Sunday, 11 March 2012
FILM REVIEW: THE RAID
Written and directed by Welshman Gareth Evans, The Raid is an Indonesian action film. An almost non-stop barrage of action to be precise.
That action takes place within the one apartment building as a police SWAT team covertly enter the premises with the aim of taking the building -- one floor at a time -- and apprehending the major crime baron ensconsed on the top floor. It's Attack The Block, literally. And it's a hellava lot of bloody good fun.
Of course, it's not too long before the police presence is known (CCTV is everywhere, plus the residents are only too happy to rat them out and stay in good with their crime lord landlord) which sees us not even half way into the film before the majority of the squad are wiped out -- both by gunfire and machetes -- and just a handful are left.
One of those survivors is the baby-faced Rama (Iko Uwais), who has an expectant wife at home and a surprise waiting for him in the building. He may not embody the archetype of a Hollywood action hero, but Rama is a Mighty Mouse, as adept with his fists and feet as he is with a gun and machete.
Fittingly, the Mighty Mouse's biggest obstacle to survival is Mad Dog (Yayan Ruhian), another pint-sized dynamo whom you don't want to cross fists with. Ruhian has two major set pieces (the second with Uwais), and both are awesome displays of highly choreographed action. Not quite balletic but beautiful in their own bloody, bone-crunching, skin-tearing kind of way.
Call it The Bourne Effect, but a lot of action films of the '00s have succumbed to the hyper-edited style which cuts the action together rapidly without clearly distinguishing what's actually going on.
The Raid makes for a refreshing change. All of the action set pieces are so precisely choreographed, every action and reaction is discernible no matter how quick fire the movements: the action is the point of the film (though at a mere 100-minutes, it's almost too much).
Re-named The Raid: Redemption for its US release makes it sound like a sequel, or more appropriately a video game given the high level of action and the various (literal) levels it takes place on.
And that's not meant as faint praise or a backhanded compliment: The Raid works as an exercise in perfectly executed, relentless action. That may mean that character development is minimal but when it's this stylish and this much fun, it's forgiveable.