Film of the day: The Raid

The Raid

The Raid is an martial arts action film that fully lives up to the hype? This is a seminal action movie; 101 minutes of almost non-stop gun-toting martial arts action and a pulse-quickening foot up the backside for modern martial arts cinema.

Deep within one of Jakarta’s most notorious slums is a high-rise apartment block, home to the city’s most notorious criminals – gangsters, junkies and murderers – all ruled over by the iron fist of a fearsome drug lord. It’s a 30-floor fortress which is considered nearly impenetrable and all who have attempted to assault it have failed.

That’s something that the authorities hope to change and so an elite SWAT team is sent in with the mission to sweep the building and eliminate anyone/anything they encounter. But as they break in under the cover of darkness, they swiftly realise that the biggest challenge will be staying alive long enough to get out.

Initially, it seems that The Raid might follow the same formula as many action movies that have gone before it. After all, other than being set in Indonesia, on the surface there’s nothing new. The gung ho heroism and the simplistic dialogue is par for the course as are the sketchily drawn characters. Even the villain conforms to the expected cold-blooded laconic villain type.

But where The Raid excels, nay triumphs, is in its execution. Far from the close-up shaky cam that has become the preserve of movies like The Bourne Trilogy and Daniel Craig James Bonds, the action here is filmed wide, so you can see what’s going on. Fight scenes are long and brutal and often filmed entirely in one take, emphasising not only the athleticism of the practitioners but the fluidity and the effectiveness of the martial arts.

The result is breathtakingly visceral and unlike anything that’s been in cinemas for years – bones snap, joints are wrenched, and every bad guy gets seven kinds of hell liberally beaten out of him. Seeing Iko Uwais tearing through a horde of bad guys in a corridor, each of whom is wielding a machete or knife is a thrill that has no equal in modern cinema.


The Raid – Thursday at 00.25pm  on FilmFour.