Last week a friend and I headed to the movies to check out the new Indonesian action film film The Raid, we had heard good things and were keen to see if the praise was deserved or not. Upon emerging from the cinema we were both in agreement - it was very impressive and very brutal. Not very surprising. However, what made this viewing unique was that I am currently living in Jakarta and as such the film featured no subtitles.
I cannot speak Indonesian, so I literally cold not understand a single word anyone in the film said. All I could do was watch. This of course, as I later discovered, led to my misinterpretation of some of the events depicted in the film and basically meant that as I watched The Raid I ignored any semblance of story completely, instead I simply watched for the visceral action. Of which there is an abundance.
In doing so I found that I gleaned a unique appreciation for the film. As the spectacular fight scenes escalated I found myself engrossed not in why characters where fighting, but how. I marveled at the intricate choreography, the precise timing and the raw physical power on display. As the scenes progressed and the bodies piled up I found myself caring less and less about story, I stopped trying to piece things together in my head and instead just watched. The screen became all movement and flow. The camera dancing through a bloody and violent ballet of knees, fists and heads. And that's when it dawned on me - The Raid is perhaps one of the most beautifully choreographed dance films I have ever seen.