Review: The Raid

Gareth Evans writes, directs and edits this low budget non-stop martial arts action movie. Driven by his love for Asian cinema, this Welshman is undoubtedly in his element, working again with lead man Iko Uwais in their second Indonesian action movie.

The title of the film The Raid almost entirely describes what your about to watch. A SWAT team raid a tower block to bring down a drug lord. They soon become engulfed in a violent conflict against the thugs and army of killers that live inside.

The plot intricacies are of secondary importance to the action. The film does develop a couple of predictable twists, touching upon crime and corruption within the Jakarta police force. Rama (Iko Uwais) is at the centre of the chaos and has the developing story of family relationships to ignite his purpose within this film. He is an actor who can encompass both emotional character development and produce believable choreography within his performance.

The amazing fight sequences are what really keep you watching. The action is extremely well choreographed, predominantly using the more violent moves of Pencak Silat; a martial art that has rarely been used in films before. There are bloody gun battles, but when the ammo runs out knifes and hand-to-hand combat become the primary choice of fighting. It’s a high energy, punishing style of fighting as bones are crushed and faces disfigured.

Like a John Woo film there is a relentless style to the action and all the stunt men and extras seem to have a professional grasp of martial arts. The fighters tend to launch themselves towards each other in a rage of fists, knees and elbows. A vast contrast to the traditional bowing and general preparation (as one fighter sizes up another) used in other martial arts movies.

The soundtrack (for the US and European release of the movie) is composed by Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park and Joseph Trapanese is a rush of electro music. Synthesizers and distorted beats are played through an array of effects pedals. A powerful accompaniment to the action as their energies are well matched, it almost feels like a music video at times.

To sum up
For such a low budget ($1,100,000) Gareth Evans demonstrates his ability to create an action-packed film to rival any other high octane feat out there. Be warned this is an unapologetically violent film and the persistent violence can become monotonous at points. However the stunts are inventive, the fight sequences are very convincing and the actors superbly showcase all of this with creative athleticism. That’s the integral backbone to the brilliance of this film. It’s what makes it so fun to watch.

Author: James M

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