Eye For Film >> Movies >> The Raid (2011) Film Review
Reviewed by: Jennie Kermode
Every now and again a film comes along that has such a powerful visceral impact that little details like plot and dialogue hardly seem to matter. With the best of these, their creators know what matters, and play entiely to their strengths. The Raid is such a film. Though deeply flawed in many ways, it will wow action fans so dramatically that they'll want to watch it again and again.
Bruce Lee is back, and he's Indonesian. Young Iko Uwais has been training in the martial art Silat since he was ten years old. A former national champion, he has moves that will amaze even the most jaded action fan, speed that startles. He may not be the world's finest actor but he's not terrible either, and he's personable enough to have the audience rooting for his character from the start. This character is Rama, a rookie cop who joins a dangerous mission only to discover he's being treated as cannon fodder. Despite being double-crossed, he's determined that not only will he stay alive, he'll rescue his team members as well.
The mission is a raid on a large apartment complex ruled by a kingpin drug dealer. Tama (Ray Sahetapy) is an unusually convincing character of this type, not a fighter himself but an organiser, paranoid, ruthless, convincingly capable of keeping control. He rents out rooms in the complex to an assortment of vicious thugs - essentially, it's a hive of scum and villainy, a den of thieves. Rama is told his unit will succeed in taking this place down where others have failed. But once they are inside, Tama turns out to be more resourceful than they thought, and things get really ugly.
You are unlikely to see a more violent film than this in the cinema this year. The good news is that it's not just selling itself on raw violence. It's (mostly) well paced, stunningly choreographed, and full of inventive set pieces. Strong-stomached dance fans will also fall in love with it. Occasional touches of shoddy CGI can't do too much to spoil the variety of thrilling moves on display, and audiences will spend an hour and a half gripping the edges of their seats, never feeling safe. Even the film's slower moments are filled with menace. Every shadow, every window or open door could conceal a threat.
There are cliches in abundance. Rama's pregnant wife; the bent cops; the twist ending familiar from dozens of computer games (but watch out for a subtler, darker twist at the very end). None of this detracts from the sheer power of the film. Perhaps its most striking feature is that it's completely unselfcouscious. There's not a hint of irony or apologism. Consequently, even the most familiar material feels fresh. Uwais is a joy to watch and by rights The Raid will make him an international star.Reviewed on: 13 Feb 2012
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