The premise for The Raid is simple, as is often the case in martial arts films, but the real joy is in the execution of the action. Welsh-born Gareth Evans writes and directs this Indonesian film and is the man responsible for discovering the star of the film, Iko Uwais, who plays Rama.
Just as the films of Tony Jaa brought us the martial art Muay Thai, Evans' films are bringing to screen the martial art known as Silat. Silat involves lots of use of blades and this is evident in the film's action sequences as knives are used in ways never thought imaginable before. It goes without saying that this film is not for the faint-hearted. Rarely does a scene go by without graphic violence or blood being spilled. That is not a criticism of the film however, as each fighting scene is choreographed in spectacular fashion. The skill of lead man Uwais, complemented by the editing of Evans, leads to wonderfully executed fight scenes where every action is organic and none of the violence seems gratuitous.
The plot of the film follows a police SWAT team as they aim to raid a dilapidated tenement building that is being run by a menacing drug lord, Tama. The building is infested with all types of bloodthirsty criminals, intent on killing the police in return for free stay in the building. Tama orchestrates the chaos from the fifteenth floor, observing the action on multiple security screens with his two main enforcers by his side, Mad Dog and Andi.
The action is full of tension and has a welcoming amount of variety to each scene. It is clear to see a star is born in Uwais, with his action scenes breath-taking at times. He has real presence on screen and manages to convey at least some degree of emotionality to the role, with an early scene of him and his heavily pregnant wife. As the plot progresses there are several twists in the story, as members of both sides change allegiances. This keeps the story fresh and interesting and leads to a brutal and entertaining climax.
The action sequences are the true hero in this film, and if you can see past the graphic violence and appreciate the choreography of each scene then you will love this film. If you aren't fond of repeated violence then I would stay away from this film.
Given that I am a fan of well-executed martial arts films, I give this film 4.5 stars out of 5. This score is based purely on what the film is trying to achieve, and how well it achieved those aims.