Martial art films are an entertaining genre. Usually, they are simple plot wise, but pulling off a good martial art film is a big challenge; pulling off a great one, a monumental task. “The Raid” is one such great movie. Released on 23rd March 2012, and directed by Gareth Evans, this is an action packed movie, which leaves you at the edge of your seat all along the way.
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The story revolves around Rama (played by Iko Uwais), who is part of a 20 man elite police squad. They have a mission to raid a tenement in Jakarta’s slums. The building is run by a crime lord, Tama Riyadi (played by Ray Sahetapy), who rents rooms there to criminals looking for refuge. Tama has two lieutenants, Andi (played by Donny Alamsyah) and Mad Dog (played by Yayan Ruhian). To add to the complexity of the situation, Andi is Rama’s estranged brother. What follows is a series of floor to floor, and room to room fighting. Initially, it might seem like the advantage lies with the police, but it is quickly revealed that they are greenhorns.
Despite having a decent amount of firepower and a relatively better trained squad, they are picked off one by one, their advantage nullified by the criminals who stay in the building. Utilizing his knowledge of the building to the fullest, Tama masterfully marshals his forces and the policemen soon turn from the hunter to the hunted. Tama later sends his lieutenants, Andi and Mad Dog to clean up the survivors. It is here that we get to witness why Mad Dog got his nickname. Upon capturing the head of the squad, Officer Jaka (played by Joe Taslim), he challenges him to a hand to hand duel, saying he wants to feel what he kills. Shooting someone is like ordering take away, it’s too easy. This scene is a good demonstration of the martial art, Pencak Silat. The fight sequence is intense and well done, due to both actors being trained martial artists themselves. There are no dramatic moves or emotional moments, just two men going all out, trying to kill each other. Scenes like these define this movie.
There are moments where the tempo slows down, sometimes drastically, allowing the audience to get a breather. Then the tempo is increased again and the movie ends with a relatively positive note. The use of colour in this movie is deft. The various tones of greys, with the blue uniforms of the police all come together to form a depressing setting. The grimy nature of the building, the narrow corridors, and the realisation that the only way to get out is the same way they came in, all add to the feeling of being hunted. The feeling of biting off more than you can chew. These elements just drive home the point that the police must do something extraordinary to get out. It prepares the audience for something spectacular. The events that follow do give something spectacular. Another unique aspect of this movie is that the actors involved in the main action sequences are all highly trained martial artists themselves.
There are barely any explosions in the movie and most of the action is raw and realistic. Hence, despite having a limited budget, the movie is not left lacking in any aspect.