Film Review: The Raid

Like all good foreign films, the rights to The Raid have already been bought for a (needless) American remake. Written and directed by Welsh-born, Indonesia-based Gareth Evans, this gleefully violent work of cinematic mayhem is the kind of action film Hollywood wishes it could make.

You know how many Hollywood action films these days – presumably out of desperation to avoid the stereotype of the brainless fight flick – end up with plots too convoluted for their own good? There’s none of that here. The Raid is mercifully spared the burden of a complicated storyline, the filmmakers well aware that no one is going to go see it for its dramatic subtlety.

In a nutshell, rookie cop Rama (Iko Uwais) is part of a SWAT-style team sent in to clear a 15-storey apartment building-turned-safehouse, owned by a notorious drug lord. When they reach the sixth floor, their cover is blown, the power goes out and a bounty is placed on their lives. Much death ensues.

The Raid proves that there’s no kill like overkill, delivering some of the most creative ways to kill a person seen on screen outside of the Final Destination franchise. Shooting, stabbing, defenestration, bombs made out of fridges – this one has it all. The film manages to avoid showing excessive gore on screen, but there are still more than a couple of moments bound to provoke audibly squeamish reactions from the audience.

The hand-to-hand combat sequences, showcasing the Indonesian martial art Pencak Silat, are thrillingly choreographed and engrossing to watch. The tight editing, slick cinematography and clever camerawork belie The Raid’s tiny budget – not for one second does the movie appear cheap. The score, by Mike Shinoda (of Linkin Park fame) and Joe Trapanese, is tense, throbbing and impressively well-suited.

As far as action movies go, The Raid is a masterpiece, ranking alongside such works of adrenaline-soaked brilliance as John Woo’s Hard Boiled. Bloody, bold and bizarrely beautiful, The Raid is a genuine, brutal treat.

4.5/5 Stars

The Raid (MA15+)
Duration: 101 minutes.
Released: 22 March 2012.

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