The Raid

31 Mar

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A few days ago I was with my girlfriend and we were trying to decide which film to watch. “Can we watch The Raid?” she asked. Having seen the film towards the end of 2012, I had no hesitation in putting it on again to see if it stands up to scrutiny on a second viewing. Happily for me, it does.

The film is set almost entirely in a high-rise apartment block in Jakarta, Indonesia. The block is home to some less than friendly people who have made a home for themselves there, where they can conduct illegal activity and nobody dares go near them.

The bad folks are headed by Tama (Ray Sahetapy). He rules over the apartment block with an iron fist, and has two cruel, sycophantic henchmen to do his dirty work for him. They are Andi (Donny Alamsyah) and a man known only as Mad Dog (Yayan Ruhian). They’re a pretty fearsome trio.

Lieutenant Wahyu (Pierre Gruno) has decided that he has had enough of this unchallenged criminal activity and wants to put a stop to it. He sends a SWAT team into the block to try and take out Tama, but it all starts to go wrong pretty quickly. Before long, he and his team are trapped in the block with no back up to help them, and they’re facing a viscous army of killers.

What follows is an hour and a half of unrelenting, brutal action, mixing martial arts and gunfire to create a wonderfully entertaining action film. As the film goes on, certain figures within the SWAT team become more prominent. Although the film is essentially just a brutal action flick, there are some decent character arcs thrown in to give it a bit of heart as well.

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Perhaps the best of these is Rama (Iko Uwais), who has a slightly different motivation to the rest of his team for being in the building. Personally I’d say he’s the best character in the film. He’s well acted and is incredible in some of his fight scenes. There is one particular scene, or rather a collection of scenes that recalls that incredible fight sequence from Old Boy. It’s brutal, will occasionally make you wince and is an absolute triumph of choreography.

In fact, the choreography of many of the fights is fantastic. There are also some interesting directorial decisions to show bullets firing in slow motion. In one particular instance, this is done to highlight the flash of the bullet firing in the dark, casting fantastic shadows on the walls. It looks great.

Overall, The Raid is an excellent action film. At once stylish and bleak, it is thoroughly entertaining throughout. The elements of the story and character development that are dropped in are fine, but nobody will be putting this film on expecting an emotional roller coaster. It knows exactly what it is and it delivers all the way through.

8/10

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