The Raid, or Amazing Feats of Survival as it should be known, is a no-holds barred action flick that isn’t afraid to push the genre’s boundaries.
What Gareth Evans has made here is a stylish testosterone-charged action romp. Transposing Indonesian fighting into a thirty storey tower block, it shamelessly runs riot with its storyline, pitting good against bad in a claustrophobic nightmare. The premise is simple enough; a SWAT team plans to raid a tower block run by a tyrannical mobster and filled venomous murderous tenants. Of course their mission isn’t as easy as it sounds – groups, both legal and otherwise, have tried and failed before them and they soon face irrevocable differences within their team.
Though the action sequences are sporadic at first, they soon build in momentum and by the end you get the feeling you’re on an action movie rollercoaster. No-one’s safe and no-one remains unharmed. Most of the fights involve a SWAT team member taking on a group of thugs single-handedly, and it is the choreography in these scenes that truly immerse the viewer. Evan’s direction complements the film whilst the overall style of The Raid gives it a slick finish.
The violence throughout is bloody and not for the faint-hearted. The criminals are ruthless and the audience are treated to repeated gory scenes involving bullet wounds to the head, hammer blows to the neck as well as some rather inventive death scenes. Indonesian wailing provides the backdrop to many of the fight scenes but the soundtrack adds subtle tension to the story.
As well as its action scenes, The Raid pumps a significant amount of terror into its 101 minute run-time. A lot of this terror comes from the closed-surroundings (the main protagonist Rama (Iko Uwais) being pinned behind a wall by a sword being of particular note), but the tension is aided by the ruthless Mad Dog (Yayan Ruhian), a man who takes pleasure in hand-to-hand combat, leading to a particularly nasty scene where he uses a man as a punching bag.
As well as packing in enough fighting scenes to satisfy the most needy of action junkies, The Raid manages to squeeze in some interesting twists amidst the destruction. Though the film doesn’t visit every one of the tagline’s ’30 floors of hell’, it sure makes up for it in the ones that it does. The film is a non-stop action thrill ride that is as stylistically pleasing as it is fight-filled.