Fight scenes are the bread and butter of the action scene, without properly executed fight choreography the movie can seem stale or in the worst cases comical. Recently foreign films have made a place for themselves in the action genre for their fast pace and expert martial arts action scenes. The film to have started the breakout of international action films into popular streaming services such as Netflix was the raid series. The raid series is an Indonesian film that came as a breath of fresh air amidst all of the consistent bullet loving and explosion riddled garbage that Hollywood had been producing. The movie depended on the genuine skills of their stunt coordinators rather than supplementing special effects and shaky camera work and the result is a fast-paced roller coaster of combat. The series fight coordination was led by Iko Uwais and Yayan Ruhian who are experts in the Indonesian martial art of silat as well as a slew of other disciplines to bring variety to their craft. I will be giving my review on a fight scene from the second installment of the series between Iko Uwais character and a duo who will be referred to as bat man and hammer girl after their weapons of choice. I will be basing my appraisal of the fight scene off my 10 years of practice in MMA and traditional martial arts such as karate, jiujitsu, and judo. The scene will be graded off 3 categories on a scale of 1-10 for realism, execution of the scene, and finally overall appeal.
For reference, I will be using this clip to base my judgment https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SHt6sYe9w9M&t=28s
The scene starts off with Iko’s character dispatching a pair of thugs quickly with quick strikes and counters where he grabs a kick brings down a vertical elbow strike onto his opponent’s thigh area. Ideally, he would have struck his knee causing damage to the joint which would be the weakest area on the leg but likely due to not wanting to accidentally injure the stuntman opted for the thigh. He then tosses the thug quickly to the ground to address the other opponent which he had brought to his knees by knocking him out with a front kick to the head. He then walks to the other and repeatedly stomps his chest and stomach to ensure his victory. In a fight against two, it is important to make your moves quick in order to deal with two attackers simultaneously. He cannot continue fighting one person as the other will quickly join and the two will overwhelm him. The throw disorients his opponent and causes him to spend time and energy to get up giving Iko time to deal with his partner. The double-tap at the end is a smart and realistic choice of a veteran fighter who does not want to risk the chance of a downed opponent returning to the fight. He then turns the corner to dodge a struck baseball and face off against the weapon-wielding duo. Right off the bat (pun intended), there are several issues, Iko’s character had been fighting against waves of thugs throughout the building however he shows little fatigue or damage. He moves with explosive energy throughout the fight which is uncharacteristic of a man who has fought dozens of fights and has received severe blows in the span of 30 minutes. Professional mma fighters often feel the full brunt of exhaustion by the 3rd to 4th round which makes them become more sluggish and sloppy. Fighters will drop their hands or drag their feet causing only to come alive with sharp precise movements at crucial times such as countering a blow after a block. This fight lacked that sudden burst of energy that comes when your main gas tank has been depleted, instead, exhaustion is shown with panting. Another criticism is the positioning of the hammer girl and bat man duo, the two had been expecting Iko to appear so they chose to fight him in a somewhat narrow corridor rather than in an area with larger space such as the kitchen behind them. The corridor gives a disadvantage to the duo as they cannot utilize the full range of their weapons for fear of hitting each other or colliding with a wall that may place them in danger. The duo does move and attack in a way that forces Iko to be between them which is an ideal strategy since he will be forced to defend from two sides constantly. To open a window of opportunity he uses throws and grappling to spin his opponent to face their partner causing them to stop their attack or risk-friendly fire. Despite the negatives mentioned the scene moves in a fluid way using practical moves that any fighter would execute in order to maximize their chances of victory.
The entire scene is flowing in a fluid motion with minimal use of cuts so the audience can feel that this was a real fight. None of the movements used by the actors seemed unnecessary or flashy for the sake of wowing the audience. The moves used could be applied to a real fight and have practical application. Iko uses hand movements similar to the kung fu drills on the wooden dummy, he is seen using this drill when dealing with hammer girl in order to parry her swings in order to get behind and throw her with a single leg trip. When Iko is on the ground he uses a kick to the ankle to sweep hammer girl and a scissor sweep on bat man. Being able to maintain speed and technique while on the ground is hard to pull off even with practice. My favorite moment comes when the bat man manages to hold Iko with the bat while hammers are being aimed at his feet forcing him to step quickly to avoid them. He then slips under bat man to push him towards the hammers forcing hammer girl to stop her attack. That scene shows the creativity of the stunt team to introduce a unique escape and counter when faced with unconventional weapons. The teams’ talent is continued to be shown when the swings of the weapon-wielding show no hesitation. In sparring sessions, it is a common mistake to intentionally miss your partner in order to not injure them. The stunt team swings without worry giving the genuine feeling as if Iko was in actual danger which keeps the audience entertained.
From start to finish there is a high level of stress and intensity between the group of fighters, Iko is facing off against two armed opponents where a single mistake can cost him the fight. The choice of weaponry of the duo is interesting as well, the bat can be swung from a further distance but is much weaker up close while the hammer requires to maintain close distance with the opponent. Throughout the fight bat man always plays a crucial role in maintaining the attention of the audience, even if he is sent to the ground he comes back up ready to swing. The bat can easily end end the fight if he can land a single swing which raises the stakes and keeps me hooked on watching. Hammer girl uses her weapon similar to the kamas which are a pair of sickles, she uses the hooked ends to lock his hands in place and then pulls causing gnarly cuts and tears with the claw end. Each blow landed feels and sounds as brutal as it looks the headbutts that Iko delivered through a shoulder and elbow throw after evading swing after swing of the bat had my heart rate through the roof. However, the hammer girl lands a hit on Iko’s leg bringing him to his knees where she uses the claw ends to rip into his chest. In the end, Iko defeats them in a brutal and gory fashion by using the hammer claw on hammer girl and slamming the bat into the bat mans jaw. The climax was pure gratuitous violence meant to cement Iko’s victory and to release the stress of the audience so they could celebrate his win. The final blows caused me to cringe with how graphic the scene was but I couldn’t help to applaud when all was said and done.
The raid 2 is chock-full of amazing fight scenes and this scene is no exception despite some flaws in the realism of the scene the fight is an exceptional showcase of the stunt teams skill. Do yourself a favor and watch the individual fight scenes and appreciate the subtle nuances of the combat techniques used. Each movement has a purpose and they build up to an amazing climactic ending where the victor is decided.
By: Arman Azad