The Raid (15)
A frantic, cacophonous blood-soaked action thriller boasting more bullets than D-Day, The Raid is the kinetic Indonesian flick that has got Hollywood so hot and bothered that a remake is already in the works.
Big budgets and studio clout aside I seriously doubt the original can bettered for its sheer ferocity, energy and body count. It also introduces a performer with genuine star quality in Iko Uwais, playing a young SWAT trooper at the heart of an operation that goes horribly wrong.
Rama (Uwais) is part of an unauthorised raid on a concrete tenement “hotel” for villains in a Jakarta slum – seven floors of killers all looking to pop a cop. The SWAT squad is quickly whittled down to just a handful, spread over several floors, and all at the mercy of an army of seemingly unstoppable thugs, bandits and psychos. Like rats in a trap, they seek an escape.
Reminiscent of Bruce Lee’s final opus Game of Death, in which Lee battles his way through a mysterious pagoda with a different opponent on each floor, The Raid pitches its heroes against a formidable army of foes.
An array of gruesomely inventive deaths is delivered via intricately choreographed fight sequences that crank up the violence in bone-crunching fashion. One scene – a stand-off between Uwais and four machete-wielding bad guys in corridors and a tiny room – has to be seen to be believed. It is all terrifyingly claustrophobic.
Fans of the genre will see hints of John Woo’s early work. But Evans never lets the momentum slip. Thus Uwais and his cohorts are constantly bombarded with more and more adversaries until, inevitably, they are faced with Mr Big himself and his two attack dogs.
The Raid moves at a lightning pace barely conceivable to the naked eye. An hour passes in a flash. The film’s only drawback is that there is rather too much of the same in the second half, and the constant sound of gunfire, screams and snapping limbs begins to wear one down.