By Leah Quinn

These days most action movies that Hollywood tends to throw our way contain some sort of pubescent Twilight heartthrob with the main aim of the movie being to fit his scantily clad chest into almost every scene. 

Having impressed audiences atToronto, Sundance, and South by Southwest, this action-drenched fast-paced thriller goes back to the old rules of action movies and doesn’t rely on doe-eyed faces to provide its entertainment. 

On first glance many may be put off by a sub-titled Indonesian action movie with no familiar faces, but this becomes irrelevant as the infectious tension The Raid creates for an audience can only be enjoyed. 

On viewing this movie I came to the realisation that perhaps the best way to describe it is the love child of both Kill Bill and Speed. This unpredictable offspring offers us the quick witted martial arts skilled heroes and villains of Kill Bill and the edge of your seat excitement of Speed (without the extra layer of Hollywood cheddar). 

But in hindsight it seems a little disrespectful to compare it with others as many of its cast have been national martial arts champions in Indonesian from a very young age, which surely kicks Keanu Reeves’ insufferable surfer-esque diction any day? 

This movie begins as most action movies do by laying out quite clearly who the good and bad guys are for the audience. They also provide us with the premise for the movie within the first five minutes – that being a huge foreboding apartment block which has been acting as a hub for the city’s main crime lords and ran by the most dangerous gangster of all needs to be brought down- and ten minutes in, they are rising to this task. 

Accompanied by a score composed by Linkin Park musician, Mike Shinoda, Jaka, played by Joe Taslim, leads his troops into this derelict high rise hoping to clean it out floor by floor. 

This plan all seems to be running smoothly until they reach floor five when the head honcho uses his series of CCTV cameras and intercoms to rally together his bloody-thirsty tenants. It is then that the movie starts to take more twists and turns than a Scottish highland road trip.

In fact just when you have got used to who indeed is on the side of good and evil, the tables are turned as a labyrinth game of bloody survival erupts, the bullets run out, it’s machetes at dawn, and the audience, along with the actors, are left wondering who can truly be trusted. 

The movies main character is Rama, a headstrong member of the SWAT team with the obligatory pregnant wife waiting at home for his safe return. Lucky for us, and perhaps quite unlucky for the bad guys, Rama is played by Iko Uwais, an actor who has trained in Indonesian martial arts, Silat, from the age of ten. 

This rare cast of highly talented actors provides for some seriously jaw-dropping fight scenes with moves that make Jackie Chan look more like a ballroom dancer. 

One particular fight scene lasts close to 15 minutes which resulted not only in possible heart- failure for all watching but also applause on its eventual end. It can only be assumed that this along with the odd witty joke incorporated into what is for the most part a serious script was intended to give us that often much needed moment of relief in an action-packed movie such as this. 

Gareth Evans manages to create a fast-paced adrenaline rush throughout which can be tasted by all and is provided mainly by his cleverly chosen premise, his unpredictable villains and his fearless hero. 

If like me, you have seen enough action movies which resemble more of a wet t-shirt competition than a thriller then you need to make it your purpose to see The Raid. It does exactly what it says on the tin- and even though what it says on the tin is in Indonesian- this breathlessly-paced action movie translates to sheer entertainment in any language.

About The Author

Simon Fitzjohn

Simon is a journalism tutor in London, who also just happens to be a movie fanatic, with a craving for the darker side of cinema. He has written two books, one on the horror films of director Bob Clark (2014) and the other on the history of the character Norman Bates (2015). His third book, on the work of British exploitation director Pete Walker, is due in 2017.

  • Quinnrm

    great review…looking froward to seeing it.