• Raid, The

    Released by Well Go USA Entertainment
    Released on: October 13, 2015
    Directed by: Ching Su-tung and Tsui Hark
    Cast: Dean Shek, Jacky Cheung, Fennie Yuen, Tony Leung
    Year: 1991
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    The Movie:

    A group of Chinese soldiers have been inflicted by nerve gas and the only doctor that can be found for help is the elderly Dr. Choi (Dean Shek). Together with motley crew of allies, the soldiers and Choi team-up to find the plant producing the nerve gas and destroy it. Along the way they run into trouble in the form of the new Manchurian government, which has been established by Emperor Puyi and Commander Mesa.

    The Raid is an action-comedy film from Hong Kong directed by Ching Su-tung and Tsui Hark based on the Uncle Choi comic series by Michael Hui. The film is not completely successful, but there is enough worthwhile and enjoyable elements to make The Raid an easy recommendation. The film’s greatest asset is without a doubt the cast. Each cast member is quite good and appealing. The heroes are immensely likable and worth rooting for, while the villains, while never truly threatening, are evil and dastardly enough to want to see them defeated. The aspect of the cast that is most apparent is the chemistry shared between each performer. The actors seem at ease playing off each other and this elevates a lot of the film’s often predictable and stale humor. A joke involving an accidentally passed around, mistakenly attributed love letter becomes fresh and smile-inducing precisely because the cast makes the old joke work. While I am not sure any one performer is a scene stealer, Shek, Jacky Cheung, and Chiu Man-yan were all very memorable.

    In addition to the acting, the film’s visual element was also strong. The Raid had an artificial, almost cartoony look which matched the film’s comic origins. The look of the film also prevented some of The Raid’s darker, more serious moments, like scenes of soldiers being poisoned, from diminishing the film’s predominately comic tone. Despite being a kind of historic fiction, The Raid’s set design kept the film anchored in a fantasy world which matched the action and characters. To compliment the film’s visuals, directors Siu-tung and Hark employed visual nods to the comic medium. Panels, illustrations, and “page turns” were employed throughout the film to signify transitions from one scene to another. While these effects were cute and appropriate, I do not feel they were used enough. It seems as though the directors held back in employing the comic book effects by using them sporadically, thus making them feel half-baked rather than fully realized.

    The script was another area in which the film felt half-baked. The entire film had an episodic feel which made the overall story seem disjointed. Throughout The Raid I had difficulty keeping the plot together. Certain characters are not give a full background, like Puyi and his connection to the Japanese, making motivation and allegiance hard to decipher. It is possible that had I came to the film with a fuller understanding of the Chinese-Japanese history during World War II none of this would have been a problem. While I had some problems with the script, I found no disappointment with the action. The Raid features a nice selection of action set pieces ranging from hand-to-hand combat to aerial attacks to gun battles to sword fights. Each set piece was nicely choreographed and shot. Shek probably was given the biggest set pieces to show off his skills. He was given a number of fun wire stunts. The numerous gun battles were immensely bloody which was rather shocking for such a comedic film.

    Overall The Raid is no classic, but is still a lot fun. The performers are the film’s highlights. They make everything come alive. They make the humor funnier and the characters more humane. There was an ongoing theme of not overlooking the elderly which was rather interesting but I do not feel the directors fully explored the concept of ageism to make that aspect fully successful. As is, Dr. Choi’s comments about being looked over due to age do not add up to much more than just a character tick.


    Well Go USA Entertainment bring The Raid to DVD with a passable 1.75:1 image. The picture has some scratches and wear but is not horrible. The image is pretty faded, none of the colors pop which is a shame considering the film’s source material is a comic book. The audio, which is Cantonese 5.1 Dolby Digital and Cantoese 2.0 Stereo, is good. The dialogue and sound effects are mixed well. The dialogue is always audible and the numerous explosions sound good. The music seems weak, but that is probably more due to the actual score than the audio. The Raid’s score is really one of the worst I have ever heard. It is very weak and does not match the care put into the film’s visuals. There is a musical sequence in the film that falls flat because the song sounds like it was performed by some guy using a CASIO SA-46 mini-keyboard he bought at K-Mart. The disc is given English subtitle options.

    Well Go USA did not stock the release with many extra features. We are given the film’s original theatrical trailer, which is quite fun, and trailers for three other releases from Well Go USA: Wolf Warrior, The Taking of Tiger Mountain, and Eastern Bandits.

    The Final Word:

    The Raid is a pretty cute film. It is an easy watch with lots of humor and action. The cast is great and do a wonderful job at making the film worthwhile. This is not a great film by any means but it is a lot of fun to watch.