I first watched The Raid a couple of years ago with my best friend in Reading. It was just before midnight, the cinema was surprisingly busy and I was tired as hell. I thought that there was no way I could stay awake for the whole hour and forty minutes of the film’s running time.
Well, I stayed awake alright. Straight away let me just say I have one negative point about The Raid – it is relentless. I felt physically exhausted after watching it and I am certain it had nothing to do with my tiredness that night. In fact, I know it wasn’t because I’ve recently re-watched it and I felt the same way. After the half hour mark, this film goes at breakneck speed until the credits start to roll. Frankly, it is hard to fully digest and enjoy everything that this remarkable film has in store.
And it is just that – a remarkable film.
The Raid is about an Indonesian Police squad trying to infiltrate an apartment block ran by the most fearsome gangster in Jakarta. Let’s just say that things don’t go to plan.
I’m not an expert in martial arts films by any stretch of the imagination, but I have seen enough to acknowledge that there is something different about The Raid. The wonderfully choreographed fight scenes in this film never feel pointless – they add to the narrative of the film. And the story, which is widely believed to be the weakest element to this film, is not as bad as some critics suggest. I found it surprisingly strong and compelling.
And of those fight scenes, wow, where do you even start? Extraordinary, breathtaking. mesmerising – I am just throwing words about here at the moment, but you get the drift. I have watched this film twice and both times I couldn’t believe what I was seeing. I found myself trying to work out how they achieved such beautiful brutality on the screen without harming the actors.
There is a scene where the main character, Rama (Iko Uwais) and his gone-off-the-tracks brother, Andi (Donny Alamsyah) take on a character by the name of Mad Dog (Yayan Ruhian). So to be clear, this is a 2 vs 1 situation – and during the majority of the sequence the 1 feels like he has the upper hand. You gasp, you jump, you shadow punch and kick along with the actors during this fantastic set-piece. It is one of the most jaw dropping insane fight sequence I have ever seen. Even after repeated viewing there is simply nothing predictable or conventional about the scene – it took my breath away. And Mad Dogg… goodness me – frightening.
Badass – that is the only word I can think of that adequately describes The Raid. I came out of the cinema feeling like I have seen the future of action films and frankly, as the film still feels fresh today, I think I was right.
Oh, did I mention it is directed by a Welshman?