Hollywood is culturally important for achieving cinematic history in the medium of film through storytelling. So it is no surprise that other mediums of story telling (TV, Video Games, Graphic Novels) are also getting equally competitive and rivaling the movie industry on quality in story. However, I believe that Hollywood really only starts stepping it's game up in a certain genre when somebody from their own respective field makes something that overshadows their own work.
Recently movies have been making a comeback with exploring some very strong thematic narratives that achieve artistic merits, technical wonder, captivating performances, and thrilling new approaches to the classic medium of filmmaking in the action genre. I am of course not speaking of anything that the Film Industry has achieved(in the last decade) but rather a small independent film that was able to put itself on the map and was able to entertain us in ways that big Hollywood blockbusters just simply could not at the time. I am speaking of The Raid: Redemption. An Indonesia, small budget, independent film that was released in 2011 and directed by Gareth Evans Huw.
So let's please stop pretending that any of the Expendables movies are worth their own weight, that anything with big action stars has quality in filmmaking (even though their fun to watch), or that anything with a fighting scene is anything but, and is just quick-cut editing, shaky cam non-sense that we the audience allow to flood our theaters by supporting them. But when this foreign independent film came out of the woodworks, they took over the very platform and name of action movies, while simultaneously putting to shame all of our domestic action films.
Now if you have not experienced the great film that is the Raid, don't worry people are still just discovering it and if you enjoyed what they were able to capture and achieve with (reminder) this small budget action movie. They already came out with a sequel that only obliterates any doubt of the major talent that was behind the first installment. Seeing that this time they have a bigger budget which grants the movie more opportunities to explore in the sequel. Which when the first one was released had limited marketing, release dates, and production. But the fact that this movie was able to find it's own audience, really speaks volumes of the film and how enough people saw this but was enough to make a worthy sequel. Which is the advantage that Hollywood studios have in the big blockbuster, if it has big names attached to it. The movie will sell, but the Raid didn't have that going for itself which makes this scenario much more interesting.
The Raid did something impressive, that surprisingly was not achieved by a major Hollywood studio. Not only that, but made (some) us realize just how lazy and boring our action movies have become. Where they resort to loud and shiny things occurring on screen. Which is all I can really say about some of our recent and present take on action movies, unlike what the Raid did which had a believable scenarios, obstacles, and an engaging build up that pays off to a massive final fight. When experiencing the film, there are moments of impending doom, uncertainty in the the fate of our characters and how their journey will unfold. Really good stuff for an action movie.
Which is not something I can say about any other movie that came out before The Raid or immediately right after as well. So when this film was seen by people and started holding up standards that this film created (almost challenging), big Hollywood studios had to respond to that, not because of the craft or to be able to create something great. They are doing it for the money, because at the end of the day, Hollywood is an industry. An industry with a competitive profits in the MILLIONS, I mean Jurassic World recently just broke records with earning $500 Million (adjusting inflation) dollars on Opening Weekend. Why would a studio pass up that kind of opportunity to make that kind of money?
So of course if you have noticed, there have been some spectacular action packed movies in past few years. That really seem like the production behind it had been prioritized for the films.
- To name a few in 2014,
Guardians of the Galaxy
Edge of Tomorrow
X-Men: Days of Future Past
Dawn of the Planet of the Apes
The Raid 2
- Then in 2015 we were able to experience,
Mad Max: Fury Road (A personal favorite)
Kingsman: The Secret Service
Mission Impossible: Rogue Nation
List may be short only because the year isn't over.
- However there were definitely some studio execs that think they can still get away with the lazy action movie as it is evident in this year.
Hitman: Agent 47
The Transporter Refueled
There are of course exceptions on these lists other films that were released either before or prior to the Raid's release, such as The Man from Nowhere, Oldboy, Snowpiercer, Dredd (Which has a similar premise to The Raid), Inception, and of course many others.
So above all, we still have movies to look forward too, that will hopefully embrace action with a clear narrative that doesn't befall to being loud and shiny. Films that will stand against the test of time, and if not, then make your own film and embarrass the hell out of Hollywood.