Title: The Raid
Starring: Iko Uwais, Ananda George, Ray Sahetapy
Director: Gareth Evans
There seems to be a trend that is occurring in modern action films, the last decade or so seeing a steady rise in 'intelligent action' where plots have their twists, characters are portrayed as gritty and realistic with emotional problems to face and villains, too, have their own twisted desires on display, their long and elaborate speeches preparing you for what's to follow. This is not such a film, taking us back in time to the 90s where the genre didn't always make a lot of sense, where characters were ridiculous in their ability to do what no human should be capable of doing; fighting with injuries that should have long since killed them and a never ending barrage of enemies springing out at every moment. Barely a minute goes by without some sort of weapon flying, gun firing or martial arts stunt is pulled off with precision. The focus in this film is exactly where it should be, on the action, so leave your brain at the door and grab some popcorn to watch the spectacle.
The poster describes all you need to know, 20 elite cops attempt a raid on a 30-floor building; an apartment complex of sorts, owned by a crime kingpin and rented out to criminals of the most dangerous kind seeking sanctuary. Backed by his two loyal bodyguards, the intelligent Andi and the martial arts master Mad Dog, it isn't long before the police realise they've bitten off more they can chew. In fact, the body count racks up so quickly that you're left wondering how on earth they're going to make the film last past the first half hour, but our last two groups of survivors, at this point already thinking 'fuck this, how can we escape;' the lieutenant and commander now without any forces which to command, and a lone rookie who just happens to be something of a martial arts master himself trying to escape with a wounded soldier, they both somehow manage to survive long enough to give us a good show.
The violence may not be quite as bloodthirsty as some action films, the budget likely hampering their ability to depict the more graphic and gruesome deaths (though it rarely feels constrained or 'cheap'), but even though much is left to the imagination there are still plenty of points which will make you grimace. I don't need to see it in graphic detail to know getting impaled in a broken door has got to hurt. Blows look anything but staged, every punch seeming to connect in a very real way as victims get thrown out of windows, down stair wells, slashed, bashed, punched, kicked, face slammed into walls, shot; you could probably name it and it'll be there – one of the most incredible deaths involves nothing more than a broken tube light – and it all happens with such a frequency that you fear blinking in case you miss something. Forget all your CGI filled, modern, stylised, 'intelligent' action films and give me more of this. The acting might be awful and the plot non existent, but in terms of sheer action it can't be beaten.