The Raid

Director: Gareth Evans
Starring: Iko Uwais, Joe Taslim, Donny Alamsyah, Yayan Ruhian Anada George and Ray Sahetapy
Released: May 18, 2012 

Click here for The Raid Official Trailer

It’s a rare and beautiful thing when it happens, but there are some films that when you leave the cinema, you find yourself a little out of breath. These films are clearly ones that were forged with breathtaking awesome. The kind of films that, when someone asks you what you thought of it, you can only really reply with: “…..damn.”

The plot:
In an attempt to capture a crime lord from his home turf, a SWAT team arrive in a tenement building. Things swiftly go wrong however, and the team find themselves trapped and surrounded, at all angles, by thieves, crooks and murderers.

It won’t win any awards for plot, The Raid is in many ways a simple film. Characters are quite basic and many of the plot developments are predictable. It would make a terrible novel, and any attempts at describing it to your friends will certainly end in failure. It isn’t a film of words, but a film of action. An action film, if you will.

You know that feeling when you think there’s an extra step at the top of your stairs, and your heart almost stops when you put your foot down too far? Well, The Raid is full of these moments. If tension were a piano, then Gareth Evans, the director, would be Mozart. Slow motion is used sparingly, never during the martial arts scenes, but with terrific effect. As well as this, some fun is had with the audio effects to really draw the audience into the situation, to give them a sense of hopelessness, as though they themselves were in the middle of the brawl.

When it isn’t showing off some incredible gun fights or martial arts, The Raid is magnificently atmospheric. The closed corridors infect the audience with a sense of claustrophobia, which is further intensified by scenes shot in almost total darkness. It is but a stones throw from the horror genre, though it is easily more intense than most of those. And of course, the film is terrifically shot. A great deal of emphasis is put on the grim reapers tools, with many extreme close-ups of guns, knives and machetes throughout, often when they are in use.

A particularly tense moment sees Rama (Uwais), the films protagonist, at the wrong end of a machete.The combination of the cinematography, sound effects and situation make it one of the most memorable moments of the film.

Uwais himself is something of a revelation. Doing all of his own stunts, his performance is strongly reminiscent of Tony Jaa, the star of the Ong-Bak martial arts films. The choreography is excellent, particularly impressive for the sheer scale of work that has clearly been put into it. With so many shallow characters, the director finds subtle little ways to make their fight scenes appear more impressive, such as having them take place on a long table, or possibly out of a window. Even more impressively, many of these fight scenes take place in one take, and with no CGI. This is proper old school badassery.

One or two characters get a chance to flex some acting muscle and, to do the actors credit, none of the performances are flawed. The drug lord Tama (Sahetapy) gets a few good scenes, while the captain and Sergeant of the SWAT team get a few emotional yells in there too. But it all boils down to the incredible action, and the intensity seems to just keep climbing right up to the finale. An intense martial arts flurry with bad guy, Mad Dog (Ruhian), lasts a good 8 minutes, something you’ll be aware of, but probably grateful for also.

 

Overall:
Knowing your strengths is an important part of film making, and something the crew behind The Raid clearly takes seriously. The plot and characters are basic, but this is essential in order to allow audience to take in the adrenaline pumping intensity of the action sequences. Anything you saw in The Avengers that you considered to be ‘a rush’ would probably count as a breather in this film. Beautifully shot and terrifically choreographed, Uwais and Evans have teamed up to make the finest action film of the year, and one of the greatest martial arts movies of all time.

Rating: 9/10

We’ve got company…” – Tama

Shamelessly Awful Facts:

  • The original title “Serbuan Maut” means Deadly Invasion in English.
  • So yeah, The Raid is awesome…..but it’s no Mortal Kombat: Annihilation. There’s not a single line with this kind of intensity!
  • Before he became an actor, Iko Uwais was a truck driver. Just a truck driver.
  • There is already talk of a remake of this film. Everybody, all together now…

This film is kind of like:

  • Die Hard, if you cast Bruce Lee as John McClane.

or

  • Watching a priceless Ming vase, which you said you’d look after for a rich friend, teeter on the edge of a table for an hour and a half
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