed to have great action scenes and part of the fun can be how they come out of nowhere. Those non integral riffs are where some of the true magic of cinema come from.

    One complaint I could have about THE RAID is it do get a bit tiresome looking at run down slums in all the Asian action movies. They totally made it work because it’s a criminal hideout and they used it extensively, but maybe they can build a pretty set for the next one. I know warehouses and such are cheap, controllable locations but they also look like cheap controllable locations for low budget films.

    I mean, like the old indie mentality, use what you’ve got, but I am noticing like BKO they just run wild in a dump because it’s accessible to the crew.

  94. Thanks for saying that, Fred. I always felt that the accepted wisdom that “action must advance story” was just some fake rule made up by a screenwriting teacher who never actually sold a script.

  95. Jareth Cutestory

    April 4th, 2012 at 1:40 pm

    And that goes double for nudity.

  96. Dan — I’m usually disappointed when a director follows up film I really admired with an unnecessary sequel (DISTRICT 10, EASTERN PROMISES: REDEMPTION, 2 TREES OF LIFE) but since the evidence seems pretty strong that the sequel is the film they originally wanted to make anyway, I’m on board for it, especially if they change it up. I think the characters are strong enough that a sequel could expand the scenario laid out in the original nicely, and I loved the ferocious vibe of the original so much I think continuing it in a sequel is a fun idea.

    Jareth — I’d like to add “unnecessary werewolf” to your list.

    zanirma — thanks for sharing. Weird that a cast of Indonesian actors would read dialogue that doesn’t sound right in their own native language. Did no one tell Evans to just let them improvise a little so it would sound normal?

  97. I really hope nobody thinks Haywire was better than The Raid. Haywire was the most disappointing movie of this year while this thing exceeded my expectations. The action alone was a million times more exciting and impactful. The impactfulness was what I was missing from Haywire. A lot of that can be attributed to the horrible sound design in Haywire.

  98. Jareth Cutestory

    April 4th, 2012 at 1:58 pm

    Werewolf … UNnecessary?!? Quite making up impossible things, Subtlety.

  99. Thank you, Mr. M. It’s become even more disheartening that story and character have become hollow cliches. So now the people clinging to it aren’t doing it right. How many times have the writers/producers of TRANSFORMERS 3, GREEN LANTERN, THOR, SUPER 8, and yes, JOHN CARTER, claimed that they’re focusing on story and character? All that means is they gave each character a one dimensional cliche and followed a predetermined story arc. They’d be better off being looser and having more fun with it. But even in a perfect world where every movie is DIE HARD, you can’t have steak every day. There should be more than one mode of filmmaking. And I don’t even mean that steak is better than other meats, but that they’re all equally tasty. (And how many comedies are ruined by plot and story that takes up 90% of screen time and isn’t funny itself?)

    Also, Mad Dog was awesome because he was actually a villain the heroes couldn’t beat. Usually in an action movie the hero is still the strongest. Like even the guys Jackie Chan fights, you know Jackie can take them. Certainly Kareem and Chuck were no match for Bruce Lee, even with long arms and chest hair. Mad Dog was some intense shit and not only did it take two to fight him, didn’t they have to use some weapons or some contingencies to finish the job?

  100. Mad Dog was such a good villain, I actually felt bad for him. He gave all his opponents a fighting chance and behaved with honor and dignity, and then our so-called hero has to sneak up on him and SPOILER stab him with a florescent light tube? Dude deserved better than that.

    But yeah, to your earlier point, every fucking interview with a director, producer, or actor tries to sing that same song about how what really matters is story and character, and then you see the movie and you’re like, “Well, then you failed utterly, didn’t you?” They’re just lying to us and possibly to themselves. Story and character are just something they do because they got two empty slots on their checklist, in between “hero shows abs” and “exploding car does that backward flipping thing they all do now.” They’re just the parts of the movie where you take your piss break.

  101. For those that didn’t see it, Gareth Evans said on Twitter that Yayan will return in the sequel, not as Mad Dog’s twin brother but as a new equally badass character. (I hope he will have an eye patch.)

  102. I would totally buy it if they just told me he didn’t die. Unless they showed a cardiogram of his heart stopping I’d figure he was just resting.

  103. Vern- Well if Sergio Leone can get away with it…

  104. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    April 4th, 2012 at 4:42 pm

    Fred – then please name me an action scene that adds nothing to a film except choreography or pyrotechnics, and yet is considered great?

    Well I got a few such scenes at least. But I doubt anybody considers them “great”.

    The big brawl from “Matrix: Reloaded”? It’s like watching someone else play a videogame. A BAD videogame. What am I supposed to take from this – that multiple agent Smiths now are much less threatening than one agent Smith in the original movie? What was the point of this scene? Nobody dies, nobody changes, there’s no enlightenment, no tension. Nothing’s at stake, Neo can (and eventually does) fly away whenever he wants. This scene has no purpose except to give us a good fight show. And it even fails at that.

    The lightsaber fights from “The Phantom Menace”? Well… all I can say is that at least some of them do advance the plot, and some of the special effects are pretty good. But for all the emotion that gets put into them, it might as well be ballet practice. Where’s the light side / dark side dichotomy that could be seen in the original three movies? Why do the sith and the jedi fight using almost identical techniques, when they don’t train together, and indeed the jedi don’t even realise that the sith exist? Most importantly, what do any of these fights accomplish, other than killing time and one or two minor characters? What’s the point?

    But for the hat-trick, I’m gonna wheel out ol’ faithful. Yep, let’s talk “Batman and Robin”. Specifically let’s talk about the scene where they play ice-hockey with a valuable diamond before flying up to the rooftops on the outside of the villain’s rocket, then using the doors of said rocket as surfboards to slide down the rooftops. And if anybody has any words for this, then please tell me, because I sure as hell haven’t.

    I mean… THIS is what happens when action scenes are put into a film for the purposes of spectacle and nothing else, folks. “Batman and Robin”. Heck, I should “win” this argument for that one alone. But more seriously… you see what I mean about “character” in action scenes?

  105. I dunno guys. I think action DOES forward story and character. What’s meant by action here is not an action scene, per say, but showing a character in motion, doing something in pursuit of a goal or in the resolution of a conflict.

    All cinema is about one thing: Movement. MOVEMENT = MOTIVATION. Without movement (or action if you prefer) a character and, by extension, the story is inert. If motivation is not expressed visually then what’s the point of the film? This is not say that the actor and/or the camera cannot come to rest, momentarily, on a notion but this must come in direct contrast to movement. In other words, that moment of stillness must possess the kinetic potential for movement.

    That’s why silent films work so well. Because motivation is served so elegantly by action. It’s the primary operating language of all cinema. Without movement you’ve nothing but a bunch of actors orating at one another. That’s a stage play, not a film.

    A prime example of this principle lies in the films made by many first year film students. Too many of these short films are wrongly influenced by television. We get endless scenes of talking heads prattling at one another across a desk or a table about other things happening in other places or times. Then we get a shot of a character walking down a hall and opening a door. These films are boring and inert because motivation in story and character are not being served by movement.
    It’s all about action.

  106. And that’s why we love action films, I think. Because they take that universal principle (Movement = Motivation) and ramp it up to eleven. They show characters resolving violent conflict with furious movement. It’s a grand fantasy we all buy into for a few hours that if one can just keep moving fast enough one can resolve all of the conflicts in our lives.

  107. Paul, if the action scene is good you’re not worrying about what it “means” while you’re watching it. You’re what we humans like to call “enjoying it.” And if you’re the type of person who, after watching some crazy fun shit like the Burly Brawl in MATRIX RELOADED, says, “Yes, but what did we LEARN?” well, I feel sorry for you. Like Darryl said, movement is its own reward. You don’t go to the circus and wonder what the trapeze artist’s act says about him as a character.

    P.S. We learned: a. Agent Smith is not dead. b. He has new powers and a new agenda. c. He’s more powerful than Neo now and will be a bigger threat later. What more do you want? Did you honestly expect either one of them to get defeated at the 15-minute mark of a two-part movie?

  108. Paul, I could turn the question around and name you all the “character” action scenes that are worthless because they’re slavish to some preordained rule. I also said there could be personal preference. You prefer only the DIE HARD model and have no patience for the Jackie Chan model. That’s respectable and it’ll help guide your choices. There should still be other types of genre explored.

    Darryll, I appreciate the film theory perspective. It’s certainly conventional wisdom that all film must be visual, otherwise it should be a different medium. I was never quite sold on that though. Again, there are all sorts of things film can be good at, why set a blanket standard?

    I think what film does is deeper than just “visual or not.” Film is able to recreate reality, out of things that are not the least bit real. That’s why we can watch LORD OF THE RINGS and STAR WARS and believe we’re in middle earth or space. It’s also why we can watch a Jim Jarmusch movie and believe we’re watching real people explore drama. That ain’t real either, folks. Those people are standing in carefully choreographed places to be captured and recorded, yet the value is we can be transported into their lives without thinking about it. Clooney can make GOOD NIGHT AND GOOD LUCK and we can feel like we’re in a TV studio decades ago. That wasn’t even real black and white. They had to do that in post because black and white film doesn’t exist anymore. :)

    As for visual storytelling, I think that should be applied to more media than just film and television. Plenty of authors need to stop indulging themselves with pages and pages of “interior” monologues that add “detail” because they “can” in a book, and thus books are always better because they show more. That’s also conventional wisdom I can’t get behind. I think you should still strive to show characters’ behavior in a book, in a play, in a painting, whatever, rather than tell it.

    All this to say there’s a whole spectrum on which art can work.

  109. Vern- Yayan returning in the sequel is the great news. That guy needs to be the go-to villain in as many martial arts movies possible. I’m liking Evans more and more every day. This is a director who seems to understand what action and martial arts movie fans want. Who knew a British director who moved to Indonesia would be the next possibly great action director? Not me, but I’ll be there for his next one and hopefully many more.

  110. Fred, I think what you may be referring to is the suspension of disbelief. The suspension of disbelief is all about viewer immersion. But that immersion is achieved by different methods across different media. In a novel, the author uses interlocking layers of description and context to create the sense of immersion.

    In film, it is movement within the frame that provides the sense of immersion. Without movement even the most exotic tableau from LOTR or SW would be a static, unconvincing experience. Movement creates the motivation, the conflicts and the context we need to suspend our disbelief. Again, it is the primary operating language of cinema. Movement is the one thing that’s absolutely required of film to be an effective story-telling medium. Everything else is gravy.

  111. @ Paul-I have never understood how so many people thought that fight with the multiple agent smiths was any good. It went against all of the logic created in the first movie. Neo could have flown away immediately and given the Smiths the finger and the scene would have been over in about 10 seconds.

    With that said, the Raid gets it right. There are little bits of drama thrown in with the action. The movie is downright brutal in the same way as the 70’s and early 80’s exploitation movies are. Anyone who didn’t like those movies will probably not like this one either. I love those movies and it’s define throwback to those low budget movies with some modern camera work and cinematography thrown in. Even the audience I saw it with was a throwback to the time when you actually were so engulfed in a movie that you could feel the tension. We need more of this and less of shit like The Hunger Games (aka fake Battle Royale).

  112. Chitown -That’s real talk. Part of the reason I hated THE MATRIX RELOADED so much is that it went the ROBOCOP 2 route and basically shitted on the first movies narrative purpose. With Robocop becoming Murphy again and Neo becoming a fucking Superman. It killed the suspense of any fight cause by the end of the first he was already the ultimate badass. The threat needed to be WAY bigger than that and the sequels could never match it.

    Overuse of CGI didn’t help the action scenes either. The first one had more practical action and that’s why it was such a visceral experience. It was somewhat grounded; the juxtaposition was perfect. The sequel became hilarious. I felt sad cause there as no reason why I shouldn’t be cheering a movie with Larry Fishburne wielding a sword and gun simultaneously at all but the Wachowskis found a way to make that happen.

  113. @Broddie-Matrix Reloaded was a total disappointment for me. It felt all wrong. The threat wasn’t really a threat. They explained Neo fighting the agents in the begging with a simple “upgrades” line. According to the logic of the original he was able to see the fact that they were nothing but numbers and characters. What the hell would an upgrade matter to him? I just don’t think the Wachowski’s every really had an idea for any sequels and really just figured the “cool” imagery was all that was needed. I still love the first one, it’s a sci-fi classic in my mind. The other 2 are nothing but disappointing filler.

  114. “@ Paul-I have never understood how so many people thought that fight with the multiple agent smiths was any good. It went against all of the logic created in the first movie. Neo could have flown away immediately and given the Smiths the finger and the scene would have been over in about 10 seconds. ”
    It wasn’t Neo’s goal to escape in that scene though. He was trying to beat Smith then and there. After the first film made him seemingly invincible, it gave him that mindset that there was nothing he couldn’t overcome, so he was fighting it out at first because he thought he could win, but eventually he had to admit he was actually facing an actual challenge for the first time since when he originally fought Smith. If he flew away immediately it wouldn’t have made any narrative sense because there would be no established reason for him to need to, given what was shown of his abilities up till then.

  115. Chitown- The upgrades line only referred to the non-Smith agents, who Neo still trounced pretty quickly. They basically got promoted from “insignificant non-entities to him” to “minor distractions”. Smith wasn’t an upgrade. He’d clearly become a virus.

  116. The networking systems major in me wants to say “Neo was a master hacker. The GOAT in that system. He could decrypt a virus as easily as the virus encrypted itself onto the system.”

    Smith would become an annoyance but eventually he should be toast even before the third movie. Since they made Neo himself a virus as well though they just had them both have each other cancel out. Worst ending ever. The sequels truly don’t exist to me.

  117. I think the Matrix sequels deserve the credit at least for being one of the few blockbusters in the last decade that really felt like they were trying to do something new, to show you something you’ve never seen before, they may have not fully succeeded, but they dammit, they tried…

    they’re not as good as the first movie though, that’s for sure, I’ll never forget seeing The Matrix in theaters when I was 9 years old, I didn’t fully understand the story (I did get the whole “the world is virtual reality” thing though), but my jaw was on the floor during the famous “bullet time” scene, I mean that shit was insane, you had literally NEVER seen something like that before

  118. Daryll, I think I misunderstood you. If I get you correctly now, I think I’d agree that movement is integral to advancing story and character. But movement is also so powerful it can also be used for other purposes.

    And the reason the Burly Brawl is stupid is because it doesn’t look remotely like hundreds of Hugo Weavings. What a cocky special effect blunder. I still enjoy RELOADED though. It doesn’t have a scene of Cypher spending five minutes explaining why he’s so evil and no one can stop him.

  119. @Fred- or a scene of neo and trinity having sex while everyone else parties for 5 minutes to techno music that they can’t really hear.

  120. Fred, I’ll give an example from one of my favorite films that may, at first, seem counter intuitive. In PUNCH-DRUNK LOVE we have Adam Sandler’s character, Barry falling for a girl and then venturing to Hawaii to be with her. It’s a brave, bold gesture for a character that spends a lot of the movie literally running away in fear from various things in his life.

    MY favorite scene involves Barry standing at a pay phone as a parade goes by and hundreds of people are on the sidewalks. Barry is seen holding his ground against this tide of humanity. His lack of motion is in direct contrast to both the other people in the scene and his behavior earlier in the film. His Movements equal his motivations and as his motivations change so do his movements.

    The true genius of this scene is yet to come, though. Barry is trying to track down his girlfriend over the phone. We are privy to both sides of the conversation. At the exact second that we finally hear her voice a little light comes on in the phone booth that makes that little booth an island of joy for Barry.

    It’s as simple as throwing a switch. It’s a classic moment of pure cinematic bliss for me when that light goes on. The emotion that’s conveyed in that tiny movement is why cinema exists.

  121. “There’s a reason they need to keep a lower profile than a helicopter attack would allow.”

    Keeping a lower profile means they don’t want to be detected…when the entire building is already awaiting them doesn’t that sorta take “low profile” out the window? In and of itself a helicopter doesn’t stand out…how often do you hear a chopper and assume an attack is planned? There’s a reason rappeling from above is usually CONSIDERED a lower profile approach than a frontal assault…

  122. Great example, Daryll. You may not agree with me, but I think I’m saying movement is required to show story and character in a movie. You can’t show it without it. However I’m saying you can also do more than just show story and character with movement. I am okay with movies taking a break for awesome spectacle. And there’s got to be room for dialogue somewhere if we’re looking at Tarantino movies (I’d say Kevin Smith movies too but at least I know Tarantino is inarguable.)

    Chitown, oh, you’re right, the sex dance. That was hilariously stupid but it’s not as bad as the Cypher speech because at least I know what they were trying to say with the sex dance. They failed, but it was supposed to show that life in the real world was worth saving. The only point of the Cypher speech was the “surprise” when guess what, someone actually stopped him after all and he was not able to kill Keanu Reeves 70 minutes into the movie.

  123. It’s all awesome spectacle! That’s what I’m saying, also. But I’ll take it further by saying that not only is movement “required” for story and character, it’s the only thing. So even when you’re “taking time out for awesome spectacle” you’re still doing the same thing. It’s just new motivations through movement. Movement is what it’s all about.

    Tarantino has tricked a lot of young filmmakers into thinking dialogue is king but he is as much about movement as any filmmaker. It’s just that his dialogue is so exceptional that it gives the illusion of carrying the day. Watch PULP FICTION again, though, and pay special attention to the way the camera moves around Jack Rabbit Slim’s. Also, try and tell me the Adrenaline Shot scene isn’t an action-packed dance between actors, camera and editor. Granted, it’s not until KILL BILL that Tarantino fully embraces that dance on a grand scale. I’ve heard him say it took a huge leap of faith in his own abilities that got him to that point.

  124. I like the way you think, Darryll.

  125. @Darryll- Your absolutely right about movement. in some of my favorite movies,Goodfellas, Carlito’s Way, Blow, anything by John Carpenter pre-Ghost Of Mars, the one thing that is constant is the smooth movement of the camera. It makes you feel like you have a birds eye view of the action. I do disagree on one point though, the dialogue is as equally important as the way the camera moves. The Godfather and Godfather II don’t have too many flashy camera moves but the dialogue is so great that it doesn’t matter. If the Godfather were made today it would be all flashy camera moves with no substance. Both are what make a great movie. That’s why Kill Bill is a good movie and Pulp Fiction is a great one to me. Kill Bill is style over substance, while Pulp Fiction is has style and substance.

  126. Fred, I prefer the 5 minutes of Cypher’s “oooooh, I’m so evil” over the 15 minutes of Merowinger’s monologue about cake, orgasms and swearing in French.

  127. Eh, philosophical mumbo jumbo always works for me.

  128. Vern, et al.

    Completely unrelated, but have you seen this website:

    Your affinity for obscure VHS culture makes me think you’ll be inclined to like it. I can’t tell you how long I scrolled through the scans of old VHS covers. It’s like a digital museum of the mom & pop video stores I frequented as a kid.

    Anyway, take a look when you get a chance.

  129. Interesting discussion, here is my 2 cents.(or ramblings, sorry, hungover..)

    Regarding “action must advance story”. I sorta agree about that statement, but only in the context that action is often an important event in the story, and should have some sort of consequence for the hero / story. I dislike when somebody gets into a fight in a movie and it really doesn`t mean anything. I`m paying money for watching this, so everything should have some sort of importance. Othterwise the movie is just like some kid rambling about his day at school.

    For example: The fight with multiple agents in Matrix Reloaded was supposed to set up an unstoppable antagonist, leaving the audience wondering “how is Neo gonna stop agent Smith?” It`s kinda weak storytelling, though, setting up to many conflicts and not advancing the story. I`m all for throwing screenwriting guidelines out of the window, but an old rule is that every climax in a story must result in the protagonist gaining or loosing something (otherwise it´s not important and waste of story). In Matrix Reloaded he gains some new knowledge (Agent Smith is alive and multiplying), but it is not of consequence for the mainplot (whatever that was), merely a set-up to Revolutions. He doesn`t really gain or loose anything important to him in the context of the plot. If Neo had an side-kick or something that got killed and infected with smith-virus during the fight, and then endangered the real mission (getting the key-maker), then the fight would have had some sense of consequence AND advanced the story. As in; this fight is frigging important!

    They (Hollywood) say that the movie is character and story, but that doesn`t mean that the character should change as in a drama. Nope, that is kinda missing the point about action-heroes. The point of an actionhero is that he doesn`t change. He´s an oldfashioned man with oldfashioned masculine values who refuses to change. Everybody (his boss, his family and society) is against him, but he refuses to change and saves everybody by sticking to his gun. As in Dirty Harry, Die Hard and Bullit. Or he dies and it`s sad that the world is such a crappy place that real men doesn`t fit in anymore. One could argue that the action-hero is basically a reaction to feminism and the threat against old-fashioned masculine values, solving problems with violence instead of sitting down and discussing them like the goddamn hippies. It´s wish fulfillment for the alienated male in a feminized society.

    But this is where it kinda gets interesting. When Lucas and Spielberg created Indiana Jones, they intended to make a character that didn`t evolve (like James Bond), but Indiana Jones kinda change in Raiders of the lost Arc. He`s introduced as a character who will do anything for obtaining old valuable stuff, but he gains an love interest and is willing to blow up the arc to save her in the end. And God digs that, so he spares him, when he unleashed his glowing stuff on the Nazis. Indiana Jones is a guy who ran out on his 14-year old lover in favor of his career, but chooses her over it in the end. Or something, I`m not really sure about that, but that`s my perspective anyway. My point is that it`s a better movie because of his change. It makes the story seem important, so even if it isn`t nessecary for an actionhero to change, it does make a better story. Cause then the story was an important incident in the characters life and actually meant something for him.

    The same goes for Dirty Harry, I suppose. He`s a cop in the beginning, throws away his badge in the end. I don`t know is Harry actually changes, but he loses his job because of the story, cause society doesn`t have a place for the oldfashioned man who blablabla. Anyway, this whole scorpion-thing is clearly a very important incident in Harry Callaghans life (at least till the sequel..)

    I think the problem with some of the modern actionmovies is that the action doesn`t have consequences. They are more like an obstacle in an videogame, that the heroes have to overcome. Or do you actually know any great actionmovies, where the action doesn`t have any consequences for the story or the protagonist? I still can`t think of any.

    I think, if you boil it all down, it is about a good story. An actionmovie without a good story is simply not a good movie. The problem nowadays is that the screenwriters most important task is to make up awesome set-pieces, since that´s the modern blockbusters main attraction. Cool cgi-effects and big explosions. The story has to support the action-scenes. In old days, the story and the character was the selling point, not the spectacle. (Yes, I know I exaggerate, spectacle has always been a selling point, but if you remember your favorite action-movies, they have strong characters and interesting stories) Die Hard totally proves my point. It might not have over-the-top action, but it is a great story with a great character, so every shot, punch or explosion is exciting. And every goddamn action-scene in that movie either better or worsens the hero´s situation. And that`s what makes it a great actionmovie.

    I`m still struggling with finding a good actionmovie with action that doesn`t have consequences for the protagonist or the plot and I`m coming up blank. Any suggestions?

  130. The bar fight in ON DEADLY GROUND (he doesn’t change the essence of a man)

    Two bar fights in OUT FOR JUSTICE where he doesnt find out where Ritchie is.

    Freeway chase in LETHAL WEAPON 4 where they don’t catch anyone or learn anything. Nt a great movie but a great action scene.

    My favorite SHOOT EM UP has plenty of awesome gunfights that are only about eliminating indiscriminate u nderlings.

    I mean, I guess tenure always about establishing a martial artist’s skills or eluding bad guys so there always something related to the plot. By if it’s contrived to require an action scene then that’s basically inventing a random action scene.

    I guess the issue is when Ebert says there’s no point to the action, he’s saying he doesn’t like the story or characters enough to justify it. And that’s probably what we’re all saying when we don’t care about Hobbits enough to enjoy LOTR battles or Decepticons enough enjoy the clanking robot balls.

  131. Hoorah, my copy of SEAGALOGY RELOADED has arrived!

    Needless to say, the new shit is some awesome shit – bravo, Sir. Bravo.

    It’s funny how, since the Matrix sequels, so many of the “big” Hollywood blockbusters have been such let downs that as time goes by they seem more and more impressive.

    As far as utterly unneccesary sequels go, I like parts of them a lot. They are very well made films – that nobody needed.

    I like the ambition of it, the ideas (not so much the execution), the action (apart from the Burly Man brawl, which others on here have already brilliantly decimated) and the look of it (mostly).

  132. you know I remember reading once a long time ago that the original idea behind the Matrix sequels was to have the second movie be a prequel, showing how the machines took over (basically a feature length version of that Animatrix short) and the third movie be the finale, with Neo returning and defeating the machines

    as much as I love that Animatrix short (and all of the Animatrix shorts) it’s too bad they didn’t go with that idea, it probably would have turned out better

    ya know I’m actually a pretty big fan of the Wachowskis, save for the Matrix sequels I’ve loved everything I’ve seen that they were involved with (V For Vendetta, Speed Racer) and I’m looking forward to Cloud Atlas, I gotta be honest I was little disappointed when that rumor from not too long ago of a 4th Matrix turned out to be false

  133. Griff – Yeah, me, too. I didn’t even know I wanted a Matrix 4 until I read about it. And just as quickly as the news hit, it was gone. Internet hoaxs – I hate ‘em.

    A full length film of that particular Animatrix short would’ve been fantastic. It was the stand out short on the disc, for me (along with the OSIRIS one and DETECTIVE STORY).

    I will always check out anything The Wachowskis work on.

    CLOUD ATLAS sounds amazingly mad, SPEED RACER was wonderful and I dug NINJA ASSASSIN quite a bit, too (which they directed, apart from a few dialogue scenes, apparently).

    V FOR VENDETTA I liked, but it’s impossible to shake the original comic from my mind.

  134. BOUND is their best movie as far as I am concerned. Very cinematic,has great tension and plenty of tits. I love it.

  135. The one big thing, that really ruined the Matrix sequels for my mother, is how Morpheus is treated. In part 1 he is that cool and wise mentor warrior guys and in the sequels we find out that most people consider him a weirdo and he has almost nothing to say.
    That really broke her heart and to be honest, I understand her.

  136. – fred

    You are mentioning great action-scenes, but would you call the movies great action-movies?

    I was gonna mention Point Break as a great actionmovie with action that doesn`t have consequences for the character or the story, but if I remember correctly, the shootout with the naked chick does actually have consequenses for Johnny Utah, even if it`s a dead end in their investigation.

  137. I just don’t get this argument. A good action scene can arise either from caring about the story and the characters (LETHAL WEAPON) or from the technical brilliance of the filmmaking (LETHAL WEAPON 4). Preferably both, but I live in the real world where life is full of compromises and we take what we can get. I’m perfectly comfortable treating an action scene as a little mini-movie in itself, distinct from and unreliant upon the larger context of the film it’s in.

    Think of a movie as an album, with individual scenes as songs. Some albums flow well all the way through, but none of the songs really work outside of that context. (Example: THE WALL.) But some albums have one or two great songs on them and the rest is just filler. (Example: Any album by a one-hit wonder) Does the fact that the album as a whole is not that great mean that those songs suck? Or is it possible to admire those songs as entities unto themselves without the lesser songs surrounding them dragging them down? That’s how I feel about action scenes. It’s nice if they fulfill some larger function in the story, but in the end, all they really have to do is be exciting, by any means necessary. More now than ever, when the art of the action scene is at its lowest ebb in history, I appreciate them wherever I find them, even in a shitty movie.

  138. Jareth Cutestory

    April 5th, 2012 at 8:31 am

    That “rave” scene in MATRIX RELOADED is an example of the visual storytelling we all like to applaud; the scene is a neat exemplification of the Oracle’s later line that Neo has “already made his choice,” which he demonstrates at the end of the movie when he chooses a door that the other Neos didn’t choose.

    The films are muddled, obviously, but that scene in particular makes perfect sense. Of course, it was also entirely implicit in the original film, as is everything in the sequels, so whether or not it was necessary is open to debate.

    But I also like the “burly brawl” a lot too, especially the little touches of humor. Yes, the CGI is too obvious, but I think it’s a very well staged fight with real stakes. I think it’s way better staged than the final fight in the rain in the third movie.

    Also, if I understood the sequels properly, the point is that Neo and Multiple Smiths cancel each other out. They’re interdependant. I’m not even sure the sequels have a real villain. It’s more about negotiation and co-existence.

    And wait, are we actually dissing Joey Pants’ big evil speech in the first MATRIX? The scene where he killed half the cast? And Ms. Blonde’s “not like this” moment? I think that scene is classic “we’re fucked” spectacle. I think it’s even better than the “game over, man!” scene in ALIENS.

  139. Jareth Cutestory

    April 5th, 2012 at 8:41 am

    Majestyk: Following your theory, would you consider BORN TO FIGHT one of those rare films that achieve both sympathy for the characters and technical brilliance? I’m inclined to say yes, but I wonder if it is actually characters I’m watching or just very cleverly manipulated human repositories of sympathy. I mean, how can you not cheer for One Leg Guy? Yet I’m reluctant to describe him as a character.

  140. Jareth: That is a great example of technical brilliance married with emotional investment. Granted, that emotional investment was achieved through the most blatant usage of what George Lucas would call “kitten-strangling,” but hey, whatever works. If you gotta machine-gun a few grannies to angry up the blood for some righteous violence, then by god you machine-gun them grannies.

  141. Guys, just a heads up to say that Jim Brown’s psuedo-Parker film,THE SLAMS, is now out on DVD:


    Had no idea it was available but here it is, and the screenshots from THIS review:


    Show it’s a pretty gorgeous print.

  142. What about Action Movies where attempts at plot and characterisation not provided by the action are to the film’s detriment?
    Like in BANGKOK KNOCKOUT, which when not delivering awesome fights and stunts is giving us godawful attempts at melodrama and character with the insipid love triangle, that annoying as fuck comic relief character, and a plot twist betrayal that made not a whole lot of sense? Were we not all kind of in agreement that next time we watched it, we’d be skipping straight to the action scenes?

  143. Jareth Cutestory

    April 5th, 2012 at 11:10 am

    Stu: I can think of a few movies that conform to your description, and I know they can be difficult to watch. Still, I tend to prefer that particular kind of mess to those action films that feel compelled to preach some heavy-handed platidude amid all the meyhem, like Roland Emmerich’s stuff. The only way I was able to enjoy THE DAY AFTER TOMORROW was to turn off the volume and make up my own dialogue.

  144. What’s interesting about those Thai movies is they’re throwing in plot and character scenes to try to be more like American movies, where “it’s all about the characters and story, man.” Those filler scenes are interesting to me in that context and they don’t take too long. I think BKO was an attempt to just do nonstop action and tell the whole story through the fights in that building, but I think THE RAID did it more successfully.

    DNA, with the exception of LETHAL 4, I was mentioning great action movies. OUT FOR JUSTICE? ON DEADLY GROUND? MOTHERFUCKIN’ SHOOT EM UP??? But yes, it’s hard to think of an example of the alternative without going to Asia, because Hollywood movies are all trying to conform to the same model

  145. @Fred- On Deadly Ground and Shoot Em’ Up are great action movies? Since you like The Raid I’m not even going to debate that statement.

  146. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    April 5th, 2012 at 3:00 pm

    Fred – “I prefer the Die Hard model to the Jackie Chan model”? What??!!! If I picked any one action star whose action scenes, even in his bad films, ALWAYS demonstrates what I’ve said, it would be Jackie Chan.

    I think you’ve either completely misunderstood what I mean by “character” if you think Jackie Chan doesn’t display it in his fights, or you have never tried to analyze or seriously watch a Jackie Chan fight. He goes through the gamut: comedy, anger, contempt, desperation, etc, all without saying a word. All done with the way he moves and the expressions on his face. Heck, I can think of at least one JC film where he showed LOVE in his fighting technique. And that’s something you don’t see every day.

    Majestyk – lemme take your points one by one.

    “We learned: a. Agent Smith is not dead. b. He has new powers and a new agenda. c. He’s more powerful than Neo now and will be a bigger threat later. What more do you want? Did you honestly expect either one of them to get defeated at the 15-minute mark of a two-part movie?”

    Zero for three, Majestyk. Because:

    a) We knew that the moment Smith first appeared onscreen.
    b) Both of these things are established before the fight scene even starts.
    c) Did we? Because it looked to me like Neo could hold off about three hundred badly-animated versions of him, then literally fly off into the sunset without taking any damage at all. Smith poses ZERO threat to Neo. Smith shot Neo five times in the heart at the end of the first film. THAT’S a threat! This, on the other hand, is “Let’s have a decent-looking fight scene for the trailers”.

    Did I expect either one of them to get defeated? – NO, and that’s precisely the point. This entire scene is POINTLESS. We know full well that neither character is going to die, there’s no reason established for them to be fighting there in the first place, there is no reason for the scene to be in the film except for the pure spectacle. And for the record, by that standard, it STILL sucks. Why does the Matrix look worse in the sequel than it does in the original film? How’s that even possible?

    Neither Smith nor Neo ever displays any emotion during the fight. It’s pure choreography and editing. There’s no anger, no rivalry, no contempt, nothing. This fight tells us nothing about these characters. And it doesn’t advance the story. Nothing is at stake. There’s no threat to either character. The only reason it has to exist is as pure spectacle, and it even fails at that.

  147. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    April 5th, 2012 at 3:16 pm

    Chitown – “On Deadly Ground” has one genuinely great action scene, the bar fight (one of Seagal’s best). And it absolutely demonstrates what I’m saying. Everything that happens during that scene is both caused by, and demonstrates, the characters of its protagonists.

    And to Fred – THAT is what makes it great! Do you think that scene would be better if everyone in the bar suddenly started pounding at each other for no reason? Of course not! There’s setup, tension, buildup, escalation. It has an ebb and a flow, not only in the buildup to the action, but within the action itself. It’s unexpected – the one asshole Seagal doesn’t actually fight (although does give a bleeding nose to) is the one who started the whole thing off in the first place.

    Plus, you know, Seagal breaks three arms and swings a guy who looks about ninety years old over his arm by the testicles. Which always helps.

  148. Paul, I’m glad to hear your positive comments on Jackie Chan. For some reason I thought you didn’t like his work. Maybe I’m misremembering or misinterpreting another thread.

    I think I am now convinced that character really is an integral part of the great action scenes. SHOOT EM UP has a really incosequential plot but every awesome gunfight is all about the character Clive Owen displays, and we get almost no exposition on him. Likewise the ridiculous DRUNKEN MASTER II, RUMBLE IN THE BRONX, OPERATION CONDOR, WHO AM I, and others. Perhaps I relish the Hong Kong style BECAUSE they are emphasizing character over intricate plot. Likewise the fights in Seagal movies.

    I still love BKO and think it works. As for MATRIX RELOADED, I think it’s fine to play with toys like 100 Smiths even though it’s not “necessary.” why does Neo stay and fight? Because it’s awesome. Flying away would be less awesome. Save for sloppy cgi, it is a decent fight against 100 opponents.

    I still think “because it’s awesome” should be the number one reason for anything to happen in a movie. Again, it’s like the comedies that cut out npjokes to focus on the plot. Missing the point.

    To bring it back to THE RAID, Evans constructed a pure scenario that’s actually akin to Bruce Lee’s original vision for GAME OF DEATH. it’s not my favorite msrtial arts film but I like it and I’ll watch it again and again.

  149. I still think the Burly Brawl is cool and serves a few story points in a visually interesting way. I know it looks fake in the more ambitious shots, but I don’t mind because they were trying to do something that was impossible for the technology of the time, so it has an overreaching charm, like stop-motion effects, that is rare in CGI. And I even justify it looking like computer graphics because, hey, it’s happening in the Matrix so it IS computer graphics. I like to think that what Smith is doing is overloading the system, causing the graphics to pixilate more than normal.

  150. I am late to the discussion on this one, but I saw it last Friday and I really enjoyed it. It is the most savage martial arts film I have ever seen. TR:R is a survival film like THE TOWERING INFERNO or THE POSEIDON ADVENTURE, but in TR:R they are not trying to survive a burning building or capsized cruise liner, they are trying to survive waves of murderous baddies and thugs in a 30 story project controlled by a vicious drug lord. It is a film that is stunningly brutal, relentlessly violent, and extremely entertaining. The lean streamlined storytelling of the narrative exists only in service of the action and tone of the film, and I mean that as a complement. There are no wasted scenes or moments in TR:R, no down time for character development, just moments for you the viewer and our heroes to catch a breath before another stunning action sequence begins. I know some people have complained about the simplicity of the bare bones narrative/plot, and lack of character development, but I would argue those choices only enhance the film. The stakes are set in the first few minutes of the film and from there the action unfolds and builds upon itself. The almost nonstop action combined with little to no character moments or exposition create an almost exhausting pace that perfectly suits the narrative/plot.

  151. nabroleon dynamite

    April 5th, 2012 at 4:29 pm

    I hate everyone who has seen this movie!!

    Lucky fucks!!

  152. I declare Fred the winner of this Burly Brawl tangent argument. “Because it’s awesome” is all the reason the scene would need if it wasn’t so clear that the scene is all about the two characters testing each other and also if the whole fight wasn’t worth it just as set up for the joke of the different Smiths casually walking away in different directions once it’s all over. I’m sure we’ll go over this again when I get around to watching the Matrix blu-rays and re-assessing them.

    Now back to THE RAID, already in progress.

  153. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    April 5th, 2012 at 8:08 pm

    Yeesh. “Testing each other”. Ok then. Can’t argue with that. Don’t see why they’d want to either, but hey… it’s “The Matrix: Reloaded”, so… yeah.

    Can’t argue with a subjective definition of “awesome” either. If that’s what floats your boat, chaps, then I don’t know what else to say. What amazes me is that I seem to have done it again. In my haste to put my counterpoint across, I’ve got people defending “The Matrix: Reloaded”. I FUCKING HATE THAT FILM. And I don’t think I’m exactly alone in that opinion. How the FUCK did that happen?

    Can we at least agree on Jackie Chan, while there’s still hair in my head that I haven’t pulled out?

    Vern: I would love to comment on “The Raid”. I’d at least like a chance to see it before summer. But I live in Britain, so… ain’t gonna happen. I don’t ever bother with “preview” sites as I don’t want to get spoiled, so this was one of the two films coming out this year that I’d 1) heard of in advance, and 2) was genuinely excited for.

    Or in summary, fuck y’all! You bloody Americans and your early film screenings!

  154. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    April 5th, 2012 at 8:09 pm

    …And damn it, I even repeated Nabroleon’s joke without realising it.

  155. This discussion has led me to an epiphany. In debating whether action NEEDS to service character and/or story, and racking my brain to think of good examples where it doesn’t, I have figured out a subgenre of action. It is, wait for it…

    Action Character Study

    See dramas have these things called character studies where it’s not so much about a plot or an objective, but you just watch these characters explore their feelings and motivations for the whole movie. And they’re captivating.

    So an action character study would be when the plot isn’t so important, but the character is so awesome we just want to see how they handle things. I truly love SHOOT ‘EM UP and I think the plot is totally inconsequential. It’s fine, but I really don’t care if some politician cloned babies or whatever. I just want to see how creatively Clive Owen shoots his way out of trouble. And that is a beautiful, beautiful character study. Also fits my “because it’s awesome” definition, because that is essentially the reason for all the action scenes, but character study deepens its awesome purpose. And the Jackie Chan/Steven Seagal movies.

    So if you guys agree, we have now identified two modes of action cinema:

    1. Story based plot driven where action scenes have vital purpose (if successful)
    2. Action character study.

    Now there must be even more artistic ways to twist the genre in equally legitimate ways. I think we’re on a roll here, so what else can action movies do if only creative filmmakers would dare to try?

    Oh, THE RAID may be both 1. and 2. Discuss.

  156. – Fred

    I wouldn`t exactly call the movies you mention great, but I kept pickin my brain to find a great actionfilm, where the actionscenes aren`t important to the characters or story. I guess that`s all I`m asking for, actionscenes that feels really important in the context of the movie. That why I consider movies like Die Hard, The Road Warrior, Hardboiled, Terminator etc great actionmovies. It`s not just great action, but real suspense on behalf of the protagonists. I guess most modern action movies try that and fail, since we the audience know that a sequel is right around the corner and the events in the movie we are watching aren`t that important after all. The protagonist is gonna survive, the franchise depends on it. I think that is Matrix Reloaded`s biggest flaw; it isn`t that exciting or important, cause we know the characters will return in the next movie. And since the movies biggest dramatic question is if Trinity is gonna survive, it`s not that exciting.

    Anyway, regarding twisting the genre.. I would love to see a multiplot like Short Cuts done within the actiongenre. A bunch of characters with their own stories, running around and shooting and blowing shit up. Or maybe a typical actionmovie, where the actionhero is the antagonist. I`ve been toying with the idea about a couple of henchmen in a criminal superorganisation, who are fighting some renegade cop/spy/former navy turned cook. I guess it would be some sort of slashermovie with the actionhero as some sort of unstoppable killing machine, killing the protagonists friends and colleagues, chasing them in cars, infiltrating their secret lair and going all postal on them.

  157. How much character development and plot does an action film need?

    Die Hard doesn’t have that much. The first 20 minutes sets up the unresolved relationship with McClane and his wife, and over the film we get a few scenes between McClane and Powell, that develop both of the characters. Even Holly who doesn’t do much is effectively developed in the first 20 minutes. The villains get developed through their action and what decisions they make and that’s enough. I have calculated that around the 40% of the running time is for action/suspense, while a lot of other action films has like under 30%. Taken has a ration of only 20%.

    Cliffhanger also a film that haven’t much character development through the film but has enough in the first 20 minutes. The opening sequence sets up what a great climber Gabe is, but it also set up the conflicts and unresolved relationship between the characters. Gabe has climbed since and haven’t forgiven himself and gave up on rescuing people, so he run away, creating an unresolved relationship with his girlfriend, and his friend Hall hasn’t forgiven Gabe, and is a mirror of his inner conflict. So Gabe got an inner conflict, and he has unresolved relationship and conflicts with his girlfriend and friend that he has to overcome, while staying alive and rescue his friend from a bunch of psychopathic thief.

    Of course Cliffhanger has a lot less action then The Raid, and there is more development between the villains, and it has a few moments between Gabe and Jessie, but mostly it’s non-stop action/suspense. The film is always moving, and showing that you only need the first 20 minutes to establish the characters, the conflict between them and their unresolved relationship. If you do all the character stuff in the first 20 minutes, you can develop the rest through the action and suspense. There is no heart to heart speak between Gabe and Hal, but through action Hal forgives Gabe, and Gabe forgives himself and can stay with his girlfriend.

  158. I think I really took to The Raid: Redemption is because of years of films that made my local multiplex that severely disappointed me in the action department. Take SHOOT ‘EM UP. I know Fred liked it but I did not get the type of action I was hoping for. For one, there is nothing cinematical about people running around a corner and get shot by guns nailed to the wall. The only interesting part was the sex gunfight. The rest of the scenes was just him running and shooting a gun in very uninteresting ways.

    I am also not convinced that the film didn’t properly set up character motivation.

  159. Sternshein — I’m sorry, but I take exception to the idea that SHOOT EM UP is just “running and shooting in very uninteresting ways.” For gods sake, he fires five shots without the benefit of a gun of any kind. That’s going the extra mile, in my opinion.

  160. DNA, my question is what makes you want to keep watching TERMINATO and DIE HARD over and overs again. Once you know the story it can’t be for the suspense. That’s why I’m thinking character could be its own thing, because you’ll revisit a great character over and over even when you know what happens. But honestly, I rewtatch Jackie Chan to see his awesome moves again.

    Sternshein I’ve probably over talked SHOOT EM UP and it’s just not everybody’s cup of tea, but the appeal is the creativity of gunfights. Every shot he fires has an objective, even setting up things for later in the scene. It’s more comedic than John Woo but in the sa e vein.

  161. By the way, if anyone’s still in the mood to be outraged, Ebert did a response to the criticism of his RAID review…


    Where he acknowledges that it’s as successful an action film as everyone else already said, but still somehow manages to claim that it’s rubbish. As if being a hugely successful action extravaganza was some kind of easy feat and not something to be impressed by. He seems to think the fact that it’s completely committed to it’s goal of badass non-stop action is some kind of failure of imagination, or even a cheap marketing gimmick. Which is just baffling, to be perfectly frank.

  162. For a professional he sure does seem to act no better than most internet movie board posters with his stubbornness. The fact that he’s so passionate about his opinion is admirable but the fact that he’s so adamant to prove his view as the only legitimate one really is not.

    I mean it’s like just because he doesn’t see something in a film it must not exist in the film. Despite the fact that other people do see the things that his eyes are blind to; they must be wrong. It’s why I gave up on ever reading his reviews many moons ago. The condescending tone they carry sometimes makes me want to punch my monitor even when I do agree with his opinion on a film.

  163. I like Ebert.

    He’s like a lot of us: solid on most issues, and then on one issue, completely deranged. That observation is true of you, me, and most every other person. Tell me you have no issues on which you go completely outside the beltway and I will show you someone in denial or someone not self-aware.

    For Ebert, the issue he goes bonkers on is nihilistic violence on screen. A lot of us can appreciate that on an aesthetic level, and separate what is on screen from real life. Just because the violence is on the movie screen doesn’t mean it is endorsing such behavior in real life. It’s fantasy.

    Ebert on the other hand does not process nihilistic violence in this fashion. That’s just the way he is. We can psychoanalyze him all we want because of this, but me, I just accept him, with this flaw, at face value, and keep it in mind when reading his reviews. He is still a brilliant man and brilliant movie reviewer.

  164. – fred

    Hmm, good question. I actually don`t rewatch the movies I think that are great as much as I rewatch movies that I think are merely great entertainment. I have proberbly rewatched Matrix Reloaded a lot more than The Matrix, which is one of my favorite actionmovies. Even if MR is not a great actionmovie (imo) it has so many brilliant actionscenes, that I never get tired of watching it. I guess a great actionmovie is a movie that has a tremendous impact on me the first time I watch it.

    But yes, when I actually rewatch my favorite movies, I get excited about the filmatism or storytelling or editing or whatever. It doesn`t matter if I already know the story, I still get a kick out of of it if it`s told well.
    For example, I was rewatching Close Encounters of the 3 Kind yesterday, for the first time in many years. What a fucking mindblowing great movie. And then some new scene, which I haven`t seen before, explains that the military are working on a plan to scare the population away from the devils tower, and the movie is completely ruined for me. It`s just really bad storytelling. I remember the first time I watched it and didn`t know if the area was actually polluted. I remember it as a very tense and exciting sequence. I know that EVERYBODY knows that aliens are landing in the end, so it shouldn`t make a difference if Spielberg included a new scene with scientists spoiling the “suprise” in his directors cut, but it fucking does, cause it is in the end the storytelling that makes me excited about certain movies.

    Anyway, I think that a great story is a story told well. Maybe the story in Die Hard isn`t that original, but it is told extremely well. The action might not be as spectacular as in Matrix Reloaded, but it`s a billion times more excilirating, cause we are invested in the story and care for the characters. The action matters!

    So..eh.. what the fuck was the question anyway.. Oh yeah, why I keep rewatching Terminator and Die Hard? It`s the storytelling, not the characters or the story.

  165. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    April 6th, 2012 at 3:40 pm

    Again with the question: why are we separating action and story / character development again? My whole point – and every great action movie I can think of pretty much proves this – is that great action tells a story; great action is born of, and reflects, the characters involved.

    I think there are almost two debates going on here: what proportion of a film SHOULD be action (which seems to me a moot point, “Drive” was great for me but some people hated it because of the lack of action, so it’s all very subjective) and what should be the purpose of an action scene. Or, as Fred’s put it, an action movie.

    For me it all comes down to the WHY. (This is kinda the point I was trying to make about the Big Brawl scene. I just don’t see why it’s there.) Obviously I want action scenes to be technically good, with clear positioning and camerawork (both of which seem to be unfortunately rare nowadays). But I also want them to mean something. An action scene is no different from any other scene in that respect. It should have its own place, its own purpose. It should fit into the structure, rhythm and tone of the film it’s in. This is why I don’t like the vampire ninjas from Blade 2 or the Big Brawl. Although both have some bad CGI, that’s not a dealbreaker for me. If the scene doesn’t advance the film at all, though, well that IS a dealbreaker.

  166. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    April 6th, 2012 at 3:41 pm

    “So..eh.. what the fuck was the question anyway.. Oh yeah, why I keep rewatching Terminator and Die Hard? It`s the storytelling, not the characters or the story.”

    …Or DNA could just basically summarize everything I’ve just said into one succinct sentence.

  167. . Don’t get me wrong now even though I don’t like the burly brawl I enjoy exploitation for the fuck of it as much as the next man. Not just with action but other movie genres. I used to watch RAD almost everyday just for the BMX stunt showcases for example.

    Doesn’t mean I don’t enjoy when there’s a little something more though. That’s the cherry on top. With DIE HARD and THE TERMINATOR it’s like dna said it’s definitely the execution (storytelling). How everything pretty much combines into the perfect storm.

    It’s Cameron and McTiernan’s direction that is inspiring Biehn and Willis to really be lead guys that resonate pretty much for all time. 2 different types of “desperate and trained everymen” who we could all relate to in some way even though we’re not all cops or men from dystopian futures.

    The way the writers wrote the roles for the villains and how the directors and their respective actors for those roles (Schwarzenegger, Rickman) took that writing to new heights with their stylistic choices is what made them pop.

    A mute imposing brick of a man on one hand and a suave looking eloquent criminal mastermind on the other. Giving them dialogue and character moments that cement them in pop culture history. They created new archetypes for movie villains. Took them beyond mustache twirling and made them legitimate threats for different reasons.

    Couple all that with the structure of some of the set pieces (roof explosion, truck driving terminator) some cool leading ladies (Bedelia, Hamilton) that do more than just damsel in distress shit whether physically or with their brains. Awesome supporting players (Whoever the hell played Ellis, Karl, Carl Winslow, Paul Gleason, William Artherton, Lance Henriksen, Earl Boen, Paul Winnfield, Bill Paxton and Shao Kahn as punkers etc.) with memorable moments of their own. It just all combined into a well told story that could hook you from many different angles. Those are the kickass ingredients to a fantastic meal. There’s something in there for everybody to enjoy. It’s why they’re still considered universal classics and thankfully for now will never ever be remade.

  168. “Again with the question: why are we separating action and story / character development again?”
    Well I brought it up I think because it feels that action never gets it’s due as an element of movies(a visual medium where you can ONLY do action like that), not even in its own GENRE.

  169. @dna- All the movies you mention I consider great action movies. Every one of them I’ve watched multiple times.

    @ Paul- Not everyone rewatches a great action movie only to see the great action scenes. That’s definitely one of the reasons, but not the only one. I rewatch Robocop because of the story and drama as well as the set pieces. I love the story of Murphy trying to regain his humanity. Of course it’s also a great revenge story with some really good action scenes which is what makes it a classic. Personally, I think the majority of Jackie Chan movies suck, except for the Police Story series. I like my martial arts movies brutal and straight to the point. His movies are goofy with some spectacular stunts. It’s all a matter of taste. That doesn’t mean I haven’t rewatched some of the spectacular fights in his movies. Another example would be Tom-Yum-Goong(aka The Protector), the fights in that movie are some of the best I’ve seen in any martial arts movie since Jackie Chan was in his prime. It’s like a combination of Jackie Chan’s acrobatics and Bruce Lee’s ferocious fighting style. Yet, you couldn’t pay me enough to ever watch that movie from start to finish again. I could rewatch several scenes from that movie over and over again until the day I die. The problem is the rest of the movie stinks badly. I could never bring myself to call it a full blown martial arts classic. I agree with what Broddie said about enjoying exploitation for the fuck of it. That’s what Tom Yum Goong is for me and why I can only watch the fights in it. A great action movie has much more going for it then a few great fights.

  170. It’s still early but I think The Raid is going in the great action movie category for me .

  171. Paul, it’s like when someone points out a flaw in BLADE II and then everyone else chimes in with something they had a problem with and suddenly the whole thread is “BLADE II kinda sucks now!”

    Actually the most pointless fight in MATRIX RELOADED is the guy who fights Neo just because be says you don’t get to know someone unless you fight them. Then they stop fighting. No point at all to the story or character (they both learned they could block each other.) but a decent fight scene. I don’t mind it being there.

  172. DNA, that is a fascinating perspective on your personal tastes. And that’s what I love about discussing movies. In the end, everyone likes what they like, but you can use the coversation to learn so much about what makes your friends tick.

  173. I can dig that “awesome = no need for it to be there, apart from it to be awesome”.

    My problem with the burly brawl in MATRIX REL’D is that it goes from “awesome” to “how much longer is this going to go on for?” – For me, anyway.

    I think, as an action film fan I’ve always, for good or bad, differentiated between a good action film period and a film that had good action scenes in it.

    I’ve lost count of how many times someone’s said to me or I’ve said to them, yeah, it wasn’t very good but the action was great, or it was poor but the ending was fantastic. (More common when it comes to martial arts movies.)

  174. Hart Bochnet, Broddie. Hart Bochner.

  175. Duly noted Fred. Looking him up I realized 2 things

    1) He played another douche in another one of my favorite movies BATMAN: MASK OF THE PHANTASM

    2) I really need to see APARTMENT ZERO A.S.A.P.

  176. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    April 8th, 2012 at 12:08 pm

    Fred – as the “someone” involved, I sympathise. As I’ve repeatedly said, I quite enjoyed Blade 2, despite what I think are its flaws. When I point out those flaws, though, it immediately polarises the discussion. Everybody chimes in and I have to justify my point, which makes it seem as though I hated the movie. And I really didn’t, I just thought it could’ve been a lot better.

    And as regards the tea-house fight in “Reloaded”, I preferred that fight scene in terms of spectacle – there was less of the whole “watching somebody else play a videogame” aspect to it – although some of the wire-work was pretty obvious. For personal preference I don’t like any of the kung-fu in the Matrix movies, really – all the best action scenes of the original involved guns, for me. I think there’s a reason why “bullet time” caught on as much as it did. (Although on the flip side of that argument, there was one pretty awesome fingertip throat stab in the original film that made me wince.)

  177. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    April 8th, 2012 at 12:14 pm

    Stu, re: “Well I brought it up I think because it feels that action never gets it’s due as an element of movies(a visual medium where you can ONLY do action like that), not even in its own GENRE.”

    Fair enough. Certainly this is true from critics like Ebert, who as somebody pointed out seems to have a personal “blind spot” on this particular point. But in a way I think it signals a trend in recognising that action scenes have to follow the same rules as other scenes in a film, which to me is a very good thing. You wouldn’t make a movie where the “quiet” scenes were shot in so much shakycam that you couldn’t tell what’s going on, so why would you make a movie where an “action” scene is totally generic, has no purpose, or isn’t good storytelling within the context of the film?

    Sure, there are other skills and techniques involved when shooting good action; and I want them to be utilised, and the filmmakers to be commented when they are. But that doesn’t mean I’ll excuse an action scene that may be technically impressive but adds nothing to the film as a whole.

  178. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    April 8th, 2012 at 12:16 pm

    Erm COMMENDED. Not commented. Sorry.

  179. – fred

    Cheers, but I`m actually curious about what makes an actionmovie great. After hundreds of years of cinema and thousands of actionmovies, but very few actual classics, but it´s funny to speculate on what actually makes an actionmovie work. Especially if you want to write one.

    The Raid sounds great and I`m crossing my fingers for a genuine holy fuck experience in the cinema. And those are few and far between. If I remember correctly, it`s only Die Hard, Road Warrior, Hardboiled, Speed, Matrix, Death Proof and Rambo 4, which has been overwhelming cinematic experiences for me. (I could include other movies with action-scenes as Heat, Star Wars, Starship Troopers etc, but I define actionmovies as movies where the action is the point of the movie).
    I actually find that the most effective actionscenes are often in non-actionmovies, maybe because they have more weight when presented in the context of a “serious” plot. For example I Saw The Devil, as the most recent example of a great actionmovie that is not actually an actionmovie.

    I would still love to watch a great actionmovie, that was pure action from start to finish. I`ve started a similar discussion with horrors being shite if they don`t have a serious subtext, but I shut my mouth as soon as somebody mentioned Evil Dead 2.

  180. karlos?? Hey, that’s my real name… only with a C not a K (i’m portuguese and all that).

  181. the interesting thing about THE RAID is that already by conception is an international movie. Filmed in Indonesia but with a crew made of asians from more then one country, and the director is welsh.

    You know, we shoudn’t be suprised the movie is gaining such a great appeal all over the world. It’s international from the get go.

    I think this is a lesson that Holywood is yet to learn: that movies are not exclusive to just one country, but seen all over the world. specially hoylwood products. Holywood really needs to learn that their movies are not just americans, but worldwide.

  182. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    April 10th, 2012 at 4:14 pm

    I didn’t realise the director was a countryman of mine until a few days ago. Although with hindsight, “Gareth Evans” doesn’t sound like a typical Indonesian name, does it? And we STILL don’t get to see the movie until a month and a half after you damn Americans. Argh!

  183. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    April 10th, 2012 at 4:18 pm

    DNA – the sad thing is, of all those action movies I listed as favorites of mine above (“Die Hard”, “Enter the Dragon”, “Total Recall”, etc…) I didn’t see a single one of them in the cinema. And despite the whipping it’s taken in recent years, I still like seeing films in the cinema. (I did see “Speed” there, which was still pretty awesome.) I did, however, see “Bad Boys 2”. …Those of you who’ve read my colourful thoughts on that particular cinematic abhomination should have some idea of how much this pains me.

  184. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul, i watched BAD BOYS 2 for free on a DVD of a friend… and i still wanted my money back. Your pain for suffering from Bad Boys 2, i know exactly what you mean. And it’s not just the fact the move is bad, but that it’s also boring like hell!! Mickey Bay must be the only filmmaker who mannages to make a movie that is both super-fast edited and boring at the same time. What an anti-talent he is!

  185. asimovlives – You’re forgetting Jonathan Liebesman. Battle L.A. has to take the crown for the most boring non-stop action movie. In comparison Michael Bay is a master of the art of action.

    Actually, to be honest, I enjoy the hell out of most of Bay’s pre-Transformers films. But I’m silly like that.

  186. Mike A., yes, BATTLE LA is also a good example of that, boring super-fast edited movies. Jonathan Liebesman seems like he’s the newest Lil Bay. Lil Bays are hackfuck filmmakers whose mission in life are to be the next mihcael bay. because one is not bad enough as it is! and wonder of wonders, Liebesman was hired by Bay himself to helm a new reboot of the TEENAGE MUTANT NINJA TURTLES movie, which Bay will produce inder his Platinium Dunes production house. Oh joy!

    Bay seems to like to play the patron of the new generation of holywood hacks. he’s the one that gave jobs to such hackshits like Marcus Niespel (the idiot who mannaged to complete fuck up a Viking Vs Indians movie and a Conan movie), all those diots that made those horror remakes he produce, including the pathetic NIGHTMARE ON ELM STREET directed by a guy called Simon Bayer (More Bay Then Bay?). And now this assclown Jonathan Liebesman, whch is the second time he slaves his ass to Bay, for he directed the second remake of his THE TEXAS CHAINSAW DEBACLE saga.

    And least we forget, when he made the utterly shitty and worst movie ever made in the history of mankind called ARMAGEDDON (very appropriate name for what kind of biblical epic shit it is), one of the screenwirters was this then young dude called JJ Abrams, who grew into becoming one of the worst hacks in holywod, rivaling Bay himself for the hack crown. JJ Abrams, the JarJar Binks and bane of Star Trek.

    Truly, Mickey Bay is the patron saint of hacks.

  187. Mickey Bay has made some enjoyable good movies, with the exception of Bad Boys, Bad Boys II, The Rock, Armagedon, Pearl Harbor, The Island, Transformers, Transformers Revenge Of The Fallen, Transformers Dark Of The Moon, and all the movies produced by the Platinium Dunes.

  188. asimovlives – yeah, I agree that Michael Bay is pretty much the Antichrist of movies, let’s just say if I could send a Terminator back in time to “terminate” anybody Bay would be pretty high on the list (along with the Twilight author)

    did you know that one of the first things he directed was a Playboy video?

  189. I don’t know. I still think that UNDERWORLD is worse than everything that Michael Bay has ever done. I mean…seriously. It’s a movie with Bill Nighy, Kate Beckinsale in a tight catsuit and it’s about a war between vampires and werewolves! And still it’s also one of the three only movies, that I ever turned off halfways, because I just couldn’t take them anymore. (The other two are MOULIN ROUGE [Luhrman] and SUPERBAD, with an honorable mention of 300, which is the only movie ever , that made me turn off the sound, because I just couldn’t stand anybody in this movie say one more word.)

  190. CJ might have a point there. Bay’s films at least are spectacular failures of both art and humanity, which is enough to provoke *some* reaction. UNDERWORLD is like watching paint dry. Blue paint. and a lot of it.

  191. I’ve drastically cut down on my intake of intelligence-insulting franchise product in the past few years, but sometimes an otherwise tasteful and discriminating human being just wants to see the biggest, stupidest thing he can find, and Bay pretty much always delivers. Nearly, every movie he’s made has been bigger and stupider than the one before it (although I must concede that TF3 was bigger but less stupid than TF2, making it the best and therefore the worst in the series), putting each one high in the running for biggest, stupidest movie ever. I’m not a fan in spite of his faults; I’m a fan because of them. I can get bland competence anywhere, but full-on dadaist insanity is hard to come by.

  192. Gentlemen, I have just seen BATTLESHIP.

    Sufice it to say, I’ve taken one for the team.

    PLEASE keep well away from this.

    I am too upset to type anything else.

  193. yeah, I wouldn’t touch that movie with a 39 and a half foot pole! (ba doo doo la doo doo ba doo doo la doo doo)

    but do you care to share any details?

  194. Griff – It wabts desperately to be TRANSFORMERS meets ARMAGEDDON, but it reminded me in many ways of PRINCE OF PERSIA more than anything, in so far as there’s a shit ton of money up on the screen, and a shit ton of stuff going on, but it’s utterly joyless and empty.

    I was hoping for some Neeson action to partly rescue it but alas, he pops up here and there, for maybe 10 minutes in total, doing nothing except give little speeches and look distainful.

    His accent was really all over the place in this, too. Even more than usual. Clearly, this was a paycheck and 2 months holiday in Hawaii for him. Can’t say I blame him.

    The cast generally was piss poor. We got Rihanna (who wasn’t that bad); the dude who was John Carter (out of his depth); some guy who was meant to be funny but just came off as bad tempered; and that kid who looks like the Matt Damon puppet from TEAM AMERICA.

    There was also a guy who was a real amputee in there. I only this mention this because every now and then the camera would pan lovingly up his artifical legs and linger, like it was saying, HEY, THIS GUY REALLY LOST HIS LEGS! HE’S LIKE A LIVING SPECIAL EFFECT! It really did come off as kind of creepy.

    The story is non-descript, but that goes without saying. It just relentlessly moves along, blowing shit up, which should be enjoyable on one level, but there’s no sense of danger, no humor or fun in any of it.

    The only real plus I can see is that Peter Berg is a good director, there’s no denying that. The film looks good and is shot well. There’s very little in the way of shakycam or any of that.

  195. what’s the deal with the aliens though?

  196. Speaking of movies somebody’s going to get fired over…

    I mean, it must have seemed like a sure thing on paper, right? You got a universally known property (board games are considered properties now, right?) with special effects and plot elements imported from one of the most successful franchises of our day, plus some well-known marquee faces and a pop starlet in her first role to bring in the youngsters and the “ethnics.” But once you put all that together you realize, uh oh, we forgot to come up with a single reason for this to exist. Pity they had to spend $200,000,000 to figure out what everyone else on earth knew the instant they heard somebody was making a fucking BATTLESHIP movie. Sometimes you can play it so safe that you cancel yourself out entirely.

  197. hopefully it will flop and put an end to all these board game adaptions (seriously, Clue was enough, at least that was a board game with an actual plot and characters), but of course it probably wont

  198. THE RAID is expanding this week, so maybe some of you will get a chance to see it.

  199. Knox Harrington

    April 12th, 2012 at 2:34 am

    I decided to take a chance and enter THE RAID TALKBACK. Been avoiding it because I haven’t seen The Raid yet and probably won’t be able to for quite a while, but since this seems to be the new Potpourri I just couldn’t resist.

    This may sound mean, but I really wish that BATTLESHIP bombs as well. Two massive flops in one summer would surely make a few Hollywood execs wake the fuck up and start paying attention to what they’re doing wrong. I would feel kinda bad for Taylor Kitsch, though. Maybe Oliver Stone’s Savages will be the hit he needs (good trailer).

    Peter Berg can be a damn good director. I really liked Very Bad Things and Welcome to the Jungle, loved Friday Night Lights and liked The Kingdom as well. Hancock was a bit all over the place (a good example of how not to structure a film). I hope he goes back to smaller action movies and leaves the $200 million budgets to guys like Bay and Cameron.

  200. CJ Holden, the thing is that underneath all the nonsnse, UNDERWORLD still tries to do some worldbuilding, and present a paralel of social class division by using vampire as the decadent social elite and the werewolves as the revolting plebs. That’s far more though put to it then the entire combined career of michael Bay. for that alone UNDERWORLD alone wins over all of Bay’s career.

  201. “but sometimes an otherwise tasteful and discriminating human being just wants to see the biggest, stupidest thing he can find”

    Never had such urges. I can always find some smart but bombastic big movie that can deliever on both, thus winning on both sides. This is why Christopher Nolan exists. No need for Mickey Bayass’ crap at all.

    Bay is so bad, he’s like those who flush a toilet so badly they left all the crap still floating for the next user to see and vomit his guts out. Michael Bay’s movies remind me of the “worst toilet in scotland” scen in TRAINSPOTTING. You need to be pretty fucked up to take a dive to it.

  202. Come on, if we start judging movies by what they try to be and do, but not by what they are, we would consider every movie to be great. Shit, THE EXPENDABLES would be the greatest action movie in the world! But it’s not. So…sorry. I can’t give UNDERWORLD any credit. (Except maybe, for looking more expensive than it really way.)

  203. Knox Harrington

    April 12th, 2012 at 3:16 am

    I did like the one with Rhona Mitra.

  204. Let’s not waste our time talking about whoever this “Mickey Bayass” chump is. We got a new action classic to discuss here. Just so more of you can see it I made a few calls and Obama agreed to expand the movie to the following theaters this week:

    fine arts cinema and cafe hato rey pr 4/12
    tikahtnu stadium 16 & imax anchorage ak 4/12
    valley cinema wasilla ak 4/12
    Theater Name City State Date
    amstar stadium 14 alabaster al 4/13
    wynnsong 16 auburn al 4/13
    edge 12 birmingham al 4/13
    lee branch 15 birmingham al 4/13
    summit 16 birmingham al 4/13
    jubilee square 12 daphne al 4/13
    regency square 12 florence al 4/13
    pinnacle 14 at craft farms gulf shores al 4/13
    hollywood 18 huntsville al 4/13
    valley bend 18 huntsville al 4/13
    stadium 18 mobile al 4/13
    fiesta square 16 fayetteville ar 4/13
    wharf 15 orange beach al 4/13
    hollywood 16 tuscaloosa al 4/13
    vestavia hills 10 vestavia hills al 4/13
    tinseltown 14 benton ar 4/13
    fiesta square 16 fayetteville ar 4/13
    razorback cinema 12 fayetteville ar 4/13
    malco cinema 12 ft smith ar 4/13
    hollywood 15 jonesboro ar 4/13
    colonel glenn 18 little rock ar 4/13
    rogers towne cinema rogers ar 4/13
    harkins gateway pavillions 18 avondale az 4/13
    chandler fashion center 20 chandler az 4/13
    santan village 16 gilbert az 4/13
    arrowhead 14 glendale az 4/13
    aMC mesa grande 24 mesa az 4/13
    cinemark 16 mesa az 4/13
    superstition springs 25 mesa az 4/13
    century oro valley marketplace oro valley az 4/13
    aMC ahwatukee 24 phoenix az 4/13
    aMC desert ridge 18 phoenix az 4/13
    christown 14 phoenix ca 4/13
    deer valley aMC 30 phoenix az 4/13
    esplanade 14 theatre phoenix az 4/13
    harkins north valley 16 phoenix az 4/13
    harkins shea 14 scottsdale az 4/13
    cinemark 10 sierra vista az 4/13
    arizona mills 24 tempe v 4/13
    tempe marketplace 16 tempe az 4/13
    century 20 park place tucson az 4/13
    century el con 20 tucson az 4/13
    foothill 15 cinemas tucson az 4/13
    tucson spectrum 18 tucson az 4/13
    harkins yuma palms 14 theatre yuma az 4/13
    apple valley 12 apple valley ca 4/13
    santa anita 16 arcadia ca 4/13
    maya bakersfield 16 bakersfield ca 4/13
    brentwood 14 brentwood ca 4/13
    chino hills 18 chino hills ca 4/13
    rancho del rey 16 chula vista ca 4/13
    aMC puente hills 20 city of industry ca 4/13
    claremont 5 claremont ca 4/13
    edwards corona crossings stadium 18 corona ca 4/13
    amc covina 30 covina ca 4/13
    aMC cupertino 16 cupertino ca 4/13
    century 20 daly city daly city ca 4/13
    davis varsity theatre davis ca 4/13
    hacienda crossing 20 & imax dublin ca 4/13
    parkway plaza 18 el cajon ca 4/13
    ua emerybay 10 emeryville ca 4/13
    broadway cinemas eureka ca 4/13
    fairfield stadium 16 fairfield ca 4/13
    century folsom 14 folsom ca 4/13
    foothill towne center 22 foothill ranch ca 4/13
    fresno stadium 21 fresno ca 4/13
    fullerton 20 fullerton ca 4/13
    century at hayward hayward ca 4/13
    edw la verne twelve cinema la verne ca 4/13
    cinemark 22 lancaster ca 4/13
    vine cinema livermore ca 4/13
    mainplace stadium cinema merced ca 4/13
    century 20 great mall milpitas ca 4/13
    osio plaza theatre monterey ca 4/13
    moreno valley 16 moreno valley ca 4/13
    cal oaks 17 murrieta ca 4/13
    island 7 cinemas newport beach ca 4/13
    aMC norwalk 20 norwalk ca 4/13
    oceanside 16 oceanside ca 4/13
    eDW ontario palace 22 cine ontario ca 4/13
    ontario mills 30 ontario ca 4/13
    redding 14 redding ca 4/13
    century 20 downtown redwood city ca 4/13
    aMC tyler 16 riverside ca 4/13
    blue oaks town center 16 rocklin ca 4/13
    rohnert park stadium 16 rohnert park ca 4/13
    century 14 sacramento ca 4/13
    laguna village 12 sacramento ca 4/13
    natomas marketplace 16 sacramento ca 4/13
    tower angelika film ctr. 3 sacramento ca 4/13
    century 14 northridge mall salinas ca 4/13
    maya salinas cinemas salinas ca 4/13
    carmel mountain 12 san diego ca 4/13
    eDW mira mesa stadium 18 san diego ca 4/13
    town square 14 san diego ca 4/13
    east ridge mall 15 san jose ca 4/13
    century 16 bayfair mall san leandro ca 4/13
    san marcos stadium 18 san marcos ca 4/13
    paseo nuevo 4 santa barbara ca 4/13
    aMC mercado 20 santa clara ca 4/13
    nickelodeon four santa cruz ca 4/13
    cinelux scotts valley cinema scotts valley ca 4/13
    city center 16 cinema stockton ca 4/13
    thousand oaks 14 thousand oaks ca 4/13
    aMC tustin 14 tustin ca 4/13
    century 25 union city ca 4/13
    sequoia mall 12 visalia ca 4/13
    west covina 18 west covina ca 4/13
    century 16 boulder co 4/13
    mayan three denver co 4/13
    northfield 18 denver co 4/13
    aMC highlands ranch 24 highlands ranch co 4/13
    metro-Lux 14 loveland ca 4/13
    westminster promenade 24 westminster co 4/13
    berlin 12 berlin ct 4/13
    enfield 12 enfield ct 4/13
    bow tie palace 17 hartford ct 4/13
    buckland hills 18 manchester ct 4/13
    connecticut post 14 milford ct 4/13
    criterion cinemas new haven ct 4/13
    north haven 12 north haven ct 4/13
    plainville 20 plainville ct 4/13
    southington 12 southington ct 4/13
    peoples plaza cinema 17 newark de 4/13
    brandywine town center 16 wilmington de 4/13
    aMC altamonte mall 18 altamonte springs fl 4/13
    aMC aventura 24 aventura fl 4/13
    destin commons 14 destin fl 4/13
    aMC merchants crossing 16 ft myers fl 4/13
    bell tower 20 ft myers fl 4/13
    ua santa rosa 10 (mary e) ft walton beach fl 4/13
    gainesville 14 gainesville fl 4/13
    cobb grand 18 hialeah fl 4/13
    hialeah 14 hialeah fl 4/13
    aMC regency square 24 jacksonville fl 4/13
    beach blvd cinema 12 jacksonville fl 4/13
    jupiter stadium 18 jupiter fl 4/13
    aMC downtown disney 24 lake buena vista fl 4/13
    lakeside village 18 lakeland fl 4/13
    rave avenue 16 melbourne fl 4/13
    cinebistro at dolphin mall miami fl 4/13
    miami lakes 17 miami lakes fl 4/13
    hollywood 20 naples fl 4/13
    woodland square 20 theatres oldsmar fl 4/13
    aMC orange park 24 orange park fl 4/13
    universal cineplex cinema orlando fl 4/13
    downtown at the gardens 16 cinemas palm beach gardens fl 4/13
    grand pier park 16 panama city beach fl 4/13
    carmike 10 panama city fl 4/13
    pompano theatre 18 pompano beach fl 4/13
    port st. lucie 14 port st. lucie fl 4/13
    hollywood 20 sarasota fl 4/13
    aMC sunset place 24 south miami fl 4/13
    muvico baywalk 20 st. petersburg fl 4/13
    aMC tallahassee mall 20 tallahassee fl 4/13
    governor’s square 12 tallahassee fl 4/13
    aMC veterans 24 tampa fl 4/13
    centro ybor 20 tampa fl 4/13
    channelside 9 & imax tampa fl 4/13
    starlight 20 tampa fl 4/13
    aMC indian river 24 vero beach fl 4/13
    grove 16 & cinebistro wesley chapel fl 4/13
    parisian 20 west palm beach fl 4/13
    winter park village 20 winter park fl 4/13
    wynnsong 16 albany ga 4/13
    aMC mansell crossing 14 alpharetta ga 4/13
    beechwood stadium 11 athens ga 4/13
    movies atlanta 14 atlanta ga 4/13
    augusta exchange 20 cinema augusta ga 4/13
    austell cinema 22 austell ga 4/13
    mall of georgia 20 & imax buford ga 4/13
    galleria 15 cinemas centerville ga 4/13
    hollywood 24 @ north 185 chamblee ga 4/13
    carmike 15 columbus ga 4/13
    crossroads 16 conyers ga 4/13
    arbor place mall 18 douglasville ga 4/13
    evans 12 cinemas evans (Augusta) ga 4/13
    hollywood 15 cinemas gainesville ga 4/13
    griffin stadium cinemas griffin ga 4/13
    town center 16 kennesaw ga 4/13
    aMC colonial 18 lawrenceville ga 4/13
    amstar cinema 16 macon ga 4/13
    park 12 cobb cinemas marietta ga 4/13
    mcDonough great escape 16 mcDonough ga 4/13
    aMC southlake 24 morrow ga 4/13
    georgian stadium 14 newnan ga 4/13
    pooler stadium 12 pooler ga 4/13
    wynnsong 11 savannah ga 4/13
    snellville oaks 14 snellville ga 4/13
    valdosta stadium 16 valdosta ga 4/13
    cherokee 16 cinemas woodstock ga 4/13
    maui mall kahului hi 4/13
    wynnsong 12 cedar rapids ia 4/13
    davenport 53rd 18 davenport ia 4/13
    fleur 4 theatres des moines ia 4/13
    southridge 12 des moines ia 4/13
    mindframe theater dubuque ia 4/13
    sycamore cinema 12 iowa city ia 4/13
    wynnsong 16 johnston ia 4/13
    southern hills 12 sioux city ia 4/13
    crossroads 12 theatres waterloo ia 4/13
    century 20 jordan creek west des moines ia 4/13
    marcus addison 20 addison il 4/13
    galaxy 14 cine bloomington il 4/13
    showplace 12 theatre bolingbrook il 4/13
    university place 8 carbondale il 4/13
    chicago heights 14 chicago heights il 4/13
    showplace 16 crystal lake il 4/13
    elgin fox theatre 14 elgin il 4/13
    gurnee cinema 20 gurnee il 4/13
    lake zurich 12 lake zurich il 4/13
    city park 20 imax lincolnshire il 4/13
    yorktown cinema 18 lombard il 4/13
    northbrook court 14 northbrook il 4/13
    marcus orland park 10 orland park il 4/13
    rave peoria 18 peoria il 4/13
    round lake beach stadium 18 round lake beach il 4/13
    streets of woodfield 20 schaumburg il 4/13
    village crossing 18 skokie il 4/13
    aMC south barrington 30 south barrington il 4/13
    parkway pointe 8 springfield il 4/13
    cantera 17 warrenville il 4/13
    shiloh crossing 18 avon in 4/13
    showplace 11 bloomington in 4/13
    village park cinema 17 carmel in 4/13
    keystone art cinema indianapolis in 4/13
    metropolis 18 plainfield in 4/13
    showplace 12 schererville in 4/13
    liberty hall lawrence ks 4/13
    aMC town center 20 leawood ks 4/13
    seth childs cinema 12 manhattan ks 4/13
    aMC studio 30 olathe ks 4/13
    hollywood 14 topeka ks 4/13
    13th ave premiere palace wichita ks 4/13
    great escape 12 bowling green ky 4/13
    fayetteville mall 16 lexington ky 4/13
    hamburg pavilion 16 lexington ky 4/13
    tinseltown 19 louisville ky 4/13
    aMC newport on the levee 20 newport ky 4/13
    malco cinema 16 owensboro ky 4/13
    baton rouge 16 baton rouge la 4/13
    perkins rowe 16 baton rouge la 4/13
    elmwood palace 20 harahan la 4/13
    aMC palace westbank 16 harvey la 4/13
    grand 16 lafayette la 4/13
    tinseltown usa 17 shreveport la 4/13
    tinseltown usa 17 west monroe la 4/13
    loews liberty tree mall 20 danvers ma 4/13
    framingham 16 framingham ma 4/13
    methuen 20 at the loop methuen ma 4/13
    north dartmouth twelve north dartmouth ma 4/13
    nickelodeon 5 north falmouth ma 4/13
    showcase 14 cinemas revere ma 4/13
    aMC cinema 12 tyngsboro ma 4/13
    west springfield 15 west springfield ma 4/13
    showcase worc.North 18 worcester ma 4/13
    annapolis mall 11 annapolis md 4/13
    harbor east cinema baltimore md 4/13
    white marsh 16 baltimore md 4/13
    bethesda row cinema bethesda md 4/13
    rio 14 theatre gaithersburg md 4/13
    royale stadium 14 hyattsville md 4/13
    majestic stadium 20 silver spring md 4/13
    star great lakes x-Ing 25 auburn hills mi 4/13
    lakeview square cinema 9 battle creek mi 4/13
    birchwood 10 cinemas fort gratiot mi 4/13
    cityplace 14 kalamazoo mi 4/13
    aMC livonia 20 livonia mi 4/13
    delft 5 theatres marquette mi 4/13
    fashion mall cinemas 10 saginaw mi 4/13
    aMC forum 30 sterling heights mi 4/13
    grand traverse cinema 9 traverse city mi 4/13
    uA commerce township 14 walled lake mi 4/13
    ann arbor 20 ypsilanti mi 4/13
    brooklyn center 20 brooklyn center mn 4/13
    eagan cinema 16 eagan mn 4/13
    aMC eden prairie mall 18 eden prairie mn 4/13
    lakeville 18 cinemas lakeville mn 4/13
    wynnsong 15 moundsview mn 4/13
    oakdale 20 oakdale mn 4/13
    willow creek cinemas 8 plymouth mn 4/13
    rochester galaxy 14 cine rochester mn 4/13
    rosedale 14 roseville mn 4/13
    stadium 14 columbia mo 4/13
    cinemark palace 14 kansas city mo 4/13
    glenwood at red bridge kansas city mo 4/13
    o´Fallon 15 cine o´Fallon mo 4/13
    campbell 16 cine springfield mo 4/13
    college station 14 springfield mo 4/13
    st charles 18 st charles mo 4/13
    chesterfield 14 st louis mo 4/13
    tivoli theatre 3 st louis mo 4/13
    aMC west olive 16 st louis(creve cr) mo 4/13
    grand 18 d´Iberville ms 4/13
    grand 14 hattiesburg ms 4/13
    grandview 17 madison ms 4/13
    tinseltown usa 17 pearl ms 4/13
    uA northpark 14 ridgeland ms 4/13
    desoto cinema 16 southaven ms 4/13
    malco tupelo commons 10 tupelo ms 4/13
    wynnsong 10 billings mt 4/13
    stadium 14 cinema kalispell mt 4/13
    carmike 10 missoula mt 4/13
    carmike 10 asheville nc 4/13
    carolina 14 asheville nc 4/13
    crossroads 20 cary nc 4/13
    aMC carolina pavilion 22 charlotte nc 4/13
    manor twin charlotte nc 4/13
    stone crest 22 @ pipers glenn charlotte nc 4/13
    aMC concord mills concord nc 4/13
    southpoint cinema 16 durham nc 4/13
    market fair 15 fayetteville nc 4/13
    millstone 14 fayetteville nc 4/13
    premiere 12 goldsboro nc 4/13
    carmike 18 greensboro nc 4/13
    grand four seasons 18 greensboro nc 4/13
    greensboro grande 16 greensboro nc 4/13
    carmike 14 hickory nc 4/13
    movies@birkdale 16 huntersville nc 4/13
    carmike 16 jacksonville nc 4/13
    amstar cinema 14 megaplex mooresville nc 4/13
    raleigh grande 16 raleigh nc 4/13
    premiere 14 rocky mount nc 4/13
    tinseltown 14 salisbury nc 4/13
    carmike 16 wilmington nc 4/13
    grand 18 winston-salem nc 4/13
    wynnsong 12 winston salem nc 4/13
    carmike 8 theatres bismarck nd 4/13
    west acres 14 theatres fargo nd 4/13
    carmike 10 theatres grand forks nd 4/13
    twin creek 16 bellevue ne 4/13
    grand cinema 14 lincoln ne 4/13
    20 grand omaha ne 4/13
    aMC oakview 24 omaha ne 4/13
    westroads 14 omaha ne 4/13
    burlington 20 burlington nj 4/13
    cherry hill 24 cherry hill nj 4/13
    town center plaza 15 east windsor nj 4/13
    towne stadium 16 egg harbor township nj 4/13
    aMC hamilton 24 hamilton nj 4/13
    destiny 12 hamilton nj 4/13
    cumberland mall 14 vineland nj 4/13
    century 14 albuquerque nm 4/13
    rio 24 albuquerque nm 4/13
    uA highridge 8 albuquerque nm 4/13
    uA devargas center 6 santa fe nm 4/13
    green valley ranch stadium 10 henderson nv 4/13
    century 16 santa fe station las vegas nv 4/13
    century 16 south point las vegas nv 4/13
    century 18 sam’s town las vegas nv 4/13
    century desert 16 las vegas nv 4/13
    century orleans 18 las vegas nv 4/13
    century suncoast 16 las vegas nv 4/13
    red rock stadium 16 las vegas nv 4/13
    town square 18 las vegas nv 4/13
    aliante station 16 w/ imax north las vegas nv 4/13
    riverside 12 reno nv 4/13
    crossgates mall 18 albany ny 4/13
    spectrum cinema 7 albany ny 4/13
    garden cinemas 12 binghamton ny 4/13
    elmwood center 16 buffalo ny 4/13
    walden galleria stadium 16 cheektowaga ny 4/13
    culver ridge cinema 16 irondequoit ny 4/13
    ithaca mall stadium 14 ithaca ny 4/13
    hollywood 12 niagara falls ny 4/13
    quaker crossing 18 orchard park ny 4/13
    henrietta cinema 18 rochester ny 4/13
    little cinema 5 rochester ny 4/13
    pittsford cinema 9 rochester ny 4/13
    tinseltown 16 rochester ny 4/13
    carousel mall 17 syracuse ny 4/13
    salmon run stadium 12 watertown ny 4/13
    webster 12 west webster ny 4/13
    transit center 16 williamsville ny 4/13
    montrose movies 12 akron oh 4/13
    tinseltown usa 15 canton oh 4/13
    chagrin cinema 14 chagrin falls oh 4/13
    western hills 14 cincinnati oh 4/13
    severance town center 14 cleveland heights oh 4/13
    capitol theatre cleveland oh 4/13
    tower city 11 cleveland oh 4/13
    aMC easton towne center 30 columbus oh 4/13
    aMC lenox town center 24 columbus oh 4/13
    drexel east 3 columbus oh 4/13
    gateway film center columbus oh 4/13
    georgesville square 16 columbus oh 4/13
    polaris 18 columbus oh 4/13
    aMC dublin village 18 dublin oh 4/13
    movies 16 gahanna gahanna oh 4/13
    huber heights 16 huber heights oh 4/13
    cinemark 15 macedonia oh 4/13
    deerfield towne center stadium 16 mason oh 4/13
    middleburg town square 16 middleburg heights oh 4/13
    boulevard centre movies 14 niles oh 4/13
    levis commons 12 perrysburg oh 4/13
    marcus theatres 16 pickerington oh 4/13
    richmond town square 20 richmond heights oh 4/13
    cobblestone square 20 sheffield heights oh 4/13
    solon commons cinema 16 solon oh 4/13
    franklin park 16 toledo oh 4/13
    cinemark 24 valley view oh 4/13
    dayton south 16 west carrollton oh 4/13
    streets of west chester 18 west chester oh 4/13
    crocker park stadium 16 westlake oh 4/13
    spotlight 14 norman oh 4/13
    aMC quail springs 24 oklahoma city ok 4/13
    harkins bricktown 16 oklahoma city ok 4/13
    tinseltown 20 oklahoma city ok 4/13
    carmike 10 stillwater ok 4/13
    aMC southroads 20 tulsa ok 4/13
    cinemark 16 tulsa ok 4/13
    century 16 beaverton or 4/13
    pilot butte 6 plex bend or 4/13
    darkside cinemas corvallis or 4/13
    bijou art cinema eugene or 4/13
    century 16 eastport portland or 4/13
    century clackamas town center 20 portland or 4/13
    lancaster mall stadium 11 salem or 4/13
    cinemark 17 springfield or 4/13
    bridgeport 18 tigard or 4/13
    destinta´s chartiers 20 bridgeville pa 4/13
    promenade 16 center valley pa 4/13
    downingtown cinema 16 downingtown pa 4/13
    tinseltown 17 erie pa 4/13
    carmike 15 greensburg pa 4/13
    reily midtown theater harrisburg pa 4/13
    manor cinemas 16 lancaster pa 4/13
    pittsburgh north 11 mcCandless park pa 4/13
    destinta´s plaza east 22 north versailles pa 4/13
    cinemark robinson township robinson twp(Pgh) pa 4/13
    premiere 9 state college pa 4/13
    warrington crossing 22 warrington pa 4/13
    waterfront theatre west homestead pa 4/13
    providence place mall providence ri 4/13
    seaturtle cinema bluffton sc 4/13
    charles towne square 18 charleston sc 4/13
    terrace theater charleston sc 4/13
    columbiana grande 14 columbia sc 4/13
    cherrydale stadium 16 greenville sc 4/13
    palmetto grande 16 mt pleasant sc 4/13
    cinemark myrtle beach myrtle beach sc 4/13
    grand 14 at market common myrtle beach sc 4/13
    spartan 16 spartanburg sc 4/13
    beacon theatres 10 sumter sc 4/13
    hollywood 20 cinemas bartlett tn 4/13
    east ridge 18 chattanooga tn 4/13
    majestic 12 chattanooga tn 4/13
    great escape 16 clarksville tn 4/13
    collierville towne cin 16 collierville tn 4/13
    malco cordova cinema 16 cordova tn 4/13
    thoroughbred franklin tn 4/13
    ajay hollywood 16 jackson tn 4/13
    regal downtown west eight knoxville tn 4/13
    majestic 20 memphis tn 4/13
    paradiso cinema 14 memphis tn 4/13
    wynnsong 16 murfreesboro tn 4/13
    hollywood 27 nashville tn 4/13
    opry mills 20 & imax nashville tn 4/13
    smyrna cinema 14 smyrna tn 4/13
    century 12 abilene tx 4/13
    uA amarillo star 14 amarillo tx 4/13
    aMC barton creek mall 14 austin tx 4/13
    amstar 14 dallax tx 4/13
    carmike 20 edinburg tx 4/13
    carmike 16 el paso tx 4/13
    cielo vista 14 el paso tx 4/13
    aMC stonebriar 24 frisco tx 4/13
    hulen village ten ft worth tx 4/13
    uA fossil creek 11 ft worth tx 4/13
    aMC grapevine mills 30 grapevine tx 4/13
    aMC studio 30 houston tx 4/13
    eDW marq*e stadium 23 cinema houston tx 4/13
    greenway grand palace 24 houston tx 4/13
    north east mall 18 hurst tx 4/13
    lufkin movies 12 lufkin tx 4/13
    century odessa 12 odessa tx 4/13
    permian palace 11 odessa tx 4/13
    alamo quarry 14 san antonio tx 4/13
    bijou san antonio tx 4/13
    cielo vista 18 san antonio tx 4/13
    fiesta 16 san antonio tx 4/13
    aMC first colony 24 sugarland tx 4/13
    carmike 14 tyler tx 4/13
    jewell 16 waco tx 4/13
    cinemark 14 wichita falls tx 4/13
    wynnsong 12 provo ut 4/13
    broadway centre cinemas 6 salt lake city ut 4/13
    megaplex 20 at the district south jordan ut 4/13
    hW connection 15 west valley city ut 4/13
    aMC hoffman 22 alexandria va 4/13
    ballston commons 12 arlington va 4/13
    shirlington 7 theatres arlington va 4/13
    fox stadium 16 ashburn va 4/13
    fairfax corner 14 fairfax va 4/13
    kingstowne stadium 16 kingstowne va 4/13
    commonwealth 20 midlothian va 4/13
    kiln creek 14 newport news va 4/13
    macarthur center 18 norfolk va 4/13
    movieland 17 richmond va 4/13
    westhampton theatre 2 richmond va 4/13
    countryside cinema 20 sterling va 4/13
    lynnhaven 18 virginia beach va 4/13
    merrill´s roxy theatre burlington va 4/13
    super-plex 17 auburn wa 4/13
    sehome 3 cinemas bellingham wa 4/13
    cascade mall theatre 14 burlington wa 4/13
    everett stadium 16 everett wa 4/13
    century sea tac mall 16 federal way wa 4/13
    martin village stadium 16 lacey wa 4/13
    lakewood cinema 15 lakewood wa 4/13
    alderwood cinemas 7 lynnwood wa 4/13
    longston place 14 puyallup wa 4/13
    landing stadium 14 renton wa 4/13
    river park square 20 spokane wa 4/13
    southcenter 16 tukwila wa 4/13
    city center cinema 12 vancouver wa 4/13
    appleton east cinema appleton wi 4/13
    bay park cinemas 16 ashwaubenon wi 4/13
    oakwood mall 12 theatres eau claire wi 4/13
    eastgate 16 cinemas madison wi 4/13
    sundance 608 madison wi 4/13
    marcus 18 menomonee falls wi 4/13
    oriental 3 milwaukee wi 4/13
    ridge cinema 16 new berlin wi 4/13
    south shore cinemas 16 oak creek wi 4/13
    mayfair mall 18 wauwatosa wi 4/13
    morgantown mall 12 morgantown wv 4/13
    varsity 5 cinemas ashland or 4/13

    THE SHIT IS PLAYING IN WASILLA, ALASKA NOW. That’s close to Russia I believe, so some of my Russian readers should be able to canoe in and check it out. Check your local listings, these are just the newly added ones, and there might be more theaters than this. You can’t stop The Raid.

  205. Knox Harrington

    April 12th, 2012 at 3:38 am

    I don’t see Cape Town on there. Where’s the love for your African cousins, Obama?

  206. I really hope BATTLESHIP flops. Flop hard. I have nothing but hatred already for this movie. This movie is all wrong. I hope this movie fails so miserably it makes JOHN CARTER look like AVATAR by comparison. And i hope BATTLESHIP sinks the film careers of everybody involved, director, writers, stars and executives alike (with the exception of Liam Neeson). Outside of the Michael Bay and JarJar Abrams movies, i can’t think of another that so represents so well what’s so wrong with today’s Holywood.

  207. Griff – I’m convinced the design of the alien has been used before; basically, they look that guy from that heavy metal band whose name escapes me.

    The armor they wear is clearly nicked from HALO, of course.

    The more I think about it, the more I realise that BATTLESHIP and films like that are the complete opposite to films like THE RAID. And we don’t need an Anti-RAID in this world.

    Huge budget vs small, cardboard cut-out characters vs ones we care about, things blowing up vs action that works, and so on.

    Not only that but I’ve just seen a poster for B’SHIP that copies the one for THE RAID, which really takes the biscuit.

  208. The aliens of BATTLESHIT, i mean BATTLESHIP, they have all that insectoid with spikes look that is so common to all evil aliens in today’s blockbusters. Hell, it’s also the design of the aliens in the cheapo SKYLINE. Everybody is designing the same for all aliens in movies this days. Fantastic! What lack of imagination!

  209. Man, I hope that THE RAID will either get a German release date soon, or that it’s still playing somewhere in Toronto, when I’m there by the end of next month. (Won’t happen, but I try to stay optimistic.)

  210. Karlos, are you thinking of Gwar?

    Am I the only one who thinks the idea of a BATTLESHIP movie could be great fun? But the approach would have to be to embrace he ridiculousness of it, not take it über seriously like Hollywood does now. I’m sure THIS Battleship is not the crazy ride I’d want.

  211. whenever somebody calls to Karlos, my first reaction is they are talking to me, since my real name is Carlos. It’s uncanny.

  212. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    April 12th, 2012 at 1:10 pm

    Mike – I’m the one guy on the planet who gleamed SOME enjoyment out of “Pearl Harbor”, so I can’t blame you too much.

    Everyone who mentioned Nolan – I agree.

    Everyone who mentioned Battleships’ hateability and expressed wishes that it would bomb – I couldn’t care less, and it probably won’t. From the trailer, it looked like they went into that film with the intention of creating the most cliche’d, by-the-numbers action movie ever made. And succeeded. If people want to see craptastic explode-a-thons, let ’em. Who cares? It’s not like this film is causing a dearth in the amount of really good or great movies coming out.

    What I’m saying is, don’t take a movie like “Battleships” personally guys. It isn’t made to personally offend your sensibilities, it’s made to keep its producers’ cocaine supplies nice and full. Which it will do very nicely for the next month or so before everybody forgets that it ever existed. That’s the way the system works.

    No, if you want to get pissy at a movie, choose one worthy of your scorn. I refer of course to “Total Recall: The Remake”. Starring Colin Fucking Farrell. In a remake of a classic collaboration between Verhoven and Arnie. Seriously, this entire concept assaults my childhood so much, I’m surprised I have any left at all.

    Vern – I think you might have missed a showing. I’d recheck if I were you.

  213. Everything about BATTLESHIP looks dire, but I maintain some hope that Peter Berg keeps a sense of humor and does something fun with it. Conceptually, nothing wrong with military-fights-aliens-in-boats, but if you just make it a big dour frown fest what the fuck is the point? Not that I want them to treat it like a joke, just to treat it like we’re hoping to be entertained by stuff. You know, *fun*, like we used to enjoy.

    CJ/asmimov — still with ya on the UNDERWORLD hate. I don’t deny that it tries to set up a complex and densely interconnected inner mythology, its just that said mythology is stunningly dull. Nothing even remotely imaginative, let alone fun. It’s about as fun as writing a paper on French kings of the 1500s. Lots of information, little of interest.

    In fact, UNDERWORLD is a perfect example of a action movie with a perfectly fine premise which just seems absolutely dedicated to glowering away any hint of actual enjoyment. It’s an angry, sullen drunk of a movie when it should be a manic this-is-a-horrible-idea-I-can’t-believe-we’re-doing-it-but-whooooooooo!!! drunk. Really hoping BATTLESHIP goes in the latter direction.

  214. “don’t take a movie like “Battleships” personally”

    Too late.

    As for the Total Recall remake, well, i’m not negative about it because i read the short story and there’s potential to it that the much beloved and hallowed Verhoeven movie didn’t cover. Though it seems the remake is indeed a remake of the first movie and has little of the original short story in it. But the main reason why i’m yet to fall into the hate crowd is because the movie will feature a catfight between Kate Beckinsale vs Jessica Biel. i’m curious as that turns out. So, until i watch the movie, i reserve my judgement.

  215. But seriously, how is the actual premise of the game (“Giant fucking battleships and submarines shoot at each other”) not an acceptable premise for a movie? Where do the aliens come from? That’s the insulting part. It’s not that they’re making a movie out of a board game, it’s that they’re not even really doing that.

  216. Mr. Majestyk – yeah that’s what I find weird as well, why aliens? aren’t aliens overdone enough already? a movie about modern navel warfare (something that would never actually happen, in other words) could potentially have been interesting

    but I guess the problem was, who in the fucking hell would fight the US Navy? I mean that would be like trying to take on a tank with a pistol, that’s why the Government still spends so much money on the Navy so that they can completely, utterly dominate the ocean

    the only thing I can imagine plot-wise working is if it was some sort of alternate history deal of a Naval battle between the US and Russia in the 80’s, but then it wouldn’t be quite as “modern” and it would just end in a nuclear war killing everyone, which would be a bummer of an ending

  217. Why not some billionaire maniac with a private navy? You start it like a Godzilla movie, with a fishing vessel on foggy waters at night off the coast of Cape Horn. Suddenly, the fisherman hears a booming sound way off in the distance. He looks around, doesn’t see anything. Suddenly, from the sky comes a flash of light and the ship explodes. We cut to a credits sequence modeled after the plastic gray ships and red and white pins of the original game, then cut to the control room of naval intelligence, where “some strange satellite readings” have come through of something off the coast of Antarctica. A small group of ships is dispatched. Oh my God it’s a private navy equipped with crazy sci-fi weaponry the likes of which have never been seen before! The US ships are destroyed and only Ensign John Carter survives! He is taken prisoner on the evil flagship, where he meets the leader (Some English guy) and fights UNDER SIEGE-style from the inside while the evil fleet heads to the Panama Canal, which is destroyed in the major second-act action setpiece, cutting the bulk of the US fleet off from the Pacific Ocean, allowing the evil fleet to attack California! Can the remaining US ships (commanded by Admiral Liam Neeson, who is totally Not Irish) defeat them? Can Rihanna’s curiously revealing uniform really make a difference?

    Was that so hard? Christ, it’s like no one’s ever seen an episode of G.I. Joe before.

  218. Mr Subtlety – there is a “wacky” sequence at the beginning of the movie, but after that, there is zero humor in it.

    It is utterly po-faced and serious for most of it’s running time.

    It also *really* wants to be ARMAGEDDON. The more I think back to it, the more that film was clearly it’s template.

  219. Mr. Majestyk, the problem with the movie BATTLESHIT is that it’s not about sea ships shooting the hell out of each other, but a lame ass stupid dumb ass fuck alien invasion movie where i’m supposed to believe that vulnerable sea vessels can match up and face off fucking aliens who can space travel from star to star. My intelligence has limits to how much stupidity abuse can take.

  220. Griff, how about a fictional big ass naval battle from WWII? That would work, specially because it was the last time battleships actually engage in a fight. Shoving aliens in this is the work of beyond mental stupiditiy retardness. It’s beyond retard. Fuck this movie!

  221. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    April 13th, 2012 at 3:12 am

    Asimov – producers, cocaine, etc.

    As regards “Underworld”, I think Subtlety said it perfectly. I wasn’t expecting it to be good, but I was at least expecting a kinda-fun “Matrix” ripoff. What I got was just so… un-fun.

    I recently said to Vern that my least favorite type of movies to discuss is the ones that are bad in an uninteresting way. The example I gave of the terrible-but-fun was “Valentine” – I could literally write pages worth of stuff on that one scene where the girl gets shot twice in the chest before falling down the stairwell, and how many rules of both human behavior and physics you’d have to ignore in order to find that even remotely plausible. That shit was hilarious, to me. Don’t get me wrong, the movie was awful, but I got into it just because of scenes like that.

    “Underworld”, though, was terrible but in a really uninteresting way. It’s been ages since I watched it, and for the life of me I can’t remember a single specific scene, or what happened to most of the characters, or even what they looked like. I don’t think there was a single thing in that movie that held my interest or captured my imagination – it was just so much nothing.

  222. You know what, let’s have this one thread stay on topic. It’s THE RAID, man. THE RAID.

    Did THE RAID go off on a tangent about VALENTINE? No, it’s the fucking RAID. We like it for its simplicity and single-mindedness. I believe we can pay it proper tribute by either writing about it or writing about other crap in the other places where it makes sense to write about that type of crap.

    All future posts about UNDERWORLD or VALENTINE on this thread will be treated as you shitting on my grandmother’s grave in front of me.

  223. Vern, we need a new Potpourri man

  224. Hey, you know what else was awesome about THE RAID? Everything.


  225. Griff – if we had forums, this wouldn’t be a problem.

  226. Jareth Cutestory

    April 13th, 2012 at 7:24 am

    CJ Holden: The screening of THE RAID that I saw here in Toronto was sold out, as were screenings over the following few days. Drung its first week it was only playing one (large) theater; now it’s playing on 14 stadium sized screens. It’s gone from generating very good word of mouth to being an unqualified success. If it’s not playing in a chain theater by the end of May, it will be making the rounds at the repertory theaters all summer (and for years afterward). Be sure to check the listings for the Carlton, the Toronto Underground, and the Bloor. It’ll be playing at one of those, probably until 2019.

    Toronto is some sort of purgatory for films that are invisible to the mainstream, like the Cronenberg Viggofreud movie, which has been playing for 14 weeks despite the DVD coming out 3 weeks ago.

  227. Woohoo! Awesome! Thanks for the info, Jareth!

    And come on, guys. Am I REALLY the only one who read that one line in Vern’s SEAGALOGY EX & UP post that said: “I also give you permission to use this post as the new potpourri thread”?

  228. I can’t believe The Raid actually made it to my neck of the woods. Gonna see it tomorrow night with some friends. Can’t wait.

  229. Are we really saying THE RAID is an action classic. Is now the point in the conversation where someone could reasonably suggest that it’s good and should be the minimum standard for executing a premise and conveying exciting action, but if DIE HARD and THE RAID opened on the same day, history would continue as we know it with DIE HARD being the highwatermark and not causing any butterfly effect ripples?

  230. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    April 14th, 2012 at 5:41 pm

    Fred – I am at least hoping that it’s as good as it’s hyped up to be. And the concensus seems to be that yeah, it’s pretty damn good. I’ll take “pretty damn good” in an Asian action film about a siege of police officers trapped in the tower of a crime lord, thanks.

    Of course, me being me, it’s always possible that I’ll hate it. But I’ll take my chances when it finally comes out over here.

  231. Hang on, I just realised that THE RAID is one letter away from being an anagram of DIE HARD, and both are about outnumbered cops locked in desperate strugge inside a multi-storey building.

  232. But nothing’s as good as Die Hard except Hard Boiled and Die Hard. Don’t you think you’ll put The Raid on a shelf next to Tom Yum Goong, Ip Man and Universal Soldier: Regeneration, and if so doesn’t that make it a new action classic?

  233. I like the idea that keeping it on the shelf makes it a classic. That also allows all my other favorites to be classics too and I hate the elitist view of limiting what can be classic or “great.” like critics who’ll only give out one or two four star reviews a year because that has to be precious.

    I’m a very open, inclusive film lover so I’m happy to qualify THE RAID in that spirit. And it’s undeniably more popular than many of my personal favorites, though popularity isn’t everythIng either. But it’s the perfect storm of acclaim and sincere appreciation.

    I’d make a case for DRIVE as a modern classic too but then I’d just have to make another case for something I like more than DRIVE but is too whimsical to be taken seriously.

  234. I have to agree with Karlos. BATTLESHIP has probably the most inept, poorly planned Alien Invasion ever. Unfortunately its opened at No 1 at the overseas Box Office everywhere.


    A Cripple with no legs actually beats up a HALO style Armoured Alien faceup. And don’t get me on the Alien’s weaknesses. It’s mind numbingly stupid.

    I’ve to say i didn’t hate the latest Underworld entry. UNDERWORLD AWAKENING. There’s plenty of gunfire and fights there. Poorly shot and dull action mostly. But at least its there.

  235. My apologies Vern. Missed out on your post. Disregard my post above and concentrate on THE RAID talk.

  236. Just got back from seeing it at the Alamo. Fan-fucking-tastic!

    Also; Bullet-time is to The Matrix as machetes are to The Raid…?

  237. Loved your review, vern! Thank you!

    Calling out all fans of “The Raid” to join the forum: http://z13.invisionfree.com/TheRaidFansZone

    Let’s discuss more about the movie in details!

  238. I know I’m late to the party, but I finally saw The Raid at Actionfest, and like I told Mouth and Fred – The Raid is to hard R martial arts action movies what Deadfall is to Nicolas Cage mega-acting fans – in some ways it’s a clinic, an ultimate text, a holy grail that cannot be topped, but in other ways it’s just “too much of a good thing” – exhausting and numbing and I weirdly didn’t enjoy it as much as I thought I would or wanted to. Yes, I appreciate the streamlined plot and the comprehensible action (immediately addressing two huge complaints everyone has with Hollywood action movies) but for some reason I found the story uninvolving -the two twists involving the brother and the corrupt old cop actually detracted from the primal simplicity of the nightmare scenario (I really wish they just kept it even leaner and twist-free like Carpenter’s original Assault on Precinct 13). And the aforementioned ending (everything post-Mad Dog) just seemed like an anticlimactic let down.

    Plus, and this will hurt my credibility here – i actually don’t think the fight scenes were that involving. I mean, sure, the camera’s not shaky and there’s ton of carnage plus moves/kills we haven’t seen before. But there’s a weird rehearsed quality to it that didn’t suck me in. It’s like a “dance” as we’ve heard said about martial arts fight scenes hundreds of times before, but this time i don’t mean that in a good way. I should be sitting there with my jaw dropped but I just sat there like “yep, looks like they spent alot of time rehearsing this fight”. The only true “classic” scene to me was the Mad Dog fight (of course) but even that didn’t engage me the way the Tony Jaa stairway fight or the last 30 minutes of Chocolate did.

    Oh and re: Ebert’s review – I really want to know what he was thinking w/ the statement that “establishing Rama as a Muslim seems pointless, except as a cheap fakeout in character development.” It’s a curious, random nitpick at best; backwards-thinking and kind of racist at worst.

  239. I finally caught The Raid and it was kinda disapointing. The first half of the movie was awesome; tense, exciting and with fucking great action. Then the movie slows down and asks you to care for the characters, but it`s too late. I guess the situation is exciting enough to get you involved in the story, but the maincharacter is to bland and underwritten, that I couldn`t give a toss if he actually survived or not. Maybe he should have called his pregnant girlfriend or something. The villains were good, especially Mad Dog, and the score was almost perfect. When the snipers started taking policemen out and that fat beat kicks in, I was in actionheaven.

    I`ll properbly watch this a billion times when I get the dvd. The action is amazing and the first half is the best beginning of an actionfilm since Matrix.

    I were ranting about action in an earlier post, trying to figure out what elements make a great actionfilm. I ended up concluding that the action should matter. I figured that in order to make action matter, it should have some sort of impact on the protagonist or the story.
    Well, The Raid didn`t convince me that great action makes a great action movie, but it showed me that you don`t need to be invested in the story or the characters in order to feel the impact of the action:
    1) The policemen who enters the building are scared shitless when it all turns to hell. Just seeing them being confused and afraid made the action exciting and involving. It didn`t hurt that the beginning of the movie almost was directed as a horrormovie, with claustraphobic settings, tight framing, loud noises, uncomftable moments of silence, and a sense of real dread. As soon as we were left with the unstoppable hero, who didn`t seem as afraid as his collegues, the movie just wasn`t exciting anymore.

    2) The Action was fucking brutal! I think brutal action was a part of what made Die Hard work so well too. When people got stapped, kicked, shot etc, it fucking hurt. I guess that`s a part of why the action really mattered in this one.

    So in conclusion; pain and fear can almost substitute story and character. Almost. What the movie really needed was villains you wanted to see being beaten up. Now, the police-villain didn`t really come over as a threat, the boss didn`t either, and Mad Dog was by far the most interesting character in the movie, so I weren`t excited about seeing him getting killed. They should have taken a leaf from the book of Rambo and made the bad guy an fascist pedo-rapist or something. That usually works.

    Also, I would have been blown away, if the movie hadn`t been as hyped as it was. My friend, who didn`t know anything about it, was estatic. It also made her really horny, so it might be a great date-movie.

    And tonight: The Avengers…

  240. I don’t agree that action HAS to hurt. That’s the whole PG-13ification of LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD debate all over again. I’m sure many bad movies try to coast on how brutal the action is but I don’t have examples. Oh, BAD BOYS II.

    I guess I’m saying I don’t want carnage to be a prerequisite of good action. It can be an asset but let’s keep it in the rift hands. I also love light whimsical action like Jackie Chan and SHOOT EM UP.

    But clearly it can be a shorthand and I like getting right to the point without a lot of explanation.

  241. fred

    Action can be painfull without being graphic or gory. Wasn`t T2 pg-13? It had Sarah Connor being stabbed in the shoulder and almost crying in pain in the car, hence making the next confrontation exciting. If violence doesn`t hurt in an movie, then the threat of action (and the suspense) pretty non-existent.

  242. Hmm, no, it wasn`t… Doesn`t really matter, though. I can`t remember a single great actionfilm, that was rated pg-13. (and I mean great, not just good)

  243. except The Incredibles, off course. I`ll get me coat…

  244. Yes, Pixar is a great example. UP is thrilling too. I’d say the FAST AND THE FURIOUS movies at their best emphasize elegant driving over crashes.

    But what am I talking about here. The examples are few and far between so it’s more of an achievement when they break the standard.

  245. RAIDERS was PG back when PG was more like PG-13 and it has some of the greatest action scenes of all time.

  246. Real life THE RAID:
    4 years ago, an ODA task force performed an insane mission in Shok Valley, Nuristan, Afghanistan, with about 80 cherry local “commandoes” on the Afghans soldiers’ 1st mission, trying to kill/capture a terrorist-jihadist, but they got ambushed because of bad intel, cowardly operational restrictions, and poor helo-based infil tactics. Also, they were expected to do like Rama’s SWAT team and fight from ground level up to the top, never a good idea.

    *****As the assaulters ascended, at times climbing directly up sheer rock faces, Special Forces operators identified enemy moving into position and initiated contact, killing multiple combatants.

    Within seconds, approximately 200 insurgents executed a well planned defense of the village, completely surrounding the assault force from the high ground. U.S. troops and Afghan Commandos were immediately trapped in a wadi, completely surrounded by mountains full of insurgent fighters in buildings and reinforced fighting positions, armed with sniper rifles, RPGs, machine guns, and AK-47’s.

    The lead assault element, as well, as the command and control element, were hundreds of meters up the mountain, and within direct proximity to the target, when they were pinned down by heavy machine gun fire and effective sniper fire.

    Within minutes, one member of the command and control element was killed (TERP (*interpreter)), and all elements were taking heavy casualties.*****

    *****The ferocity of the attack surprised him, as rounds ricocheted nearby every time he stuck his head out from behind a rock. “Typically they run out of ammo or start to manage their ammo, but …. they held a sustained rate of fire for about six hours,” he said.

    As Ford and Staff Sgt. John Wayne Walding returned fire, Walding was hit below his right knee. Ford turned and saw that the bullet “basically amputated his right leg right there on the battlefield.”

    Walding, of Groesbeck, Tex., recalled: “I literally grabbed my boot and put it in my crotch, then got the boot laces and tied it to my thigh, so it would not flop around. There was about two inches of meat holding my leg on.” He put on a tourniquet, watching the blood flow out the stump to see when it was tight enough.

    Then Walding tried to inject himself with morphine but accidentally used the wrong tip of the syringe and put the needle in his thumb, he later recalled. “My thumb felt great,” he said wryly, noting that throughout the incident he never lost consciousness. “My name is John Wayne,” he said.
    . . .
    By the time the battle ended, the Green Berets and the commandos had suffered 15 wounded and two killed, both Afghans, while an estimated 150 to 200 insurgents were dead, according to an official Army account of the battle. The Special Forces soldiers had nearly run out of ammunition, with each having one to two magazines left…*****

    But what I like most about the story of this operation is the part about the Air Force guy, Gutierrez, on the ground taking 2 bullets to the helmet (!!) but not getting injured or rattled. I can sort of relate to the job he did in this mission, because I have also guided attack helicopters & fighter jets in danger close situations (though never taking direct enemy fire that close). This Air Force guy, though, he got credit for 40 kills (!!!) on one day, April 6, 2008. Goddamn, that’s a lot of killing.

  247. Raiders is really violent for a PG. Anyway, off to se The Avengers, which might be the best actionmovie this year. Maybe ever. Oh boy, am I excited. Yay!

  248. Confidential to all UK citizens who may be engaged in a royalist conspiracy to spoil THE AVENGERS: ASSEMBLATION for all god-fearing ‘Mericans who have to wait until May to see it like Jeebus intended: Cut that shit out.

  249. Mr. Majestyk: You have my word as a scholar and a gentleman that after I see THE ASSEMBLERS: VENGEANCE tomorrow, I will not spoil it, for fear that Joss Whedon will do what he threatened to do to CitW spoiler-people:



    It`s pure awesomeness with a bit of awesomeness on top.


  251. Mr. Majestyk – Avengers win. SPOILER!!!

    Speaking of them, did anybody read SeanBaby’s take on them over at Cracked?


    “Hulk Sober 3 Weeks!”

  252. Yeah and I realized that I’ve gotten too old to laugh at Seanbaby’s stuff anymore :( ah how I yearn for the late 90’s were his articles were the peak of net humor. Good times.

    Though “TO KEVIN” did receive a chuckle from me.

  253. My only solace is the knowledge that you non-Americans are getting a different cut of AVENGERS, the one that doesn’t include Marvel’s usual post-credits bonus scene, in which ScarJo totally gets naked for our eyes only.

  254. Got to see this on Tuesday night here in New Zealand. Best action flick in… 5 years? More?

    I spent a lot of this move (when I wasnt going OH SHIT at the fights) thinking about how Asian “action heroes” have to work a hell of a lot harder to entertain than their Hollywood equivalents – who pretty much just have to be burly and wave a pretend gun around.

    Hearing that the new Judge Dredd might have the same plot was almost laughable. Karl Urban doing that crazy non stop kung fu shit? Cos if he doesnt that mvie isnt really going to compare, no matter how much CGI is in it.

    Did anyone else notice the hat-tips to Walter Hill’s THE WARRIORS? Particularly when chief badass gets on the PA and announces the reward for taking out the cops. The close up of his lips talking into the mike, and his exaggerated vocal inflections – very reminiscent of scenes with the radio DJ chick in THE WARRIORS

  255. Holy shit, Staff Sgt. Walding wins for most badass self suturing!

  256. I just started Kevin Maurer’s book about that operation, the up-the-mountain ambush in which SSG John Wayne loses his leg and laughs about it, but it looks like most of the really interesting mission details already got covered in online posts and in Maurer’s recent appearance on C-SPAN’s Book TV. Some of my friends tell me he’s a pretty cool guy (guess he gets around Fayetteville and OEF-land quite a bit), and the book’s co-author is a Pulitzer Prize winner, so hopefully it’s a good read.


  257. – mouth

    Would you feel better if I told you that I have to wait 3 months for the premiere of Cabin in the Woods?

  258. Yes, that *does* make me feel better.

    USA! USA!

  259. If you guys want to know more about the cast of the movie, here is a youtube link to a talk show in Indonesia with The Raid cast, click on the cc to read the English caption/subtitle.

    Yayan ‘Mad Dog’ Ruhian impresses me, turn out he’s a funny, witty and inteligent guy.

  260. Forgot to say, don’t watch the youtube vid I mention above if you haven’t seen The Raid. Some spoilers in it, especially on the choreography part as Iko explains how they designed the choreography.

  261. My luck again. Apparently the movie has already left Toronto.

  262. No, wait, it’s still playing at the AMC Yonge & Dundas. Cross your fingers that it will still play next week!

  263. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    May 21st, 2012 at 10:11 am

    FINALLY saw “The Raid” in the cinema. It’s great.

    The characterisation is tense but gave me what I needed. If I have a complaint, and it’s a fairly minor one, it’s that once they get to that inevitable point where every single person conveniently runs out of ammunition at the same time and they all turn to fist / knife fights (funny how often that happens in movies!) the fights, while spectacularly done, don’t really provide much “characterisation”. And when so much of the movie is fighting, that’s something of a drawback. Everyone uses the same brand of kung-fu and most apply it similarly. During the fights there aren’t, for the most part, angry people, scared people, tentative people, etc. It’s all of a muchness. The exception is Mad Dog, and he is one HELL of a physical threat. Not quite to the level of Wu Jung from “Kill Zone” but really impressive nonetheless.

    But what the hell, not every martial arts movie can be “Enter the Dragon” and I’m not ripping into this one. For the most part it gave me exactly what I wanted – a bloody good time, literally, with a proper thrill ride. The direction and acting was excellent, the action scenes were mostly clearly shot (there was shakycam but it’s not used to the point that it detracts from the film IMO) which is plainly important in a film this action-heavy.

    One more nitpick: I would’ve liked to have seen more of the big boss guy, especially after his introduction. (The thing with the gun that runs out of bullets was pure awesome.) Again, this is a fairly minor point and didn’t spoil the movie for me at all.

    Couple of side notes:

    1) It’s so long since I’ve seen a good death-by-fire-axe on screen. I appreciate one when it happens.

    2) The big bad’s two henchmen are named “Mad Dog” and “Andi”, the former of whom has the reputation of being a real psycho, the latter more level-headed. Hmmmmmmmm. I guess what I’m saying is, if you want your twists to come completely out of the blue, this may not be the right movie for you.

    Still really enjoyed this one though.

  264. Like Paul, I too have a minor nitpick that didn’t spoil anything. A tactical nitpick — Hard to believe squad leaders within the SWAT platoon, or the drivers, wouldn’t have established comms with HQ at some point before H minus 30 seconds in the truck or by the time they had capped 1-2 presumed hostiles on site. Maybe the movie could’ve shown the older officer guy doing this, pretending to speak into a phone or radio, which would compound his character’s deceitfulness leading up to the big twist near the end, but then that also changes how the movie handles the “you’re all alone with no support and no one knows you’re here and you’re fucked” horror aspect of it.

    Reviewing what Vern said above — ***”But nothing’s as good as Die Hard except Hard Boiled and Die Hard. Don’t you think you’ll put The Raid on a shelf next to Tom Yum Goong, Ip Man and Universal Soldier: Regeneration, and if so doesn’t that make it a new action classic?”*** — I’ll put THE RAID on that same shelf, Vern, but I also agree that MERANTAU is a better movie overall.

    THE RAID is good, maybe great, awesome, underrated, and overrated. Mostly it is awesome, though. DP/Evans coulda gone for less dark gray photography, but that’s the only less-than-effusive utterance you’ll hear from me on the filmatism.

    Start-to-finish ownage. Even my woman friend, who’s not usually a fight movie fan, loved it.

    I’m inclined to emphasize much of what Mr. Subtlety said about THE RAID up above here.

    The whole thing felt like PREDATOR to me, but THE RAID’s script is less joyful and I think its characters & character arcs trade the fun & depth of McTiernan’s classic for a heightened asskickery & brutality quotient. But PREDATOR & THE RAID share a horror genre foundation. And I love it.

    In conclusion, THE RAID is a horror movie and THE CABIN IN THE WOODS is not.

    Or is it?

  265. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    May 21st, 2012 at 4:11 pm

    Mouth – I saw the film twice and I couldn’t answer that question for you.

  266. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    May 22nd, 2012 at 8:43 am

    OR CAN I?

  267. I already played fast & loose with the “horror” label when I claimed most of YOUNG ADULT was essentially a horror movie with alcohol & ego as the machete and Charlize Theron as the Kane Hodder. So my credibility here could be spent.

    THE RAID is a “survival thriller” with lots of violence. Not quite horror, but the gruesomeness and scares are there in more abundance than in TCITW, which seemed more openly horror-y.

    Everything’s a mutt hybrid. I don’t care for an overabundance of post-post-modernness in cinema & criticism all the time, but I really don’t miss the old days of easy labels.

  268. Mouth – I can’t say that I miss those days either. Throwing different genre tropes that I enjoy into a blender is fine by me as long as the end drink is actually drinkable. When it’s done like TRANSFORMERS which still holds the distinction for miraculously mixing t&a + explosions + potty humor + teen comedy + kick ass cars + MUTHAFUCKING GIANT ROBOTS truly should never have = crap. Michael Bay came up with a new cinematic theory with that one.

  269. Oh and is there any home video news on this movie yet?

  270. *it truly should etc.

  271. Rehydrated Dehydrated Pirate Paul

    May 22nd, 2012 at 9:54 am

    I also have no longing to go back to the bad old days when every movie had to be “pigeonholed” into a certain genre, as fitting a certain audience. A helluva lot of my favorite recent movies might not have been anywhere near as good if they’d have been forced to stick to the old classifications.

  272. I got the chance to interview The Raid’s director, Gareth Evans the other week. I only had a ten minute slot so didnt get to ask him a lot, but talked about the original ideas for the film, a particularly nasty back-breaking scene and the character of Mad Dog. you can find it here:


  273. Good interview, Mike. But now I’m confused – I thought he was turning Berendal into the sequel to The Raid? So is he saying Iko plays a different character?

    That picture at the end of the article is great because who in the hell would look at those two guys and think they’d be the ones to make one of the most intensely badass action movie in a long time? Not me.

  274. Count me among those guys, who really, really loved that movie. Unfortunately the small crowd that I watched it with, remained silent, but I blame it on seeing it at 11am on a national holiday. Nobody walked out or seemed disappointed in the end, though.

  275. Berandal is the next film they’re making, but it’s not necessarily the sequel to The Raid – from what I understand.

  276. Surprise, surprise, the Raid has been out on dvd here in Norway for some time (I found out yesterday), and I watched it last night with the suspicion that it just might not live up to all the hype. Well, I liked it a lot, so relax guys (not that you would give a rats ass what I thought of something you already love, right?). It takes it’s premise from the French zombie movie The Horde and Johnnie To’s thriller Breaking News and mix it up with some of Ringo Lam’s flair (there’s nothing John Woo like here) and the result is quite entertaining. The Indonesian martial arts is messy and not shot in a very inventive way, but (BUT) I’ll probably buy it. And that’s something I don’t normally do with modern movies.

  277. Oh,its already released on dvd in Norway? How,lovely…We won´t see it in Sweden until September. I hate Sweden so fuckin much…

  278. Okay, I might have spoken a bit too early there, it’s out on this movie club called LOVEFILM, I don’t know about regular dvd. On the other hand you already have the new Hamilton movie on dvd, we won’t have until August or something (I have of course already seen it, since I live near the Swedish border).

  279. Hmm,looks like the swedish LOVEFILM might have it as well. Good of you to point it out,pegsman.

  280. By the way, the new Hamilton is surprisingly good, considering the shockingly shitty last movie with Peter Stormare and Mark Hamill. Well worth your time.

  281. I forgot to mention btw, that I didn’t like the Mike Shinoda score much. It worked very well when he tried to build atmosphere, but too often it turned into some cheesy Mortal Kombat type shit (without the fun factor). But at least it wasn’t distracting.

  282. Hey, that movie was directed by my neighbour (sort of) Harald Zwart! But I agree, the new one’s good. I’m no big fan of Persbrandt, but he’s one of the better Hamilton’s (my favorite is Stefan Sauk). For our American, English, Australian or European comrades, Hamilton is Sweden’s answer to James Bond. He’s a Commander in the military intelligence, a lord AND a communist, and he could probably kick 007’s ass if he wanted to.

  283. Something that could be good if Vern reviewed it. Which will probably never happen. Jesus,pegs! Zwart was your neighbour?! Give him a big smack on his face from me if you see him again.
    Seriously, HAMILTON could be a good movie outside the Nordic region. It´s basically an espionage thriller that could work internationally. It does have Jason Flemyng as a villain. As much respect I have for Mark Hamill ( and I hve tremendous respect for the guy since his Joker) Flemyng is actually a better baddie.

  284. Shit! LOVEFILM has this seductive crap that they want you to try out for free in 30 days. Its kinda great in a way. I can´t afford a subscription however, and I am not perfectly clear to how their shit works. I need to look into that. I desperately want to se THE RAID, but I don´t want to be fooled into some shit I don´t know how it works.

  285. I got a free 3 month membership from Amazon UK as a Christmas gift. Now I pay something like 79 krones monthly for one rental a week. It’s a lot cheaper than renting from a store and I get them delivered by mail.

  286. Thanks for the review. Justed added this movie to the top of my want list.

  287. That “Mad dog” is like some souped up version of Al Leong, if you ask me. Really liked this talking motion picture in colour. Intense as shit and brutal as hell. It was actually what I was hoping it to be. The kind of action with the visceral impact I miss in most action movies these days.
    You definitely feel the impact of the violence. there is no cuddling with the audience. Violence should be portrayed as brutal and give you that feeling of “Damn! Thats gotta hurt!” And this sure did. A pleasant surprise was the story and characters. I actually liked it. It was more streamlined instead of non-existent that some people would have it.

  288. Three months behind everyone else even The Netherlands finally got its theatrical release of The Raid. I went to see it last night and had one of the best theatre experiences in quite some time. Over here people are usually very quiet during films, they’ll laugh at jokes but normally you don’t get any yelling, clapping etc. The audience I was in was really into it though, especially during the final Mad Dog fight. I’m glad I got to experience that before the DVD came out, otherwise I would’ve just bought that and probably watched it by myself with a lonely box of tissues next to me on the couch.

    On the downside, I don’t love the film quite as much as most people seem to do. The first two thirds are brilliant, but I felt the fights were losing a little steam towards the end. While at first the fights were brutal and Rama seemed to aim for taking out his opponents as quickly as he could, by the time the lab fight happened the fighting seemed more obviously choreographed than before. It was like Rama didn’t go for the kill anymore just so his opponents would last longer and therefore seem tougher. This even happened in the Mad Dog fight were every time he was down, they kept grabbing him by the collar and pulling him back up instead of just kicking the back of his head in. Also by that time I felt they kept repeating the same moves over and over. Constantly the knees to the chest, then the other guy grabs the leg and throws his opponent against the wall. I felt there was more creativity in the earlier fights.

    The Raid also committed one of the great sins of action movies, which is starting the most exciting fight of the film (usually the showdown between the hero and the main villain and/or his main henchman) and then cutting away to some other scene nobody wants to see at that point. It’s even worse when there’s a perfect build-up to the fight as was the case here, with Mad Dog unchaining Andi and standing between them, challenging them to take him on at once. That’s action movie poetry right there. Then what do they do? After the first two punches the movie cuts away to the old lieutenant that nobody cares about, breaking the perfect flow the fight would’ve had if they showed the whole thing to us in one piece.

    Other examples of this are The Phantom Menace, where you have the fantastic build-up of Darth Maul standing behind the door, everybody taking off their robes, activating their lightsabers. You’re like, YES! LET’S GO! and then after the first strike they cut away to Jake Lloyd yelling “whoopie.” An example of how it should be done: the climax of Kiss Of The Dragon. Jet Li walking into the building, taking on the karate guys, then the twins, then the main villain and never once cutting away to Jake Lloyd yelling “whoopie.”

    Still a fantastic film though, The Raid. Can’t wait for the DVD.

  289. It starts here in Germany this Thursday. If I find a theatre that shows it, I really consider watching it again. (if not, I will just wait for the DVD.)

  290. For any of you that might be interested I highly recommend the director’s commentary on THE RAID: REDEMPTION. Gareth Evans goes into great detail the thought process for how they conceived, executed, and shot the action sequences. He also discusses his cinematic influences, how he was introduced to the Indonesian martial art Silat, how he discovered Iko Uwais, and how they ended up making THE RAID only after they couldn’t get funding to make (BERANDAL) the film they wanted to make after MERANTAU. It is very entertaining and informative. It also makes me excited to see what kind of amazing action spectacle Evans will be able to create with a greater budget. I can’t wait for BERANDAL.

  291. Anyone who knows if the commentary track is available on the UK dvd/blu-ray? I don´t think it is available on the swedish one, so importing might be a good idea.

  292. Shoot – the UK DVD and Blu has the commentary on, yes.

    Best place to get it from is probably Amazon.co.uk

  293. Thanks for the info,karlos. I have a reason to import the motherfucker now.

  294. It has TWO commentary tracks, one for each version of the film on the disc. Halfway through listening to one and it’s really good. Lots of nice info, like how the leader of the machete gang is actually an architect in real life, and how some crane shots actually have the cameraman suspended of them and lowered to the ground to switch to a view following the characters where the crane can’t go.

  295. Just saw and loved this. I don’t really understand the ‘nihilistic’ charge that some have leveled at this movie. Yes, it’s unrelenting, but the film has a clearly established sense of morality and the hero’s sole defining characteristic is his unwavering decency. It’d be one thing if he got brutally killed, or had to do something morally repugnant to survive, but that’s not the case. The movie plunges a decent man into a nightmare, but instead of being consumed by it, he kicks ass and walks away triumphant. “Nihilistic”?

  296. Found this info in Iko Uwais fans’ facebook, PT. Merantau Film is conducting audition for Berandal, anyone interested could send their resume and a video of their skills to hesti.purwaningsih@gmail.com before October 13, 2012.

    I’m curious who’s gonna be the Hammer Girl, though. Whether Evans will get an actress for the role through this audition or he might already have someone in mind.

  297. I just watched this last night. For a chop-socky movie, I really liked it. Some of the fight scenes were too long for my liking, but I never felt too disconnected from the plot because of it.

  298. The teaser trailer for part 2 is roaming the internets. Look for it. Seems like a nice escalation to the previous film.

  299. Any of you guys see VHS 2? Movie’s actually really good (HUGE step over the first one) but Evans’s segment is on an entirely other level. ‘Safe Haven’ takes all the same techniques that made THE RAID an adrenaline-soaked triumph, but turns that energy towards fucking your shit up with terror. Awesome awesome AWESOME.

  300. While his segment is good, VHS 2 fucking sucks.

  301. Evans/Tjahjanto’s segment is amazing, obviously the best segment in the entire series. The I’ll split the difference by saying the rest of V/H/S 2 is on average not quite as good as the best of VHS 1, but not as shitty as the worst of it, either. More consistent, but less high points, “Safe Haven” being the obvious exception. I must admit, my biggest disappointment was with Jason Eisner, who made the amazing HOBO WITH A SHOTGUN and the horrifying/hilarious gem Y IS FOR YOUNG BUCK segment of the ABCs OF DEATH. Both of those are gold, but his VHS segment is middling at best, grabbing a few nice images out of a mess of exposition and boring forced gimmick POV bullshit.

  302. Subtlety- There are some weak spots in VHS 2, yes, but nothing that made me want to smash my TV like West’s bit in the first one, or as incompetent as ‘Monday the 16th’ or whatever the fuck it was called.

    But more than anything, I just liked the VIBE of 2 more. With the stories in the first one (Radio Silence’s excepted) there was a gross, unpleasant atmosphere, even in the ones I liked. With 2, even the segments I didn’t like as much had a propulsive energy and a sense of play. And ‘Safe Haven’ elevates the whole enterprise to the stratosphere.

  303. Brendan — yeah, I appreciate that in general VHS 2 has much more likeable characters, less douchey frat boy cannon fodder. It’s easier to tolerate it’s flaws when you don’t actively dislike the characters. Although I actually pretty much loved Ti West’s segment, so each to their own I guess.

    Unfortunately, one of the reasons I think VHS 2 is more watchable is that it seems like it isn’t quite so dedicated to the found footage gimmick, they’re pretty happy to bend the rules in service of making things more fun. That’s fine, but it also kind of negates the whole point. I wrote a whole bunch about the found footage conceit and it’s strengths and weaknesses when I was reviewing these, if you’re interested:

    VHS Part 1:

    VHS Part 2:

  304. First of all: Great job on those reviews, man, good stuff.

    Second: I think the difference of perspective is that I really don’t give a shit about “found footage” as an avenue for the genre. In fact, the thing I maybe liked best about VHS 2 is that it uses the conceit to get you into the story, than barely even bothers with it.

    Third: I guess I’m just out on Ti West. HOUSE OF THE DEVIL was OK, but INNKEEPERS annoyed me and his VHS segment made me outright angry. I really LOVE the movie he’s trying to make, I just don’t think he actually knows how to make that movie. He seems to believe that uninteresting people do nothing for extended periods of time counts as “generating suspense.” He is wrong.

  305. Why is there no discussion of The Raid 2 here? Am I the only one who has seen it?

    For the record, I thought the movie was amazing. It was a bit bloated (I mean, 2 1/2 hours? really?) but holy crap does this movie ever deliver where it counts. The action scenes were real stunners, especially the prison riot in the mud and the car chase/fight scene. Some of those stunts were unbelievable. Also really loved all (both) scenes with Hammer Girl and Baseball Bat Boy.

    It’s not as tight as the first movie, and it starts off pretty slow, really taking time to wrap up loose ends from the first film and set up all the new characters. They could easily chop out 5-10 minutes here just by removing the connections to the first movie. Because after the first 15 minutes, there’s basically no connection to the first film. It really would work better to let the movie just stand on it’s own.

    But I loved it and I can’t wait to watch it again. As with the first film, I had a great crowd to watch it with. On all the really brutal hits you’d here everyone in the theater reacting out loud. Not quite to the degree as the first movie (where people were literally standing up cheering by the end of the Mad Dog fight) but this movie is best experienced with an audience of like-minded action enthusiasts.

    Go see it if you haven’t already!

  306. The Raid 2 is only in limited release right now. It opens wider this weekend, I’m looking forward to it.

  307. Oh, really? I saw the release date as March 28 online and assumed that meant everywhere. I always forget that LA gets some movies before the rest of the country/world.

    Well then, I will come back here this weekend to discuss. I think we’re all going to have a lot to talk about. Maybe I’ll even go watch it again as a refresher.

  308. And some parts of the world doesn´t get them at all. *bitter and resentful swede*.

  309. The Undefeated Gaul

    April 10th, 2014 at 1:06 am

    Have to wait until goddamn July over here…

  310. I saw it. I likes it but was perhaps more wearied by the excessive length than you, MacReady. The plot was just too generic to sustain such indulgence without anything particularly new being brought to it, but the action scenes are indeed things of beauty. It’s just not the elegant machine its predecessor was.

  311. Agreed on the plot being fairly generic. The story certainly doesn’t justify the run time. I have to assume that they thought they were making a huge, epic crime drama like Heat, but the end result never feels like it achieves that scale. I would have much preferred a running time under two hours. But even so, I don’t think I ever got bored with the movie after the first half hour or so. Of course I was already kind of on an action high because I watched this as the second part of a double-feature with Sabotage. (the two movies complemented each other nicely, by the way)

    I’d also like to point out that this movie really should not be called “The Raid” since nothing that could be considered a raid ever takes place. I assume they changed the title (and tied the characters to the first film) because that probably made it easier to secure funding. But I would still prefer a version that cut all those ties and stood on its own.

  312. It just came out today in Dallas and I just got back from the first screening. I’m not sure what the issue is you had with the length because I didn’t even realize the film was 2.5 hours until I walked out of the theater in a daze. I don’t have enough superlatives for this movie. All I can say is it’s rare when you have unrealistically high expectations for something and it exceeds them. This was one of those rare times. This movie topped The Raid in all shapes and forms, and I walked into the movie with the opinion that The Raid was the best action flick of the new millennium. This was one of the singular moviegoing experiences of my life. The closest thing I can compare it to is the first time I saw Pulp Fiction in a theater. Except with more ass-kicking.

  313. I don’t know where to put this so the Cinepocolypse Movie Festival at the Music Box in Chicago is coming in November and one of the movies is Jailbreak. The Cambodian action movie that could be this years “The Raid” or at worst this years “Maranteu”

    Also Joe Carnahan looks to be putting together some 35mm films as part of some “Blood Guts Bullets and Octane” thing so I’m going to assume action movies. Come to Chicago in November guys.

    oh and the new Suspiria print.

  314. Has anyone seen the trailer for Takashi Miike’s BLADE OF THE IMMORTAL? It looks just as crazy as you might expect. It’s apparently his 100th film.

  315. I liked the trailer and am looking forward to it. I remember reading the comic back in the day and enjoying it. Now that I think of it I don’t think I ever finished it. Guess I should change that before it comes out internationally.

  316. Beyond Skyline is set to debut at the Music Box in Chicago as part of the Cinepocolypse genre film festival in the beginning of November. They are also showing the Larry Cohen documentary with Larry Cohen there. There is a live podcast of Eric Roberts of the Fucking Man with Eric Roberts doing it and they’re showing The Ambulence which was directed by Larry Cohen starring Eric Roberts.

    Plus they are showing Jailbreak which I’m going to for sure.

    I can’t see Beyond Skyline though because I’ll be at mother fucking John Carpenter live!!


  317. I said elsewhere that APOSTLE is my most anticipated of the year and how I am really disappointed it’s gonna be on Netflix. Neither of those points is weakened by this trailer:

  318. I’ve just finished Gareth Evans’ Gangs of London which dropped yesterday in the UK in its entirety. It is going to be right up your street Vern. It has hands down the best action I’ve ever seen in a tv show, and so much more besides. There is an extended set piece midway through that puts any other show or movie to shame. I’m going to watch all 9.5 hours again very soon I loved it that much.

  319. What’s the ratio of action to TV bullshit?

  320. By tv bullshhit do you mean character development and dialogue?

  321. The Undefeated Gaul

    April 30th, 2020 at 2:04 am

    I finished GANGS OF LONDON as well last night. The quality of the action is indeed insane for a TV show, although that really only goes for three big, memorable sequences, all directed by Gareth Evans – and he only directed 2 out of the 9 episodes. So to answer your question Mr. M – I don’t think you’re going to like the ratio. There’s other fights and shootouts throughout but they don’t stand out as much – maybe only because the violence is pretty extreme, which I did appreciate, but not because of the action filmatism involved.

    Besides that, even the biggest Evans-directed set-piece (the whole of episode 5, which is like a mini siege movie all on its own) didn’t fully land with me. It serves no story purpose and the only characters involved are ones we don’t know or don’t care about. At first I thought it was about introducing a mysterious new group of powerful villains who would become a threat to the main characters later on, but no… by the end of the episode almost all of them are gone. Admittedly though, the action is top notch. Evans really is on a whole other level when it comes to this stuff and had I cared about the characters involved, this would have been an all-time classic TV episode, on par with the best battle episodes of GoT.

    As for the TV bullshit, or story/characters – it’s a mixed bag. Initially I enjoyed the hell out of it, as there’s all these fun colorful characters (mostly well cast, with the exception of the weak sauce main character), the violence is hardcore and mean-spirited in a good way, and the “Who killed the gangster boss?” hook kept me engaged. But then in the last three episodes it all kind of deflates and TV bullshit takes over completely. There’s no good action anymore, there’s no resolution to anything and suddenly everything is just a weak set up for the next season (that I have no interest in watching).

    Overall I’m still glad I saw it. There’s a couple of truly memorable moments and sequences that I wouldn’t want to have missed, and clearly I care enough to write this much about it. But man, that last stretch of episodes is frustrating. What a waste of something that could have been just a really cool, self-contained gangster story.

  322. Yeah, that’s about what I figured. TV gotta TV. That’s why I never get excited when great filmmakers make TV. There will be moments when their cinematic talents will be allowed to shine, but in the end, the format will always defeat them.

    I do want to see that fifth episode though. A Garth Evans action set-piece is a thing worth seeing in any context. What are the other two big action scenes, if you don’t mind me asking?

  323. The Undefeated Gaul

    April 30th, 2020 at 5:20 am

    Well, maybe “big” isn’t the right word for the other two since they’re much smaller scale, but the Evans magic is there. The first is a 1 VS 8 pub brawl where faces and limbs get destroyed left and right and people get stabbed sixty times with darts. It’s joyful. There’s a lot of footage of this scene in the trailer.

    The other is a 1 VS 1 fight where the same guy as above has to take on a huge, scary dude with a meat cleaver in a nightmarish basement. It’s a long fight where you can really feel the fear of the main dude, and it’s brutal as hell. Great finishing move too – another thing Evans does like no other.

  324. I saw one episode that had a really long fight with a guy vs a dude with an axe. I thought the choreography in that was really cool.

  325. The Undefeated Gaul

    April 30th, 2020 at 11:21 am

    Yeah that one wasn’t bad either, but for me not entirely on the same level. Definitely a less satisfying ending.

  326. Cool, I’ll have to see the whole series, I only caught that one. If other fights are better than that one, wow. I think shows like this can tend to be ponderous when they don’t have enough humor. This one seems generally pretty dour which is why I love a show like Justified…it’s got plenty of drama but the writing is so sharp and funny too.

  327. I heard Wu Assassins was a big disappointment. That true?

  328. I watched a little more than half of WU ASSASSINS and checked out. It was boring as Hell.

    I watched the first episode of GANGS OF LONDON and it was badass. The cleaver fight was great. It will take me a while to get through the whole season since I can’t really watch it with a 7 year old running around.

    On a completely unrelated note, I have been watching THE MARVELOUS MRS. MAISEL on Amazon with my wife. I think it is by far the best tv show of the last 5 years or so. The writing, acting and jokes are so good but visually it is one of the best looking things I’ve ever seen on a screen. The cinematography, costumes, sets, colours, the 60s atmosphere, are all amazing. It looks a million times better than MAD MEN and is much less boring (I only saw one season of MAD MEN, maybe the later ones were less boring?). I would highly recommend that one even though nobody gets an ashtray forcefully fed to them.

  329. Wu Assassins was horrible. Not just boring, it was terrible in almost every other way too. The ONLY good thing about it is, it looks like that bunch FINALLY figured out how to do group fights that aren’t just ten people standing there and the good guy taking on one guy…leaving himself wide open and taking forever to take out the one guy. Now this happens in movies, but the hero doesn’t usually take SO LONG, leaing his back wide open forever while the bad guys just stare. In Wu they actually have 2-3 guys attack at once and it worked great.

    No one has done better group fights than Jackie. No matter how many guys were coming at him, he was always able to make it seem natural. Even 100 guys with hatchets in Drunken Master 2, he still pulls it off like the fucking boss.

  330. I was enjoying Wu Assassin’s at the beginning for the most part but then like half way it becomes patently clear a new show runner came in and then it really went from ‘aight to downright unwatchable.

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