Plot Ruling Jakarta’s megaslum from a high-rise fortress, drug baron Tama (Sahetapy) is preparing to entertain some unwelcome visitors. Enter the city SWAT team, including rookie copper Rama (Uwais), armed, ready to climb, unaware that a trap’s already been set...
Critic screenings can be a weird, airless place to eat up a movie. For those who’ve never ‘entered the vacuum’, they’re a bit like taking an entertainment exam — guarded, concentrated, lots of pen-chewing and a firm, unspoken etiquette of silence. Most screenings, you could hear a spider fart in a film can. Pringles go off like grenades. At The Raid, however, decorum fell out the window. Everyone, eventually, contributed their own part to the soundtrack. Aghs. Oofs. Ows. Farks. There might have even been an “eep” from one of the broadsheets. This didn’t happen during The Expendables.
Hot off the festival circuit, the buzz on this one is well-earned and genuine. It’s been a while, but here’s an unabashed, unironic Friday-night movie — a noisy, bloodlusting crowdpleaser that’s like a kickback to the grindhouse. Other than hailing from Indonesia, there’s nothing new about The Raid — in fact, with its henchmen, Big Bads and AK-47s, it’s stubbornly retrograde. The dialogue’s been cut-and-pasted from Action Movie Pass Notes (“We go in, we take him out”; “Not without my team”, and, that classic understatement, “We have company”). The villain is dial-a-drug-baron. And yet, between an unknown Indonesian and a man from Merthyr Tydfil, The Raid’s accomplished what all action movies promise but few achieve — it makes you gasp. And, in some cases, eep.
It’s certainly a stylistic wake-up call for Hollywood’s default battle mode. Rapid cuts and shaky cams might give you the sense of being inside a brawl, but it’s wearing numb. Here, the combat is shot long, wide, often from an insane angle, frequently one take. It’s not remotely suggestive — just breathlessly visceral. There will be few more thrilling sights this year than watching Iko Uwais domino a bunch of superbads down a corridor. With the possible exception of watching Iko Uwais dive out a window, fall three storeys and land on a fire escape — still fighting the same guy.
Surprisingly, for a nation with such a loaded martial arts heritage, you can count the number of Indonesian action stars on one fist. Its last big bruiser, the mighty Barry Prima, flaunted his exotic hair during the ’80s, pounding rubber crocodiles in a series of daft fantasy lemons. Prima, an Indonesian icon, trained in taekwondo — a Korean martial art. Uwais, The Raid’s primary weapon, was raised on his native pencak silat, rarely seen and, it turns out, fearsomely cinematic — quick as kung fu but blunter, weapon-ready and not shy of using its environment. Even the set joins in the fights. Tables. Fridges. Ovens... No CG. This never gets boring.
Of course, we’ve been here before, with Ong-Bak and the coming of Tony Jaa — Uwais’ advantage is the film matches him move for move. Director Gareth Evans has pulled off something of a coup here, tempering the cartoon hysteria of Asian action cinema with a slicker, colder Western sensibility. The primitive invasion plot has just enough twists and character flips to keep you emotionally enagaged. More importantly, they double up as perfectly placed recovery points. You’ll welcome the breathers. Ultimately, it’s The Raid’s skill at reading an audience’s heart-rate that makes it such an exhilarating rush. Things become a bit of a bludgeon during a climactic fight with main hench Mad Dog (Yayan Ruhian) — it’s at least 51 kicks and 135 punches too long, but, in the words of Nigel Tufnel, that’s just nit-picking isn’t it?
With its pulsing synths and underlit sets, The Raid feels like a mean John Carpenter film — Assault On Slum 13 with added machetes. There are few laughs. Just breakneck action and electric menace. Be sure to stay for the end credits, which tell their own story — a full army of massage therapists and the debris of a hundred bruised extras. Floor Hole Attacker No. 4, we feel your pain.
Verdict Remember your first time with Hard Boiled? Die Hard? This is how it’s done — a clean, hard, constant hit of adrenalin. If it’s not the best action movie of the year, we’ll eat a fridge.
ERS AFOOT** saw this on Friday past, and I can hand-on-heart say that it's the most crushingly disappointed I've been in a film for quite some time given the hype surrounding this.
I fail to see how this is a five star movie? Is it the action that is making this score so high? Granted, the athleticism on display is excellent, and the fights are very well choreographed (and brutal), but my God, did they ]! I love a good fight scene, but I frequently felt myself getting bored as some of the ... More
Saw this last night, it's /i] as great as you've heard.
Not much to say really, as action films go it's one of the best I've seen in a while and unlike something like Ong Bak, has more going for it than just decent fight sequences, it actually has some likeable characters and genuine tension.
4/5 ... More
entertaining but not in the same league as 'Die Hard' or 'Hard Boiled'te]
Sums it up for me - it's a great action film and needs to be seen, but it was not as groundbreaking as I had expected from the hype (although they rarely are, I should know this). As with a lot of eastern martial arts films some of the fight scenes go on a bit and start to come across as just too choreographed - I know this is a personal niggle, I've never been a huge chop-socky fan.
The last tim... More
Went to see this Friday afternoon in Limerick, there were 5 other people in the cinema (all male) but it was a 2pm screening so I wasn't expecting/hoping for a large crowd.
For me, the real superstar in this movie is Rama (Iko Uwais), who was introduced as a newbie special force in the team. Fantastic martial art movements, which is traditional martial art called Pencak Silat from Indonesia truly filled this movie with wowing watcher's experience. Fast moves, intense close combat and his ... More
Highly entertaining but not in the same league as 'Die Hard' or 'Hard Boiled'. The film only really got going for me once the guns were taken out of the equation - up to that I thought things were fairly pedestrian but once the hand-to-hand stuff started up I'd a huge grin on my face until the final credits rolled. The fight scenes were really brutal and the audience I saw it with gasped and giggled excitedly as the violence escalated. A great Friday night flick but perhaps not the action cl... More
I guess its because i found the film rather dull and one note in places.Even just a little humour would have livened things up a bit.Thats part of what made Hard Boiled and Die Hard so special. ... More
I am not sure where these boring bits were in the film - saw it again today, and there is maybe two/three moments for characters to catch their breath, but it really is relentless.
I am not sure I agree that for an action film to be one of the greats it needs a sense of humour. The Raid is really streamlined, and goes for maxmimum value in action. I would guess that Evans would have been concerned the jokes wouldn't translate and weigh the film down.
Sometimes I like humour in my ac... More
Saw this today after looking forward to it for a long time and...i was slightly disappointed with the film.I love hard core old school action films and while the fight scenes are brilliantly staged the film is rather slow to get going and is in fact rather boring in places.The plot (such as it is) is rather predictable and could have used some humour.Action classics like Die Hard and Hard Boiled are laugh out loud funny in places and this took itself rather too seriously.
It sound like im ... More
This film suffers from the frenzied support of reviews in the national press. Burdened with such high expectations the only way is down. And sadly, down it went.
The film has many problems, among which include: practically no set design; a narrative that reads like a story from a teenage boy; unnecessary barbed wire-like music accompanying all fight scenes; over-choreographed fights to the point of absurdity; ridiculous henchmen (Mad Dog's risible feeble stature); and a desperate hope, whi... More
Wow, just watched this film and I am floored by it. The action was relentless; I was gripped throughout. The fact that there were no annoying Hollywoodisms (e.g. get the girl, keep the bad guy alive, boring filler, etc) was what I liked best about it. Economical in budget and in narrative - it was at a whirlwind pace. ... More
L: Darth Marenghi
Saw this today at a preview with a director Q & A post-screening.
b]Is this the Manchester screening? I was there.lm was great and the audience really reacted well to each hit. The whole thing was probably the best cinema experience I've had with an action film in a while. The Q/A session afterwards was also a treat. I managed to get a scoop out of the director on the sequel too. /quote]
Indeed it was. at the bit when Evans talked about the car s... More
On a similar note I have seen it and its fucking amazing. ote]
Absobloodylutely! Awesome film and Iko Uwais is my new crush rying to work out when I can fit this in again. Second film I have seen in 2 weeks where the audience has cheered and clapped during (Avengers was the first) and it's a great atmosphere to be in! Loved it ... More
L: Darth Marenghi
Saw this today at a preview with a director Q & A post-screening.
s this the Manchester screening? I was there. The film was great and the audience really reacted well to each hit. The whole thing was probably the best cinema experience I've had with an action film in a while. The Q/A session afterwards was also a treat. I managed to get a scoop out of the director on the sequel too. ... More
Not my cup of tea but I can see where you are all coming from. Oh and after this reading this review I can't get the image of serious film critics going 'aah' 'eep' 'fark!' out of my head because I just sat there a little bit bored but admiring the slick camera work and martial arts and direction. And also after reading this review I'm thinking 'should have stayed and watched the secret scene' can anyone fill me in on that? I stayed long enough to see the directors Credit a welsh men from my ne... More
This is an awesome action movie. It is certainly the best "kung-fu" movie I've seen, and I want to see it again, now please!
The tension builds, you can feel the pressure and the awesome soundtrack helps build on the mood. Then all hell breaks loose. The action is ridiculous, the camera work is sensational, the editing is great too.
Top draw, could not recommend for a boys movie anything higher. If any girls like this, marry them. ... More
I would dearly, /b] like to know how many gunshots are in this film. It's certainly in four figures, and quite possibly in five. No, seriously. The first half of this movie sees a shell-count (and body-count) unlike anything I've witnessed in years. The second half focuses more on hand-to-hand martial arts, with more shouting and grunting than actual dialogue.
But all in all, it adds up to a spectacular ride, with genuine tension throughout.
Lean, mean thrill machine and with not once ounce of fat! Iko Uwais is the newest international action star and with this he has booked his place in The Expendables 3 (if Stallone has any sense)! Finally a martial arts action epic where the story, acting and directing matches the numerous inventive fights on screen. See it to believe it and when you have caught your breath, see it again! ... More
Saw this today at a preview with a director Q & A post-screening. The film's an absolutely phenomenal piece of action film-making with some utterly insane but thrilling moments and as many blistering fight sequences as you could want. The plotting and characterisation is noticeably thinner than the action classics that Evans clearly grew up and loved like the rest of us, but this is more than compensated for by the charismatic Iwais and the inventive, brutal choreography. Really looking forward... More
I heard so many good things about this from US websites I thought it must be all hype but it doesn't disappoint. Once it gets going it is totally relentless and you just wonder how a human being is capable of doing these things. Don't think I've ever heard an audience react to a film so vocally, they were feeling every punch. Highly recommended. ... More