Brutal - Mad Dog in The Raid
When I heard there was an Indonesian action film written, edited and directed by a Welsh director, I was intrigued and excited. The Raid sees director Gareth Evans and actor Iko Uwais collaborate for a second time, giving the martial arts action genre a good roundhouse kick to the head; delivering brutal action and leaving nothing to the imagination with wonderful fight sequences. The Raid is also a showcase to the world of the Indonesian martial art of Pencak Silat. In terms or cinematic martial arts, Bruce Lee showed us Jeet Kune Do, Jet Li; Wushu and Tony Jaa; Muay Thai. Now we have Iko Uwais and Pencak Silat.
The storyline is simple: Jakarta's most dangerous crimelord, Tama Riyadi, controls a run down apartment building housing mostly gangsters and murderers. His building is notoriously secured and protected, evading any previous attempts at a takeover. Now a twenty man SWAT team, including rookie cop Rama (Iko Uwais), attempt a raid to finally take Tama down. We're allowed only a few brief moments in the ordinary world before being thrown straight into the dismal and claustrophobic hallways and rooms of this crime ridden building. When the first gun fight sets into motion, it’s a chaotic blend of hard hitting documentary style mixed with creative shots and inventive action. As the first onslaught finishes there’s a brief moment of calm to digest before Iko Uwais's Rama unleashes his first hand to hand combat fight; unexpected so soon after the first action sequence yet it was welcome. Evan's appreciation of Asian martial arts film mixed with his modern style filming was perfect. Iko Uwais and Yayan Ruhian - who plays the relentlessly evil Mad Dog - have choreographed brutal and inventive fights, using as much physical contact as possible to make them realistic.
The plot and character developments are thin but there are enough revelations and realisations to keep you thinking; it’s not all violence and action, plus Iko Uwais's charisma holds throughout the film. Questions will no doubt be raised over the detail of the violence, as nothing is left to the imagination and whilst I have seen my fair share of violent films even I found myself flinching at a couple of very visual deaths. That said, hopefully the violence doesn't become the sole focus of The Raid because it is a brilliant martial arts action movie. Evans balances the way the action sequences are shot really well with wide shots that show the fight – and martial arts skills – in full and minimal use of fast cuts and edits. I only hope Hollywood takes note on how to utilise great fighters and choreographers to give us more fights like this.
It was refreshing to see an 18-rated movie in an era where most movies aim to be family friendly. It was also refreshing to see something that exhilarated and excited. In 2003, Tony Jaa's wowed us with his fights, sheer strength and skill in Ong Bak, not since then has a martial arts film felt as raw and creative until The Raid. Evan's creative filming style and passion for martial arts action films alongside Uwais's martial arts mastery created a fresh, raw and energetic film that’s pure action entertainment.
The Raid official website