High-rise rampage – The Raid review

The Raid – Starring Iko UwaisDoni Alamsyah and Yayan Ruhian. Directed by Gareth Evans. Rated MA. Originally published March 20, 2012. By Simon Miraudo.

The Raid is now available on DVD and Blu-ray in Australia.

You’ll believe a man can die! Welsh-born, Indonesian-based director Gareth Evans has delivered one of the most stirring action films in eons with The Raida relentlessly brutal and endlessly enjoyable flick that never runs out of inventive ways to kill people. Searching for relative comparisons, Jackie Chan‘s Police StoryNeveldine and Taylor‘s Crank and all things John Woo immediately come to mind. But The Raid still feels like its own thing, and it’s such an accessible crowd-pleaser (for adult-only crowds, of course), it might do for Indonesian cinema what Shiri and Oldboy did for South Korea, Ong-Bak did for Thailand, and what The Killer did for China. Prepare to welcome some astounding new talent to the world stage.

Martial arts star Iko Uwais plays Rama, the last good cop in Jakarta. With a pregnant wife at home, and an estranged brother on the run, he has plenty of reason to want the streets of his home-town cleaned up. He’ll start by striking Indonesia’s black heart: a decrepit apartment block inhabited almost exclusively by drug-dealers, murderers, rapists, and machete-wielding gangsters – all of whom are outrageously skilled fighters. The worst of the worst, Tommy Wiseau-looking kingpin Tama (Ray Sahetapy) presides on the top floor, aided by violent sidekicks Mad Dog (Yayan Ruhian) and Andi (Doni Alamsyah). Though Rama infiltrates the building as a single cog in a well-oiled police team, order quickly disappears when the building’s inhabitants fight back. Soon, it’s a struggle for the police to get out alive. Rama, however, is intent on finishing what he started.

So begins a tornado of violence unlike anything we’ve seen before. Writer-director Evans is clearly of the ‘video game’ generation; not only does there seem to be an endless supply of enemies to act as bullet-fodder, but the very concept of rising ‘up’ through the levels and fighting various ‘bosses’ along the way is practically the essence of old-school gaming. Still, it’s impossible to even note the episodic nature in which the film progresses amidst the unforgettable fight scenes (choreographed by Uwais and Ruhian). Each and every one acts as a reminder of how poorly action set-pieces are constructed in most major pictures.

There is enough meat on the (shattered) bone to make this a substantial treat beyond the experience of seeing people murdered so creatively. There’s some commentary on the state of corruption in Jakarta, and more than a few parallels to The Departed (or, if you will, the Hong Kong original Infernal Affairs). Their inclusion is welcome. However, people are coming to The Raid for one thing and one thing only: bloodied, brain-breaking battle royales to the death between a series of increasingly talented martial artists. It delivers.


Check out Simon’s other reviews here.

The Raid is now available on DVD and Blu-ray in Australia.

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