Originally reviewed on Monday, February 27, 2012 following a screening at JDIFF 2012.
I don’t think anyone was quite prepared for the JDIFF screening of The Raid at the Savoy and what we got didn’t disappoint.
To read this next paragraph will probably take longer than the set up for the film. It tells the story of a SWAT team commissioned with taking down a local drug lord who has total command of a block of flats. He rents rooms to all types of rogues and vagabonds and it has become a no go area for the police, until now. The team consists of about twenty man who subsequently get mowed down in about 5 minutes. The remaining few must use all their skills to try and survive the nightmare they have found themselves in.
The film is almost a real life, incredibly violent and bloody Street Fighter. The troop must go from floor to floor encountering a different type of gang trying to reach the 15th level where the final boss is lying in wait. Along the way we are given a masterclass in the art of Silat Harimau. This is what the director, Gareth Evans based his first film Merantau on, and he has teamed up again with his main actor Iko Uwais. Iko plays Rama a rookie amongst the team, but what he lacks in experience he makes up for in skill.
The fight scenes are incredibly crisp and seamless in their composition. This leaves the audience gasping with glee at the sight of a man being hacked at with an axe or having his neck impaled on a broken door frame, not to mention the ingenious use of a fluorescent bulb. The action flows thick and fast and never really lingers on a gruesome moment so as to sicken the audience more by giving them a quick electric jolt before moving onto the next installment.
It was a great treat as well to have both Gareth Evans and Iko Uwais present at the screening. They were able to explain the sheer logistical nightmare it is to put a film of this nature together, sometimes needing over 50 takes to get just one shot. Gareth seems to be genuinely touched by the reception the film is getting every time it’s shown and, as he put it, is relieved that there are people as sick as him. We also discovered the film is now part of a trilogy with this first installment being called The Raid: Redemption and the re-make rights have already been sold to America.
At this screening there was much hooting and hollering which is very uncharacteristic for Irish audiences but it felt warranted as this was a special screening and it will be interesting to see the reception in a normal setting. The film isn’t just all action, there is a decent storyline if a tad cliched that runs through it, however to mention any of it would be giving too much away. Die Hard in my opinion is still the best action film ever made and it probably always will be for many reasons too long to go into here but The Raid certainly gives it a run for it’s money. The only bad thing is we won’t be seeing it on our shores again until May.
Indonesia / Directed By: Gareth Evans / Written By: Gareth Evans / Starring: Iko Uwais, Joe Taslim / 101min / Action / Release: 23 March 2012 (US/Canada), 18 May 2012 (UK/Irl)