The Raid (a.k.a The Raid: Redemption), 2011.
Written and Directed by Gareth Evans.
Starring Iko Uwais, Ananda George, Doni Alamsyah, Yayan Ruhian, Joe Taslim and Ray Sahetapy.
Deep in the heart of one of Jakarta’s most deprived slums stands a gang-controlled 30 floor high-rise apartment block. A SWAT team must infiltrate this building in order to remove its leader, the drug baron Tama and his vicious underlings.
The phrase ‘tour de force’ could have been invented for The Raid. Writer-director Gareth Evans’ film is a slick, brutal and intricately crafted adrenaline rush of a movie, and one that deserves all of the praise heaped upon it on its cinematic release earlier this year. Now arriving triumphantly to home viewing, this supremely hi-octane thriller can be viewed a little closer; if that is, you don’t even think about blinking.
The uncomplicated storyline is emphatically linear and goal driven, and keeps any extraneous plot or characterisation firmly out of the way. This is not to downplay the quality on show; it is merely an observation that this is fundamentally a return to 80s style action movies and martial arts pictures of the Hong Kong/China school, where the fights, stunts and action are absolutely everything. This coupled with the relatively swift running time of 101 minutes ensures that this is an unforgettable experience that hits hard, fast and with deadly force.
Following a SWAT team tasked with the job of rooting out a violent criminal gang and their leader Tama (Ray Sahetapy), The Raid takes us through balletic and frenetic fight scene after fight scene. Things look pretty bleak for the cops fairly early on, as they become outnumbered and outgunned. Luckily for them, one of their number is the pumped up Rama, (Iko Uwais) who we first meet doing chin-ups and sit-ups in the early dawn apartment that he shares with his pregnant partner. He has the speed, power and survival instinct to see him to the top, even when the odds are so heavily stacked against him…
Rama’s (and many of the fighters on show) combative technique is called Pencak Silat, an Indonesian style known for its close range style, knife use and acrobatic speed. Evans has stated that he became fascinated by the martial art a few years ago and has since become something of an expert, co-choreographing fight scenes with former champion fighter Uwais.
As a side-point, it is interesting to note how many similarities The Raid shares with another recent success, Dredd 3D. Both are lean, fast moving 80s style flicks featuring a police attack on a tower block in the slums. Both blocks have been taken over by a rabid gang led by a psychopath. Both films feature a high quality techno inspired soundtrack and both feature corrupt ‘cops gone bad’ figures. However, the other massive differences between the two would suggest coincidence, and if anything the two vastly different textures of the movies complement each other if anything.
The hugely effective soundtrack from Mike Shinoda and Joe Trapanese is a hard pitched techno that thankfully sounds nothing like Shinoda’s band-mates Linkin Park. As a complete piece it highlights and works incredibly well with the stunning action sequences on screen.
A fist full of extras comes with the disc, the best of which are a lively and involved commentary track from Evans, a manga style trailer, a claymation version of the film from talented animator Lee Hardcastle and an examination on the work of Shinoda and Trapanese. All in all, a quality release for a high quality movie.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★
Robert W Monk is a freelance journalist and film writer.