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The Raid - Review

The Raid

Review by Rob Carnevale

IndieLondon Rating: 5 out of 5

GARETH Evans’ The Raid is one of the most dazzling action movies you’re ever likely to see!

A breathless, bruising and incredibly tense roller-coaster ride, it also has the brains to match its ball-busting, head-banging, ‘how didn’t they get injured?’ set pieces. It’s that good.

Shot in Indonesia, the film picks up as an elite unit of cops, including one named Rama (Iko Uwais), enter a rundown, 15-storey apartment block with the intention of taking down its brutal resident crime lord, Tama (Ray Sahetaphy), only to find their cover quickly blown.

Trapped inside, and with Tama offering free sanctuary to all of the block’s criminal inhabitants in exchange for their heads, Rama and company are forced to fight their way back out while trying to complete their mission and get to grips with the real agenda behind their mission.

Evans candidly admits that his film is heavily inspired by the likes of Die Hard and Assault on Precinct 13, albeit with a heavier emphasis on the little-seen martial art of silat. But that doesn’t prevent it from still feeling like a fresh and inventive take on the genre thanks to its brutal action sequences.

Quite simply put, this is amazing stuff and viewers may well lose count of the amount of times they wince at some of the deaths and injuries sustained by the various characters… not to mention applauding at the sheer audacity of the choreography and the stunts.

How no one perished during filming is an absolute miracle, even though Evans and star Uwais admit to a number of on-set injuries, such was the dedication to making everything seem as real as possible.

That said, in spite of the thrilling nature of the action, the film also succeeds in engaging viewers’ emotionally and intellectually. You’ll care about whether the decent Rama can make it out alive, just as you’ll become intrigued by some of the more colourful characters surrounding the endeavour, whether it’s the deranged ‘Mad Dog’ (Yayan Ruhian), the gung-ho police officer Jaka (Joe Taslim), another of Tama’s mystery henchman or the bullish police captain whose motives become increasingly muddied.

With a sequel in the works, The Raid is clearly part of a bigger story and Evans’ succeeds in creating a world you’ll want to know more about, especially once the last-act revelations hint at a wider conspiracy beyond the walls of the block.

Evans, for his part, deserves maximum credit for delivering an action film that deserves to be mentioned in the same breath as the very best in the genre for the way he has recaptured the balletic majesty of early John Woo, the breathless intensity of Bourne-era Paul Greengrass, or the intrigue and duplicity of Alan Mak’s Infernal Affairs (or Scorsese’s remake The Departed).

It’s an exhilarating piece of cinema that looks set to redefine what can be achieved in the genre.

(In Indonesian, with subtitles)

Certificate: 18
Running time: 101mins
UK Release Date: May 18, 2012