A SWAT team attack an apartment complex that houses a dangerous drug lord. As they move up floor by floor, they wipe out gang members and slowly secure the building. Until they are discovered and the gang fights back. On the 5th floor, however, the mob boss is alerted and begins to watch the police making their way up via surveillance cameras. Oh, and there’s fighting. Lots of fighting. Actually, A LOT of it.
The police – those that survived the opening shootout – are split into two groups with Jaka (Joe Taslim) fighting alongside the Lieutenant and a rookie officer, and Rama (Iko Uwais) who tries to protect an injured officer while battling the hordes of oncoming baddies. The good guys take their lumps too – these aren’t supermen, so you really do feel nervous for them in each and every fight. The sound effects and score are perfect for the claustrophobic and frenetic pace of the film. I haven’t heard bone crunching sound effects this good since The Brotherhood of the Wolf. The film is one of the most violent films I’ve seen to date, but never over the top.
The Raid logically works its way through fight choreography that begins with automatic weapons, and he moves the camera intelligently to emphasise the visceral action and clearly also works with a top action choreography team and stunt performers to offer-up some awesome martial arts action moments. Director Gareth Evans clearly wants you to leave your brains at the door and celebrate in violent beatings and fight sequences that were stylishly choreographed and continue with such relentless regularity that you almost want to pause the projector to catch your breath before the next group of bare-fisted bruisers hit the screen. Like I read in a recent article, Imagine Die Hard, only 100 times more violent and 1,000 times more bloody. That is The Raid.
Aside from a couple of quiet moments where allegiances on both sides of the field shift, not unexpectedly, that’s pretty much it in terms of plot, and it obvious the filmmakers would have it no other way. This is a showcase, for Silat, for Indonesia and for Iko Uwais, who is very much the “next” Tony Jaa. Evans can work with his actors, his stunt team and his tech crew in a way that other directors with ten times the resources can’t manage, from impressive slow-mo shots that also work emotionally to a sound mix that feels like you’re in the moment in shock. This isn’t a neck chop or sleeper hold type of film. It is a 50 kicks to the face and 14 roundhouses to the ribs type of flick. You’ve been warned.