Review: The Raid
Directed By: Gareth Evans
Starring: Iko Uwais, Yayan Ruhian,
The Raid (Serbuan Maut, also known as The Raid: Redemption in the U.S.) is an Indonesian martial arts movie from Welsh director Gareth Evans (no, seriously, he’s Welsh). It stars Iko Uwais as Rama, a rookie member of a twenty man SWAT team that are sent into the slums of Jakarta early one morning to a block of flats which are run by their target, a crime lord called Tama. Cautiously and quietly making their way through the block floor by floor, until they are spotted on the sixth floor by one of the lookouts who warns Tama through the block’s P.A. system.
Tama orders his men to take out the SWAT van’s members in the van waiting outside, and makes an offer to all the occupants of the building over the P.A. – In return for killing the members of the SWAT force, anyone who does so will be allowed to live in the block rent free for the rest of their lives. The SWAT team now, with no way of contacting backup, must fight to survive and escape the block of flats alive.
Gareth Evans has confessed to being a fan of early eastern martial arts movies, and through his wife, found work as a director of a documentary on Indonesia martial art Pencak Silat, where he met Iko Uwais. The two of them worked together on a small movie called Merantau in 2009 and began working on a larger project which they struggled to get funding for. Changing the setting and scaling back the size, they eventually put together the elements that would become The Raid.
Director Gareth Evans clearly has a fondness for the martial arts genre, his style of filming and photography of the movie features traits of 70’s and 80’s eastern martial arts movies while blending it with the realistic visceral feel and attention to detail of a modern western filming style. The action set pieces are huge, with several sequences featuring outstanding coreography which feels real and spontaneous. The violence is graphic, with gun play including fully shown head shots, and knives and machete’s used throughout to brutal effect – there’s a reason this movie has been rated 18 and it is certainly not one for the faint hearted or the squeamish, you will cringe at some of the impacts, and some of the stunt hits had the audience gasping as if they felt it themselves, but you could tell, they were loving it.
The movie isn’t just all action, though the action is a large part of the movie. Spoken in Indonesian, it also features some dialogue and plotting moments which set it above the typical action movie. And anyone who doesn’t like subtitled movies, don’t let that put you off seeing this, it won’t spoil your enjoyment. I’m telling you now, Iko Uwais is a martial arts star, not in the making, he already belongs up there among the greats. Not only does he give an amazing performance throughout all of the fights (which looks like he did a lot of his own stunts), but he also gives an impressive acting performance throughout the movie as the young rookie who unwittingly gets caught up in the situation as he tries to survive the situation whilst also having an ulterior motive for being in the tower block. Watch this guy, he’s the new martial arts sensation and is going to go far. Also deserving of a mention is the main stunt Yayan Ruhian who not only is the fight choreographer of the movie, but also stars as one of the main villains in the movie.
The movie is already set for a U.S. remake (Hence the title renaming over there to The Raid: Redemption), both unwanted and unnecessary, and Gareth Evans and Iko Uwais are working on a sequel to the movie which will be shot in the same way as this movie, and that’s the one of these two that I’m now most looking forwards to. This movie though, deserves to be seen, and compared to the amount of remakes and poorly written/directed movies out there are the moment, you deserve to see it. Treat yourself, avoid most of the other movies on offer at the moment and go see this, you won’t be disappointed.