The Raid makes its entry without ceremony, as Jakarta’s finest are sardined up en-route to the high-rise lair of local drug lord, Tama (Ray Sahetapy); The time has come to go in – hard, and rat out the long-time residing infestation. It’s an effective opening after the brief introduction of central hero Rama (Iko Uwais) that wastes no time in setting up what appears to be another simplistic riot of ultra-violence. The dye-hard is cast for an hour and forty-one minutes of what only can be described as chaos.
At breakneck speed we’re into the first frantic encounter with the tenement’s inhabitants, the block locks-down. With no escape, Rama and his crew battle upwards through thirty floors of hellish high-rise that JUST. DOESN’T. STOP…perfect fare for adrenalized microwave burger lovers, you may be forgiven for wanting to get off this amplified visual and audible ride, but as The Raid progresses to unleash some of the best choreographed, violent action of recent years, feelings of vertigo subside to appreciate something quite brilliant.
Welsh born writer/director Gareth Evans manages to get the most out the grimy, gritty apartment setting, creating a maze of pandemonium; and with no small measure of flair pace and plot stay on course just when it could all career uncontrollably off course.
Moving through the levels, twists are revealed to provide more than the usual high-kicking commotion through frantic fist, gun, and machete fight feasts – you name it, The Raid has it, and set improvisation proves that in the claustrophobic, berserk world of Evans’ Indo-Welsh actioner, anything is a weapon!
Lead man Uwais, uses all at his disposal; kicking, punching – employing every limb of his flexible flowing anatomy along with all manner of artillery as he battles an army of wielding maniacs. How long John McClane would last in this company is anyone’s guess.
But Yahan Ruhian’s Mad Dog wins the hard-case stakes, a truly great henchman and one of recent cinema’s best; a skinny, lithe, whirling martial arts master seemingly indestructible (just stay down already!) even when ganged up on in a highlight scrap, a grittier version of The Phantom Menace’s Two on One flashy light sword battle – what were them thingies called again?
Budgetary or any other similarities end there, but by Indonesian standards The Raid is a blockbuster, the kind of actioner that Hollywood could do with a shot of. Mr Evans – welcome to the party pal!
(Lovefilm by post)