It’s very rare that a film wears its influences on its sleeve like Russian Raid does. Even in the description of the plot on IMDB the film is said to be inspired by Gareth Evans’ The Raid. It’s like calling all the Bourne films “American James Bond”. Sadly though, Indonesian The Raid this is not…
Russian Raid is (funnily enough) a Russian action thriller. It’s about a disavowed special forces operative who’s hired by a shady businessman to take over a liquor factory. As Nikita (the operative) continues to take out the factory’s security, he starts to discover some dark secrets.
The main reason that anyone would even think about watching this film is for the action. That Russian Raid does indeed provide. Quite a lot of it in fact. What’s more, the old adage of quality over quantity is still followed. None of the action scenes are terrible and are clearly professionally choreographed. The fight scenes at the beginning, however, are ruined by the frankly awful soundtrack. Nikita is helped by a group of thugs in his assault on the factory. Whenever this gang is involved in a fight, the composer kicks in some dreadful dubstep music.
The proof that the music destroys these scenes is shown later in the film when fight scenes have more traditional (if a little bland) action music. The fights also get a lot better when guns become involved in the third act. For the majority of the beginning of the titular raid, guns are nowhere to be seen. This is presumably to show off these martial artists’ skills. Unfortunately, it seems slightly contrived that no one involved would be carrying at least a pistol.
The action is where the film’s merits end. Most of the starring actors are MMA fighters, weightlifters, and the like. So, yes, they’re very good at fighting, but their acting is much to be desired. Most will hammer out their lines and show their emotions either so subtly it’s unreadable or so over the top that your screen will shake when they speak. What doesn’t help this is the script is written so badly that it’s hard to believe an actual screenwriter had anything to do with it.
You have to give the benefit of the doubt sometimes when talking about foreign film scripts. Something could be lost in translation. Or the translator hired for the subtitles could be bad at English. Either way, films like Amelie still manage to be beautifully written despite being translated. So this is not an excuse to hide behind.
Technically, Russian Raid is just about competent. This is in the sense that there aren’t obvious continuity errors or things like that. However, sometimes the editing is really janky, weird effects are used a few times. One example is the frame turning abruptly on every hit in one particular fight. They’re meant to look cool but just come off as weird.
If you want a film PURELY for action, you may be satisfied with Russian Raid. But if you want an actual good film with action in, then look somewhere else.
Dir: Denis Kryuchkov
Scr: Denis Kryuchkov, Olga Loyanich, Robert Orr
Cast: Ivan Kotik, Vladimir Mineev, Ilya Antonenko, Nikita Kologrivyy
Prd: Alexander Kalushkin, Denis Kryuchkov, Sofia Kvashilava, Olga Loyanich, Andrey Lyakhov
DOP: Alexey Sedov
Music: Information unavailable
Runtime: 102 mins
Russian Raid is available on Blu-ray from 22nd March