The Raid has the potential to disappear under the radar: it features an all-Indonesian cast and is directed by little-known Welshman Gareth Evans, and has received the bare minimum of exposure. Don’t let this put you off though: missing this movie would be a travesty.
The plot is pure cliché. A S.W.A.T team, featuring the obligatory new recruit on his first assignment, the crusty but secretly loveable leader and the arrogant, aggressive stalwart, enters a high-rise apartment building to take out a gang leader, the issue being that nearly everyone else in there wants them dead. The story unfolds through some of the most appalling dialogue I’ve seen in recent years – every sentence is cobbled together from previous men-on-a-mission efforts, and sometimes just reading the subtitles is painful.
Arguably some of this may be the fault of the translation, but you don’t go to see The Raid for insightful conversation. You see it for the action. And what action it is. Limbs are snapped, necks are broken, numerous unnamed henchman are thrown bodily into pieces of furniture (mainly wardrobes. Make of that what you will). The choreography is tight, fluid, and brutal: no two fight sequences are the same, each with it’s own dynamic style and use of the surroundings. Every connecting fist incites a wince or grimace: unlike many contemporary efforts in the genre, we feel every blow thanks to some smooth, innovative camerawork and the sterling efforts of leading man Iko Uwais.
The film is most reminiscent of work like John Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13, particularly in it’s single ominous location and minimalist, pulsating score. For the scenes of violence alone, The Raid deserves to join that film in the annals of great action cinema.
The Raid (2012), directed Gareth Evans, is distributed in the UK by Momentum Pictures, Certificate 18.