Director: Gareth Evans
Screenwriter: Gareth Evans
Australian release date: 22 March 2012
Fasten your seatbelts, for Welsh-born Gareth Evans’s The Raid is a roller coaster ride, riddled with some amazingly violent scenes that will have many of you looking at your feet. It features a master of Silat martial arts, Iko Uwais, in the role of Rama, a policeman, and Joe Taslim (Jaka) as the leader of a SWAT team. [Silat is a distinctively Indonesian form of martial art, unlike the more familiar (to Western eyes) styles of kung-fu, karate and ju-jitsu.] The two are part of a team sent into a run-down tenement in Jakarta on a mission to flush out a mobster, and not just any old mobster, but a ruthless drug lord Tama (Ray Sahetapy), who has the building monitored by an elaborate CCTV network coupled to a PA system. This set-up enables Tama to send messages out to his criminal tenants promising them free rent if they thwart the efforts of the invading police.
What follows is a fifteen-storey battle that turns into absolute carnage. Tama unleashes his henchmen Andi (Doni Alamsyah) and Mad Dog (Yayan Ruhian) to get the blood flowing, well, the policemen’s blood at least. There are also numerous other fighters who are referred to in the credits merely as machete gangs, hole drop attackers and AK-47 attackers. Get the picture? The effects are stunning and the violence pretty unrelenting. It is not in any way gratuitous, however, when viewed in the context of the story and its milieu.
The Raid is a tale that is not just about violence; it becomes more and more complex as the layers of conspiracy, betrayal and corruption unravel. Matt Flannery’s cinematography (he also worked with Evans on Merantau in 2009) is excellent, as is Evan’s editing. They are both vital to successfully capturing the brilliantly choreographed fight scenes. Credit should also go to Moti D Setyanto for his very effective production design.
There are moments during this very confronting, but exciting film, when I wondered if there was going to be anyone left standing. If this genre appeals to you, you should check out for yourself one of the best gang warfare films you are likely to see this or any other year. I just hope that Hollywood (in the inevitable re-make) doesn’t sign up Bruce Willis for the job. It just wouldn’t be the same.