One of the most incredible, exhilarating & heart-pounding action films to come out in a long time, The Raid (also known as The Raid: Redemption) is possibly the purest form of action extravaganza that has ever graced the film canvas which, apart from bringing a smile on every action film lover with its maddening depiction of blood, violence & insane fight sequences, also marks a significant breakthrough for the so-far-invisible Indonesian film industry to come into the attention of world cinema audience. Although by no means it is a perfect film, but when it comes to pure adrenaline rush, thrilling factor & entertainment value, action films don’t get anymore exciting, inventive or satisfying than this high-octane, full-throttled & top-gear action spectacle.
The plot concerns a raid operation taking place in a 15 storey apartment building which houses a ruthless crime lord named Tama, who is greatly feared by his opponents & has turned the entire building into a haven for city’s most feared criminals by accommodating them under his protection, thus also turning the entire place into a highly restricted zone. An elite special force of 20 cops start their covert mission of capturing the criminal kingpin really well by securing one floor at a time without being detected but on 7th floor, their presence becomes known after which the film becomes a relentless exhibition of violent bloodbath as the trapped police squad with limited ammunition & no back up is left with no choice but to fight against the armed & skilfully trained army of dangerous gangsters in order to make it out alive.
To be honest, there isn’t much to bother with the story of The Raid because it only serves as a reasonable justification to all the endless carnage that surrounds this film. The movie is written & directed by Gareth Evans, who surely knows what great action is all about & even though the major emphasis here isn’t on story or character development, the fight sequences depicted in this film are so amazingly & tastefully captured by Evans that the action is, without a doubt, the singular reason why this film works. Cinematography puts up a bleak & nearly colourless picture on-screen that somehow fits it perfectly and with its torn down & inhospitable look of the building, it also creates a claustrophobic atmosphere that turns The Raid into a survival horror. Editing is this film’s major strength too as the film is explosively paced & is edited for maximum entertainment.
Coming to the performances, it may not be something to praise about but the actors have done a good enough job to keep it away from major complaints. Iko Uwais, who also starred in Evans’ last film Merantau, plays the lead role as a rookie officer named Rama around whom the main story revolves. Ray Sahetapy plays Tama, the notorious crime lord. Donny Alamsyah plays Andi, the brain of Tama’s gang & brother of Rama and the movie did slow down for a moment to explore this relation to add a little dramatic perspective to its story. Yayan Ruhian plays Tama’s most faithful servant known as Mad Dog & along with Uwais is also the fight choreographer for this film and both really did put up some of the most amazing action sequences ever filmed on camera. The soundtrack composed by Mike Shinoda & Joseph Trapanese also contributes greatly in fuelling the intensity of this expertly paced film with its adrenaline boosting tracks.
Overall, with its remarkable use of guns, machetes & martial arts in its fight sequences, The Raid takes action in cinema to a whole new standard of awesomeness & amazement. All cinema lovers have some movies which they absolutely adore & no matter how many notable flaws, plot holes or inconsistencies those films might have, their unique cinematic experience is what makes them exclusively special. The Raid fits into that category of films. It has a decent story & typical plot developments, but the jaw-dropping experience it provides is something that even many technically perfect films fail to deliver. Also, the absence of drama & smart dialogues somehow helps the viewers to be more delved into the on-screen carnage rather than worry about the emotional complexity of its characters. All in all, The Raid is a violent ride of intense & insane action that guarantees a breathtaking experience for action film lovers. So, if you are one, then don’t even dare to miss this action masterpiece because disappointment is certainly not an option here.