The Raid, a new non-stop cornucopia action film, comes from the most unlikely of sources – Indonesia. But don’t let the country of origin fool you. The Raid is jam packed with some of the best action sequences we’ve seen in years and audiences are sure to walk away with an adrenaline rush punch to the gut that far exceeds their forked (over) entertainment dollar.
Starring a bunch of actors we can guarantee you have never heard of and written and directed by Gareth Evans (another name you are surely not to recognize), The Raid offers big time action sequences chalked full of gunfights, knife fights and enough hand-to-hand combat to rival any movie in recent memory.
The idea behind The Raid is remedial. A group of well armed police officers enter a 15-story apartment complex overflowing with a group of better armed drug dealers and bad guys intent on holding their ground. The police are lead by an over anxious Lieutenant who leads his squad of mostly rookies into the apartment complex where they are quickly over matched and out gunned. Their objective is to find the drug lord who resides on the 15th floor and bring him to justice. Easier said than done.
Bodies on both sides of battle fall to the ground like rounds from a Gatling gun in an Arnold Schwarzenegger movie. The police – those that survived the opening shootout – are split into two groups with Jaka (Joe Taslim) fighting alongside the Lieutenant and a rookie officer, and Rama (Iko Uwais) who tries to protect an injured officer while battling the hordes of oncoming baddies.
What ensues over the course of the next 80-minutes is a rip-roarin’ blast of gratuitous bloodletting. The gun battles are more intense than the bank robbery scene in Michael Mann’s Heat, the apartment hallway battles make the scene in Oldboy look like a Pixar film and the cops are as overmatched as U.S. Army Rangers were against an entire Somalian town Black Hawk Down.
Director Gareth Evans clearly wants you to leave your brains at the door and celebrate in violent beatings and fight sequences that were stylishly choreographed and continue with such relentless regularity that you almost want to pause the projector to catch your breath before the next group of bare-fisted bruisers hit the screen. Our two main leads take more body blows than John McClane did in all four Die Hard films and their resilience and ability to be beaten to a pulp and yet have the ability and the strength to continue fighting is beyond this reviewer’s comprehension.
If there was but one small issue we had with the film it was that everyone who lived in the apartment complex had the fighting skills of an UFC righter or karate expert. Young, small, big or tall, they hall knew how to deliver a multiple high-kicks or at least take one and get right back up for more.
There is a small twist in the film that is clearly evident a reel before the actual reveal on screen, but it hardly takes away from the fun filled excitement leading up to the plot turn.
The sum of all its parts makes The Raid a must-see for anyone appreciative of non-stop battles where machetes are luxury and where a broken fluorescent tube can send a packed theatre into jubilant applause. It may lack the sophistication of The Departed, but it catered to an audience that couldn’t get enough by the half-way mark and then was left gasping for air like a prized fighter in the 12th round towards its conclusion.