The Raid redeems the action genre

It would seem highly unlikely that a Welshman would write and direct an Indonesian shoot’em up that, with a budget of only about a million dollars, would become one of the finest action movies to hit big screens in years.  Yet that is exactly what Gareth Evans has done with The Raid.  Uncompromising, yet sensible enough to remain on the right side of tastefulness, Evans has created a film that, despite its subtitles, offers broad appeal and shames typical Hollywood “action” movies.

The Raid storms UK cinemas May 18

The concept is a simple one: a SWAT team is tasked with taking down a nefarious drug lord’s stronghold, in this case a rundown 15-story apartment building filled with fearless thugs set to protect their interests.  Evans wastes little time before the police squad is attacking the block, opting to construct the plot in the midst of the chaos.  Whilst giving the viewer a break from the tremendously intense action sequences, a smart narrative unfolds that plays on loyalties and betrayal, with matters rapidly becoming more complicated.  There may not be much dialogue relatively speaking, but what is spoken is calculated and effective.  With Indonesian martial arts expert Iko Uwais’ young officer at the heart of the siege, The Raid sets the standard for pulse-pounding action.  Formidable opposition takes the form of pint-sized Mad Dog (Yayan Ruhian), whose own astounding Silat skills are breathtakingly displayed onscreen.  Yet The Raid is not merely a martial arts exhibition, as the film’s description would be incomplete without the old “everything but the kitchen sink” adage: guns of various sizes, machetes, knives, batons, axes and even a refrigerator all make a hefty impact.

Shot on a hand-held cameras, there’s a fair amount of jerkiness to The Raid, though it suits the atmosphere.  The framing of the action is excellent, allowing for the full force of the blows to be felt, with electronic beats often complimenting the fisticuffs.  In fact, the lack of camera trickery involved renders The Raid all the more amazing.  It’s nearly impossible to comprehend how the participants pull it all off without serious injury.  Not to be over-looked if the fact that The Raid is every bit as violent as it sounds.  Not one for the kiddies, the bloodshed and high body count is brilliantly executed (pun intended) and in no way feels like violence for the sake of it, keeping it properly entertaining.  The Raid is loaded with incredible sequences that no amount of adulation can do justice to.  Evans also does a great job of keeping the action fresh whilst maintaining a perfect pace.  There may be some moments that stretch the bounds of credulity but on the whole The Raid doesn’t put a foot wrong, which is saying a lot considering how outlandish or outright stupid the genre typically gets.  It’s even more remarkable when considering the film’s tiny budget.  If Hollywood could get as much bang for its buck as Evans has with The Raid, the world of the multiplex would be a far better place.

When it comes to high-octane action films, The Raid is the real deal.  Forget British tough guys putting on American accents or elderly expendables; for balls-out, thrills that excite (without insulting the audience’s intelligence, nonetheless!), The Raid is essential viewing.  Though a brilliant action film, Evans has succeeding in composing a piece that makes for a adrenaline-filled experience that’s larger than its genre.  Cinemagoers put off by cheesy dialogue, excessive explosions and blurry fight scenes would be well advised to trust Evans with 100 minutes of their time.  The Raid is an absolute riot.  9/10

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About LondonFilmFan

Amateur film critic and photographer residing in sunny London.

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