Movie Review: The RaidPosted: May 23, 2012
The best ideas are often the simple ones, and that definitely works with The Raid.
The film sees an elite 20 man squad of Jakarta’s finest mounting an attack on a tower block ran by a vicious druglord, Tama (Ray Sahetapy), who allows criminals to hole up there, safe from the police.
Amongst the cops on the raid is young, father-to-be Rama (Iko Uwais), the film’s protagonist. Initially the raid goes well, with the cops storming up the first 6 floors before they’re rumbled.
With their support outside eliminated and the building locked down they’re trapped, and Tama announces that anyone who eliminates the cops will be allowed to live there forever, rent free.
So the cops, outnumbered and surrounded, have to fight for survival against gangs of heavily armed criminals.
Along the way they find out more about the real reason for their mission and Rama’s personal motivations for wanting in on it.
As you can tell, plot wise its fairly basic, but that doesn’t stop it from being a belter of a movie.
The director, Welshman Gareth Edwards said in a recent interview that one of the big influences on this film was John Carpenter’s classic Assault on Precinct 13, which is one of my personal favourites, a wonderfully tense, claustrophobic thriller about a police station besieged by an insane gang. The influence is clear here, nowhere more obviously than in the pulsating soundtrack which is similar to Carpenter’s own minimalist score (check out the Assault On Precinct 13 theme, its up there with the Jaws music in terms of great film music in my opinion). But also in the way the tension is created, the cops have to hole up as wave after wave of attack comes at them.
Evans does great work in this, paricularly in one great scene where the cops crouch in the darkness as the criminals close in above them.
However, it differs greatly from the Carpenter film in the action seqiences. This film has some of the best fight work I’ve ever seen, with the fights having this great visceral feel, making the audience wince at some of the impacts.
The fast moving, brutal fights have a bone crunching edge to them and wonderful choreography, which means that despite the frantic pace and whirling and kicking you always know whats going on.
The fights are also wonderfully inventive, and for me, surprisingly new. As the hero, Uwais uses the Indonesian martial art silat, which was unfamiliar to me. It seems to be an adaptive, quick style that incorporates the high impact strikes of martial arts with tosses, flips and slams that seem similar to judo or even wrestling.
Some of the fight scenes are mesmerising, and all get the pulse racing. Too many action films of late have been a little dull, but here I was captivated throughout.
Its hard to pick one sequence that stands out as all are of extremely high quality, but for me, the two-on-one face off with the psychotic henchman, Mad Dog (a seriously intimidating Yayan Ruhian) is magnificent.
What I really loved about the action was that despite all the martial arts stuff it keeps this real down and dirty feel, and as well as kicks and spins there are moments of simple, vicious brawling. Different characters fight with different styles and I really dug that.
But does the film hold up away from the action- well, I think so.
Yes, we don’t get much of an intro to Rama before it all kicks off, but we get enough to get a sense of the man- praying, training and talking to his pregnant wife. Uwais has a wonderfully expressive, fresh faced appearance and conveys Rama’s compassion and integrity with ease, while also being entirely convincing when he needs to throw down.
The rest of the cops are largely anonymous although I did like the group’s badass leader, Jaka played by Joe Taslim, who conveys honour and integrity as the tough sergeant who starts to realise his team have been screwed over.
But its the villains who really shine, with the crime lord Tama exuding a quiet aura of menace throughout. The henchman, Mad Dog as I earlier mentioned is genuinely intimidating- a slight bloke who doesn’t fight at all until about half way into the film he nonetheless comes across as a badass, and from his first appearance you get a sense that he is a dangerous individual.
The plot may be basic, and the characters not entirely fleshed out, but it has a wonderful pared down feel and Evans directs with great skill, creating a tense atmosphere and executing the action scenes with great aplomb.
Verdict: A fantastic, stripped down action thriller with fantastic fight sequences. Characters are simple, but all of cast do their jobs well. One of the best action movies I’ve seen in years. 8/10
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO