The Raid is one of the least compromising action franchises to emerge in recent years and the over-the-top martial arts mayhem is the primary reason the series is so beloved. However, that level of violence isn’t for everyone, which may be why the team is experimenting with some new ideas that should be a little more accessible. Director Gareth Evans has released a new five-minute scene to see if he can maintain the frenetic style and pace of The Raid within the confines of a more family-friendly PG-13 rating (we can’t embed it, so you’ll have to head over to YouTube to watch the scene in full).
The short black-and-white clip is set in a time of civil war and chronicles the exploits of a messenger conveying a peace treaty between two rival lords. Things go awry when two assassins attempt to intercept the message, leading to a wonderful samurai sword fight with some clever use of props and at least one face that will be familiar to fans of The Raid.
Does Evans pull it off? I’d say so. The clip lacks the polish of his feature length productions but, well, it’s test footage. The whole thing was put together in a week without a crew – Evans and the actors were the only people on set – so that’s to be expected. Shot on location in Wales, the film uses close ups and clever camera work to hide what would be the worst of the gore and manages to deliver some great action that doesn’t require any exposed brain matter or arterial spray.
Having said that, part of me hopes that Evans will keep the R-rating moving forward. It’s not so much that I need to see blood in every action movie as much as it is that Evans does violence particularly well. The fights in The Raid films have a greater sense of impact. The violence has consequences (usually in the form of broken bones) that set it apart from other films, and I’d rather have something that feels a little more unique when there are dozens of safer action movies already dotting local multiplexes.
It’s also a little ironic to see Evans doing his tamest work while using his deadliest weapons. I kept waiting for someone’s hand to get cut off as soon as the samurai swords started flying. That never happens here and you don’t miss it – Evans is a great action director and I’m quite certain that he could put together an awesome PG-13 movie – but there is something to be said for the judicious use of violence in entertainment.