Bitesize Review: The Raid (2011)

DIRECTOR: Gareth Evans.

CAST: Iko Uwais, Joe Taslim, Doni Alamsyah, Yayan Ruhian, Pierre Gruno, Ray Sahetapy.

SYNOPSIS: In the slums of Jakarta, a group of dangerous murderers and gangsters live in a tower block that even the police won’t enter. When a SWAT team decides to storm the building and take down notorious drug lord, Tama (Sahetapy), the other residents of the block won’t go down without giving it all they’ve got.

My broken arm calls for a slightly different (and bitesize) reviewing format. So here’s ten things I want to say about The Raid:

1. Every clichéd word from mind-blowing, incredible, cool and awesome applies to this film.

2. Each fight feels as though it has its own identity, bringing reason – rather than repetition – to the extremely realistic and inventive set pieces. Mad Dog (Ruhian) is an absolute animal and it’s a real treat seeing him take on two guys towards the end. Your jaw will be on the floor, trust me.

3. Mike Shinoda’s soundtrack is a brilliant addition to the film, but it will definitely have you thinking of Cliff Martinez at the start.

4. The subtitles are no hindrance to the film, but it is clear to see that it would have been a completely different film if American, not Indonesian. You will be relieved, in fact, by the end that it isn’t American.

5. The film is not actually as bloody as you let yourself believe. This works to the film’s advantage with the consistent violence very cleverly making you think you see more than you do. But there are still moments that take your breath away. Told you all the clichéd phrases were relevant, didn’t I.

6. Even though we are not given a backstory, per se, and sentimental flashbacks are ruled out in place of a relentless journey to the finish line, you really do care about our main protagonist, Rama (Uwais). Amongst the fighting and lack of dialogue, that’s a pretty impressive feat.

7. Like a video game at times, there are surprises around every corner and choreography that appears impossibly realised. Seducing us with its style and tension, you don’t want to close your eyes for a split-second.

8. The villains are not the most memorable in movie history, but there is a lot of fun in working out who is trying to double-cross whom.

9. At times you may be frustrated that you don’t know why they’re attacking the block, but you are rewarded with a (albeit slight) sense of resolution. There is an obvious lack of story, but that’s not Evans’ point. What he guarantees is that you will be glued to the screen and completely immersed in The Raid’s insane antics.

10. The ending may feel a little clichéd, but the journey is oh so worth it.

VERDICT: 5/5

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