The Raid

The Raid *****

WELSH director, Gareth Evan’s Indonesian set, action feature, The Raid, certificate 18, is a deliciously over the top violent action feature, that once again showcases the high quality of film’s produced by the Asian film industry.

Evan’s follows up his 2009 feature Merantau, which also dabbled with martial arts, and also starred The Raid’s leading man, Iko Uwais. The film premiered at the Toronto Film Festival, receiving largely positive reviews from both critics and audiences.

Set deep within the slums of Jakarta, the capital city of Indonesia. The film starts with a police swat-team attempting to secure an old apartment building and bring in the criminal kingpin, Tama Riyadi, played by Ray Sahetapy.

Cloaked under the cover of pre-dawn darkness, the 20-man team arrives at the apartment and proceeds to go floor by floor, attempting to quietly secure the building. When they reach the sixth floor, the team is finally spotted and all hell breaks loose.

The feature switches tone and at times feels more like a horror movie. As the team members are slowly whittled down, the film becomes more about their individual survival than the capture of Riyadi. The director ramps up the tension, as the surviving members, hide from their pursuers and at times the feature becomes visually claustrophobic.

The film’s central protagonist is Rama, played by Iko Uwais. He is a rookie cop, with a deeply guarded secret that connects him to the criminal gang. His character uses a form of martial arts, called Pencak Silat, which originated in Indonesia. At times he appears to be a one-man army, taking on numerous opponents at once.

The various martial arts on display the film are choreographed to perfection. The director has a clear understanding of the techniques and fighting styles on display, allowing some scenes to play out at surprising lengths. Despite this the sequences never become repetitive or dull.

In particular the climactic battle involving Rami and two of Tama’s henchmen, Andi, played by Donny Alamsyah and Yayan Ruhian’s, Mad Dog. Is vicious and brutal, and features the rather inventive use of a fluorescent tube.  Ruhian’s character is particularly menacing on-screen presence, with his with his deadly fighting skills.

Evan’s has described the film, as homage to some of the action films he grew up with in the 1980’s. Referencing films like Bruce Willis’s Die Hard and Arnold Schwarzenegger’s 1985 feature, Commando.

The film reminded me personally of John Carpenter’s 1976 classic, Assault of Precinct 13. It has a similar style to Carpenter’s film and features a similar score. Visually it also reminded me of the 2008 French horror movie, Le Horde, which also took place in a downtrodden apartment building.

With the director confirming last week on BBC Radio 5 that he is already penning a sequel, credit must be bestowed upon his young Welsh shoulders for creating  such a fantastically over the top entry into the Action genre.

The film’s Violent visual style might put some viewers off, but fans of the genre will quickly find themselves at home.

Viewers should not be put by the feature’s foreign movie label. Despite being subtitled the film is easy to follow and much like the 2002 feature, City of Gods, they will miss out on a real cinematic treat.

Review by William McClean

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