Dir: Gareth Evans, 2012

Ruling the Jakarta slums from a tower block on-high, a ruthless drug baron provides refuge to many of the city’s most disreputable and violent criminals. A SWAT team, which includes the young rookie Rama, lay siege to the building in hopes of ridding the streets of its filth. But the police underestimate the building’s inhabitants and so become embroiled in a brutal death match in their efforts to take the tower.

This Indonesian martial arts revival film is helmed strangely by Welshman Gareth Evans, a young director who draws heavy inspiration from the hard-hitting action flicks of the 70s and 80s, for example Die Hard and Assault on Precinct 13. The remarkable element about Evans’ adrenaline-fuelled knockout is its demonstration of a clear understanding of cinema (particularly action cinema) and Evans’ superb knack for transferring his acumen onto the screen. Evans embraces all the customary procedures of a fight film in both the writing and the shooting but it’s the style of The Raid that separates it from The Expendables 2 or The Bourne Legacy.

First off, the fight sequences are hefty and regular but deal with all-out carnage as opposed to disconcerting levels of gore, regardless of the looming presence of hammers and machetes. The battles are constructed both brilliantly and beautifully by actors Iko Uwais and Yayan Ruhian, approaching the film with what Evans referred to as an interpretation of dance. Evans films with a handheld camera and utilises rapid cutting (which is the criterion for the genre) but wisely rebels against the current trend of shaky-cam, allowing the audience to focus on the action and follow it closely no matter how intricate or hectic the choreography becomes. Therefore, the heart and subsequent success of The Raid lies in the partnership between Evans and his actors/choreographers and this brazen, stunning crowd-pleaser of fists and fury is the pay-off of a truly trustworthy dynamic.

The Raid makes no attempts to hustle the audience and keeps faith in the common knowledge that its audience is particular but that’s not to say restricted. The Raid does not have the charm of Die Hard or the nuance of [Rec] but Evans creates a solid entry to the martial arts genre, not so much a revelation as a revolution.

★ ★ ★ ★ ☆

Watch the trailer here


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