The Raid (2012)


Every year there are a slew of action films that come to the cinemas and DVD outlets. For the most part these are relatively generic films suffering from uninspired plots/script and starring cookie cut actors. It is a genre where you check your head at the door and watch the mediocrity for two hours with the occasional cheer and/or chuckle, and rarely an incredible action sequence that you talk about later.
Then along comes an action film that stands apart... this is one of them.
The Raid doesn't sport a new or unique plot: A Police unit must raid a tenement to capture a gang lord – hijinks ensue. But, oh the hijinks.
The film opens with our protagonist (Rama, played by relative newcomer Iko Uwais) enjoying marital bliss – waking with his pregnant wife and preparing for his job – establishing that Rama is just like us, an Everyman. Dressed for action he joins his team in a truck driving towards the tenement and is given his briefing. Who the bad guy is, who his bodyguards are, etcetera etcetera. Lieutenant Wahyu, who is commanding the Raid, makes the point of singling Rama out as a rookie amongst the elite team and gets him placed at the back so as not to cause trouble.
The Raid begins easily enough, the team infiltrates the complex easily enough with some nicely shot manoeuvres, scaling the tower. As always though, after a while they are not quick enough and the alarm is sounded. What follows is a beautifully shot battle between the scum and villainy of the tenement and the 'elite cops', culminating in the film's conclusion.
One of the things that sets the film apart is the form of martial art used, the traditional Indonesian Pencak Silat. The style as portrayed in the film is efficient and brutal in its elegance. The camera work in this film, particularly during combat is brilliant, conveying inertia and potency that leaves almost all of the big budget actions films I've seen these last years, well behind. There is care and forethought to how the actors move on set as well as to what the viewer will see of it. Very rarely does the camera not move fluidly, which keeps the audience's adrenaline running rather than making them queasy, which is surprising considering how close into the fray it gets.
I can't really speak to the acting as I've only been to Indonesia a few times and am not sure what the standards or nuances are for actors there, but it does hold up well compared to western action heroes. Although, being that most of the movie is an action scene, most of the extras just throw punches and take hits with the appropriate screaming and gurgling and thus not requiring Academy Award winning dramatists.
Watching this film I look forward to seeing what Director Gareth Evans, Cinematographer Matt Flannery, and Iko Uwais have in store next. As a second film for the team, this is a great outing keeping me engaged throughout.

I gladly give this film 8/10 for pure entertainment.


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