Russian Raid is a 2020 action film directed by first time director Denis Kryuchov. The film sets Nikta (played by Ivan Kotik) on a warpath after he witnesses his father’s murder. Years after the event, he has managed to track down the man responsible, but the only way to get to him is to draw him out by raiding the missile factory where Nikta’s father was killed.
Although there are several fights sequences, this movie lacks a sense of engagement or a plot long enough to warrant a runtime of 103 minutes.
Kryuchov’s film is inspired by Gareth Evans’ The Raid: Redemption and it shows. The fights are well-choreographed, taking place in a limited location with a couple of eye-catching environments, however the plot and the pacing of this movie reminds me more of The Raid 2 in that there’s a lot of waiting around for the next action beat. Although this is typical for action movies, Russian Raid doesn’t have a balanced rhythm.
The plot of this movie should be a simple revenge story; however, it gets bogged down by additional plot points which seem to have been inserted to make the villain appear like the head of a clandestine crime syndicate. Unfortunately, by the time the movie works its way through four or five levels of enforcers, it all feels unnecessarily long and complicated – not to mention the various characters the movie introduces and doesn’t use. For example, a character reveals they’re really an undercover cop, but they neither provide backup to Nikita nor do anything useful. They’re literally useless.
In any event, most audiences are here for the fight sequences. The choreography has a dance-like fluidity, which is no surprise considering that Kotik has a training montage which features the stuntman dancing. But it’s really the tracksuit-wearing-beatboxing-rapping thugs who steal the show. Their fighting style is much less refined than Kotik’s, but their large number fight sequences and dirty fighting tactics provide a much more entertaining experience.
One thing I couldn’t figure out was whether the movie used speed ramping to exaggerate the energy of the punches and kicks or whether it was done through editing by removing a frame or two. The technique was clearly being used to emphasize the action, but it actually ended up being more of a distraction.
If nothing else, Russian Raid is an impressive demo reel for all the fighters involved – a lot of the talent in film come from the world of MMA (mixed marital arts) – which raises the question, why not frame the action like John Wick or The Raid: Redemption and use a wide shot to showcase the various fighting techniques naturally instead of using an effect that made it look like a cheap gimmick?
ADDITIONAL COMMENTS: The Big Comic Page was provided a preview copy of the film and the disc does not contain any bonus material except a trailer for Russian Raid and other upcoming movies.
Russian Raid is available on Digital, Blu-Ray and DVD March 9, 2021.
The writer of this piece is: Laurence Almalvez
Laurence tweets from @IL1511