THE RAID (2012) Review

Directed by: Gareth Evans
Starring: Iko Uwais, Joe Taslim, Donny Alamsyah

If anybody tried to tell me that an almost plotless Indonesian action movie was going to be one of the best and most exciting films of the year I probably would have told them that they were fucking crazy. First of all the only other Indonesian movie I can recall seeing was RUMA DARAH (MACABRE) and that was decent at best. And secondly, as much as I enjoy a good action movie I will be the first to admit that they are rarely ever brilliant. But now all of a sudden THE RAID has come along and blown my fucking mind.

As I mentioned there's barely anything you would call a story here, but what there is of a story revolves around a group of 20 SWAT officers who are preparing to infiltrate an apartment building. But this is not just any building, it's a hive of scum and villainy which is reigned over by a crime lord named Tama. Tama is the kind of guy who thinks that he's invincible, as the building has been fought over by warring factions many times in the past and he's still top dog. He dispatches his men (and his two right hand men Andi & Mad Dog) to take out the cops while he sits on the 15th floor monitoring everything. There is some subplot involving cop Rama (Uwais)'s brother but that's really not too important. Basically this is a big building filled with an assload of bad guys carrying knives, machetes and guns.

I also mentioned earlier that this is an Indonesian movie and therefore no it isn't in English and yes it you will have to read subtitles. I know this gets some people upset and there will no doubt be people saying things like "But I can't read at the same time that I'm watching stuff happen!" Don't despair though, because since there is minimal plot the dialogue isn't really that important for the most part, and while the movie is running along at full throttle (basically all the time) there is hardly any dialogue to worry about. So basically what I'm saying is that you can still watch THE RAID while ignoring the subtitles and still know exactly what's going on. Perfect.

Now since this is an action movie I suppose I should say something about the action sequences. First I will say that they fucking kick ass. Then if you were to ask me which ones were the best I would reply by saying "all of them!" That's right, every single fight scene or shoot-out in this movie is amazing. This is a very punchy, stabby, shooty movie chock full of violence and some of it is actually pretty brutal. I don't mean in the sense that there are people tearing each others limbs off or biting out throats of anything like that. (there aren't) but I mean simply in the way that everything is done without hesitation. A cop unflinchingly shoots a kid. Another has a bad guy on the floor and pumps not one, or two but three bullets into his skull. You know, just to make sure. And another repeatedly slams a guy's head against a concrete wall.
Everything about the action sequences is brilliantly done. The choreography, the way everything is framed and there are even some kickass super slow motion parts. One scene where the muzzle flare from a shotgun lights up a pitch black room and you see shadows moving across the walls in slo-mo is just fucking excellent. And the Indonesian martial art Pencak Silat really adds a nice flavor to the whole film.

But surely THE RAID has its negative points too, right? Well yes and no. You could easily criticise the weak plot and the imperfect acting and dialogue, but that would be like criticising a drama for having shitty action scenes. This kind of movie doesn't need top shelf acting or a deep plot, in fact a more in depth story would have just slowed things down, and that's exactly what THE RAID doesn't need. And just to prove how awesome this movie is, a US remake is already in the works (I'm not saying that's a good thing, just that it proves how good the original is). Go see this movie. Now.

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