Verdict: 4 / 5
The most important and probably the only ingredient in Raid is action. There are no pretensions. Director Gareth Evans is concerned with nothing more than leaving a high body count and showcasing a number of great martial arts scenes. Filmed in Indonesia, with a completely Indonesian cast, the only real language anyone will understand here is brutal combat action. Forget the storyline, forget the character development, Raid plays out like a ruthless old-school martial arts ballet focused on delivering bone-crunching, head-shooting, neck-breaking mayhem. It’s undeniably one of the best action movies in ages.
Action films have long been criticized for their lack of character development, poor acting, and paper-thin storylines. Gareth Evans clearly understands this and dodges past all the usual clichés – no frills, all thrills. He forsakes lumbering beefcakes in favour of Iko Uwais, a rising martial arts star. And while everything might point to a video-game-like film, Raid in fact feels more like a survival horror thriller.
The title Raid is a dead giveaway for the story; a group of elite law enforcement officers raid a high-rise building run by a ruthless crime lord on the top floor. They are forced to fight off an army of henchmen, mostly junkies and drug dealers, which grow increasingly tougher as their progress from floor to floor. Amongst the cops is Rama, a rookie who is determined to stay alive and return home to his pregnant wife. When the raid goes horribly bad, due to bad planning and some dodgy leadership, the remaining group bands together with Rama in the lead.
The fast-paced action is delivered via extensive fist (and feet) fights, with some gunplay thrown in here and there. Machetes, knifes, guns, filing cabinets and light fittings are all thrown into the ultimate smackdown. It’s action all the way, only pausing for short moments of dialogue here and there. This is serious business. There are no one-liners.
The Raid: Redemption is high on testosterone and adrenaline. Actions fans beware; you will be hooked!