Director: Gareth Evans
Cast: Iko Uwais, Donny Alamsyah, Ray Sahetapy, Yayan Ruhian
Plot: A SWAT team track a crime lord to a block of flats, unaware that the building has been converted into a fortress of soldiers.
This movie shouldn’t have worked. One day, British director, Gareth Evans, was filming a short documentary in Indonesia, when he noticed that one of the students at a local school, Iko Uwais, had great charisma and a camera presence. While not an actor, the guy knew his martial arts and was confident in front of the camera. This led Evans into writing a gritty action powerhouse, all set in one location, echoing the great Die Hard, and with this unheard of Indonesian, Iko Uwais as the leading man.
You may have heard of this movie from movie magazine, Empire, as they went crazy about it a while back. A British director making the new Die Hard with some unheard of actors. It could go either way and Empire were banking on it coming out on top. Don’t get me wrong, this is a great film, but I can’t help think that Empire’s hype kind of killed the excitement for me. When I was watching it, I couldn’t help feeling it was awesome, but not as perfect as Empire made it out to be.
Evans is the true star here with perfect direction. He makes every punch count and has complete control over the tension throughout the piece. It really does feel like the first time you watched an action movie. Every explosion and slash of a machete really sends chills shooting down your spine. The highlight of the film for me was Uwais battling the group of men with machetes, as you were literally wriggling in your seat, unable to tear your eyes from the screen. Simply put, this is unfiltered, high-octane action and it shouldn’t be any other way.
There isn’t really much of a story to put against the action. Being a foreign language film, English-speaking viewers will prefer this, as it is pretty easy to keep up with. One shot shows us the cops in a van outside a block of flats and then it cuts to the three lead bad guys executing hostages. That’s all we need to know: now the action can get started. The story does have a few twists and cool endings for character arcs that pushes it a little further than a mindless action thriller, but they are easy to keep up with. Just don’t let the whole ‘foreign language’ film put you off, because it really is the kind of film you need to at least see once if you like your action movies.
I can see what Evans means that Uwais has a natural presence on the camera. Although he doesn’t really act in the obvious sense, he looks confident on screen and even before his character is focused on, we are given a sense that he is the guy to keep an eye on this movie. In an interview, the actor said he acts through his fighting and that is certainly true as we see. The guy can fight. He moves almost too quick to keep up with and will keep you at the edge of your seat throughout the whole 100 minutes of running time.
My one problem with the movie is that by the final fight you’ve almost had enough of the action. It’s hard to explain, but when the awesome is kept up to a ten throughout the entire film, it becomes the norm and loses its effectiveness. The final fight, although epic, lasts a little too long and the extreme nature of the battle gets lost on the audience. Maybe the action needed a little variation, although it is a very limited storyline. Don’t get me wrong, this movie is incredibly awesome, but it isn’t as moreish as one would have hoped for.
Final verdict: The Raid takes us back to the first time we saw an action movie and rekindles all of those feelings. An epic, edge-of-the-seat action.
Whaddup, readers. Please, feel free to give me requests on what movies you think I should be reviewing. Any movie at all. From low-budget indie movies to a Seventies classic. Or maybe a good old-fashioned 2012 blockbuster. Just drop a comment below and I will see what I can do for you.
Lots of love, Luke ‘I Can Move Like Jagger’ Abbott