Russian Raid (2020)

Posted in Reviews by - March 06, 2021
Russian Raid (2020)

As the conspicuous title would suggest, this is advertised as a Russian version of The Raid, drawing unfortunate comparisons to what is essentially a modern martial arts masterpiece. In the film’s defence, the title is only really relevant in a small number of details; its largely single-set location, heist premise and succession of hand-to-hand combat scenes. It never once comes close to recreating The Raid‘s sense of anxiety, creativity, or heart-pounding energy. It follows Nikita (played by stunt performer Ivan Kotik), a zen-like lone-wolf military man who keeps fit by Cossack dancing and pounding log cabins with his bare hands. He’s on a quest to avenge the death of his father, killed at the hands of a Russian mafia kingpin. He leads a young team of MMA thugs on an initially benign takeover of one of the kingpin’s factories, taking out its security with minimal bloodshed, before the big boss catches wind of the sting and all hell breaks loose. There’s an interesting generational power struggle at the heart of the story, in which the aged criminal fraternity who first came to dominance following the fall-out from the Soviet Union display a deeply held skepticism about the hotheaded youth of today – a sentiment which is more than reciprocated. However, because Nikita’s motivation is purely personal, the story never fully engages with the operation he is trying to undermine. The cast is mostly made up of testosterone-fuelled MMA fighters with a few stand-outs worthy of your attention. Vladimir Mineev is a kickboxing champ who looks a bit like Tom Hardy after a few rounds with Conor McGregor – he carries off a brotherly charm rather nicely. The star, Ivan Kotik, is very watchable with great physicality, poise and presence as an action lead. Unfortunately, the majority of the fight scenes in which they find themselves are severely lacking in any power or urgency, lumbered by a poor sound mix and a lack of camera movement. Instead, the stagey combat is either slightly sped-up or continually cut into in an attempt to retrofit a sense of energy. It’s the sort of issue which could have been addressed if the production had more time and money. As it stands, the cast make a decent enough effort, before the film decides to slump into more mundane Die Hard territory for the final act. If you’re looking for a really good The Raid rip-off, try instead the 2017 Cambodian film, Jailbreak.

Russian Raid is released on Blu-ray and digital in North America on 9 March 2021 courtesy of Well Go USA.

AKA: Russkiy Reyd.

This post was written by
Editor and creator of Kung Fu Movie Guide and the host of the Kung Fu Movie Guide Podcast. I live behind a keyboard in London, UK.

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