The Raid Review

Posted on February 16, 2012


By Luke Hanlon

Welsh born director Gareth Evan’s (Merantau, Footsteps) The Raid is the story of an elite SWAT team performing a raid on a notorious drug lord’s safe house in the Jakartan slums of Indonesia. When the entire building is alerted to the team’s presence, they must fight through 30 floors of killers and thugs to reach the man at the top if they hope to escape alive.

Evans reunites with Iko Uwais (playing the character of Rama), star of his last feature Merantau, to make what could be action’s most exciting duo. The two met while Evans was filming a documentary in 2007 in Indonesia. Uwais has trained in the martial art  ‘Pencak Silat’ since he was 10.

One of the good things about The Raid is that it knows it’s an action film, and doesn’t try too hard to be anything else. The characters are introduced and the story is set up within 10 minutes, and then people start getting shot in the head. The Raid is a very violent film, but it’s never overdone or superfluous. The action is always stylistic and often very creative – especially some of the death scenes. It displays a willingness to show the brutality rarely seen in Hollywood anymore, and while the violence can be shocking at times, it’s never intended to be provocative or offensive and is always entertaining.

Being an action film, it’s a good thing that The Raid has some truly classic action scenes, including a corridor scene reminiscent of Asian action classic Oldboy, in which Rama takes on five or six machete wielding thugs. And, anytime the character of ‘Mad Dog’ (Yahan Ruhian) comes on screen you’ll be in for a fight scene you won’t forget. The art of Silat is a joy to watch on screen, and Evans captures it perfectly as the extremely well choreographed fights are shot and edited in a skilful way, which lets the action flow.

The Raid does have moments that aren’t all about the fighting, but the sentimental bits are handled well by the actors and never over done, and Ray Sahetapy puts in a good performance as the drug kingpin ‘Tama’.

The Raid is a brutally intense, brutally violent film with genuine, well choreographed martial arts displayed with supreme style.  Iko Uwais, set to star in 2013’s Mortal Kombat, is also one of the genre’s most exciting prospects. With many memorable moments, and a few classic ones, The Raid is one of the best modern action films as you’re likely to see.