Director: Gareth H. Evans
Starring: Iko Uwais, Donny Alamsyah, Joe Taslim, Ray Sahetapy, Yayan Ruhian, Pierre Gruno
Welsh director Gareth Huw Evans, may be familiar to genre fans for his earlier feature, Merantau, which brought about a lot of notice for its introduction of penchak silat to the world stage. While not a perfect film, I felt it was hugely entertaining and a throwback of sorts to martial arts films from the 80’s and early 90’s, a period of time of which I am a huge fan. Coming our way from Indonesia, The Raid, Evans next film, made a huge splash at Sundance and was quickly picked up for U.S. distribution. Now it’s been released, at first limited, but has quickly increased the number of engagement sites. Buzz has been great, with reviewers touting it as “The Best Action Film in Decades!”(Twitchfilm) With a sequel already announced and an American remake fast tracked, does The Raid live up to the hype or does it fall short?
The story for the raid is minimal; basically a group of 20 officers enter an apartment building which serves as a stronghold for a ruthless crime lord with the intention of taking him out. The building is, of course, saturated with disreputable people with no small aversion to police presence in their building. What ensues is a blood bath as survivors of the police team attempt to take floor by floor in order to accomplish their mission. Re-teaming with Merantau stars, Iku Owais and Yayan Ruhian, creates an action film that is visceral, intense, and full of ‘WOW!’ moments. The choreography of the action scenes is intense and intricate with long cuts and camera placement that really put the skills of those on screen on display.
Produced on a budget of roughly $1M USD, The Raid is astounding in its efficient use of the money to produce a technically polished and engaging film. Visual effects are minimal; the ones evident are done well and professionally. Sound direction is very good with gunshots, broken bones, and meaty punches delivering a crisp and immersive effect. The music, produced by Mike Shinoda and Joseph Trapanese, has been redone from the music of the original release, and while very good and appropriate in its use, I am curious as to what the original music track was like. Hopefully a home video release will offer both audio tracks.
For fans of martial arts films, the art of penchak silat is widely unknown. The uniqueness of the style and its techniques are very interesting to watch. The use of it in this film is at the same time beautiful and bloody. The intricacies of foot placement and positioning may be lost to non-martial artists, but the film’s action scenes definitely add a layer of appreciation to those able to recognize it. It is without a doubt, in this humble reviewer’s opinion, that The Raid will do for penchak silat what Ong Bak and Ip Man have done for muay thai and wing chun, respectively.
The Raid is an exciting, adrenaline filled, exercise in testosterone and mayhem. Pure action fans will be endlessly impressed and casual moviegoers will undoubtedly be shaken by the amount of carnage in the film. In short, The Raid is an evolution of the action film genre. Taking it back to the pure in-your-face style of action that is hugely missing in many of today’s action film, The Raid is a bit of a throwback but still retains the modern techniques of film making. Indeed, the action is the story and the filming reflects that.
You may enjoy The Raid if you liked: Hard Boiled or Flash Point