A short, tough, pumped-up flick for die-hard action fans
‘1 ruthless crime lord. 20 elite cops. 80 floors of chaos.’ The advertising sets exactly the right proficient tone; crunching the numbers as well as bones, The Raid features a small group of policemen taking on a vertically stacked army of criminals until there’s barely anyone still standing to claim the spoils. About as good a film as you can make about men repeatedly punching each other in the face, Welshman Gareth Evans’ low-budget, high-impact Indonesian martial arts thriller doesn’t have much to offer in terms of story or characterisation, but piles on hard-boiled fight-scenes to bruising effect.
Rama (Iko Uwais) is a young SWAT team member characterised by nothing more than his anxiety to get home to his pregnant wife. From the back of a police van, Rama looks forward to storming a Jakarta tower block and taking down murderous crime lord Tama (Ray Sahetapy). But once his squad are inside the block, it’s apparent that their mission has been compromised, leaving Rama’s crew cut off from any tactical support and at the mercy of the bloodthirsty killers that Tama commands. In a further complication, Tama holds a few wild cards amongst his army’s ranks in the form of Tama’s brother Andi (Doni Alamsyah) and kick-ass crazy killer Mad Dog (Yayan Ruhain).
The Raid resembles the ferocious corridor melee from Old Boy expanded to feature length, an ingenious, non-stop celebration of physical violence that makes a considerable asset of the Indonesian martial art of pencak silat. For the agile Uwais, an action-movie career beckons, but it’s the unlimited gusto of the direction which really deserves the plaudits; this is a fan-boy film, reflecting three months of intense choreography and training as well as Evans’s obvious devotion to action cinema. The Raid is short, tough, and offers exactly the kind of pumped-up kicks that die-hard action fans adore.
General release from Fri 18 May.