Raid, The (2011) Review

"The Raid" International Theatrical Poster

"The Raid" International Theatrical Poster

AKA: The Raid: Redemption
Director: Gareth Evans
Writer: Gareth Evans
Producer: Ario Sagantoro
Cast: Iko Uwais, Joe Taslim, Donny Alamsyah, Yayan Ruhian, Pierre Gruno, Tegar Setrya, Ray Sahetapy, Eka “Piranha” Rahmadia, Verdi Solaiman, Ananda George
Running Time: 101 min.

By HKFanatic

Like most martial arts buffs, I was a fan of writer/director Gareth Evans’ and star Iko Uwais’ first collaboration, 2009’s “Merauntau.” But as good as that movie was – and it certainly had its bone-breaking highlights – there was little in it to suggest that the duo were capable of something like “The Raid.”

This film arrives with what feels like a year’s worth of Internet buzz, ever since it premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival in 2011. Sony has finally begun to trickle “The Raid” out into theaters nationwide, now with a soundtrack from Linkin Park member Mike Shinoda, and I’m pleased to report that “The Raid” lives up to the fever of hype surrounding it. This is the movie that we action fans didn’t even know we were craving.

Gareth Evans and company have managed to combine the relentless bloodsplatter of a vintage John Woo film like “Bullet to the Head” with the kind of intensely choreographed, exhausting-just-to-watch fight choreography we would expect after “Merantau.” But there is also a level of brutality here that is rarely found in a martial arts film, linking it with the likes of “Oldboy” and other Korean revenge pictures (I would not be surprised if the early appearance of a hammer is meant as an homage to Chan-wook Park’s film). Wrap all this around a simple but fun premise reminiscent of classic siege flicks like John Carpenter’s “Assault on Precinct 13” and you have a guaranteed fan favorite that we’ll still be talking about years from now. “The Raid” is perhaps the first fight flick to truly impress since Tony Jaa’s “Tom-Yum-Goong” back in 2005; in other words, the bar as been raised.

I’m not without a few nitpicks. Surprisingly, it’s easy to lose focus on Iko Uwais during the film’s first 30 minutes or so, as his character blurs into the background with the rest of his SWAT team. Several of his teammates could have stood for more characterization as well. Sure, most of them are cannon fodder – but what about the guy who holds his own and fights alongside Iko through the narcotics lab? He could have at least been granted a line of dialogue. Some part of me also longs for the days when blood and knife wounds were brought to life via make-up effects rather than computer trickery, but if digital effects allow Gareth Evans to make a film like this for only a million bucks then CG blood is a small price to pay. Regardless, picking apart “The Raid” is like criticizing the color of your parachute while sky-diving. You’re just plain missing the point.

At its heart, “The Raid” is a film that seeks to restore the communal aspect of theater going. See this movie with even a minimal amount of people at your screening and I guarantee no one will be texting or talking during it. Instead, they’ll be hollering, applauding, or gasping at least once every five minutes – and you’ll be right there with them. This film is a shot of adrenaline straight to the heart of any true martial arts or action junkie. Unlike other recent fight movies like “Bangkok Knockout,” “The Raid” comes across as more than just a glorified stunt reel thanks to the immersive cinematography that not only creates an atmosphere thick with mood but manages to capture kinetic action, like two opponents running at each other across a table, in a way that feels new and exciting. The bottom line: Hollywood has some catching up to do. “The Raid” is so adamant about entertaining its audience that it makes most other genre movies look like they’re not even trying.

HKFanatic’s Rating: 10/10

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8 Responses to Raid, The (2011) Review

  1. OpiumKungFuCracker says:

    Love the reviews bro, keep them coming!!!! This is the first time that while watching this movie, I didn’t feel it as if it were a stunt reel like most martial arts movies I’ve seen coming from Southeast Asia, and I’m talking to you Thailand!!!!! This is why a movie like The Raid is so damn refreshing to see and not only that, this shit was at my local cineplexes, lol… When the fuck does that ever happened to Southeast Asians movie period????? I’d like to thank Gareth Evans and company for pimping this thing from the very beginning to making this possible for us Action fans to see this!!! You know what the last Thailand movie I saw in theaters and it wasn’t even at my local cineplexes??? I had to go to a fucking film festival to see it and that movie was, ‘Fireball.’ Muay Thai full contact basketball,hahhahahahahh!!!!!

  2. perantau says:

    the secret of the awesome fight scenes is the cast of The Raid are from real-life martial arts experts…iko uwais is a silat master..joe taslim (jaka) is a national judo champion..the guy who play mad dog (yayan ruhian) is a silat master, he trained the special squad that guards the President..even the nameless thug who plays the leader of the machete gang is a national gold medal winner of Tarung Derajat (an Indonesian mixed martial arts style) -his real name is Godfred Orindeod by the way-

    a good script + real-life martial arts experts = ONE HELL OF AN ACTION MOVIE 😀

    • HKFanatic says:

      Jaka was probably my favorite character besides Iko. Joe Taslim really impressed me in that role. His fight with Mad Dog was one for the ages…!

      Also, thanks for the insight into the cast. Truly a roster of bad-asses and professionals.

  3. pingu305 says:

    That mad dog villain is a beast.I wanna see more from was beyond awesome.Hong Kong,thailand,better tighten up.

    Just bought merantau as well gonna watch it.

    And I hate to say this but expendables 2 ain’t got shit on Raid redemption.

    • HKFanatic says:

      Totally agree with you, The Raid > Expendables 2. By a wide margin. I think you’ll like Merantau. It’s more of a Jackie Chan-style movie and it takes a longer time to get to the action, but the last 45 minutes is basically nonstop fighting. Also, the actor who plays Mad Dog is in it and gets to show off a little off his skills. That guy (Yayan Ruhian) apparently taught martial arts to Indonesian government agents…he’s a beast.

  4. ActionKungFuJackson says:

    People that liked Born to Fight should love this mindless action reel of killing bad guys. The stars acting is wooden and I couldn’t care about any of the characters it was just like watching a live video game. Fun to watch for the action tho, but lacks anything else.

    • HKFanatic says:

      I am one of those people who liked Born to Fight, ha! Though I think the direction in The Raid is more stylish and effective than in Born to Fight. Anyway, I can see why you might feel both movies are more like ‘stunt reels’ strung together to make a motion picture, but personally I find both of them exhilarating to watch. My only complaint with The Raid is that the Blu-ray looks like rubbish.

  5. Arthur says:

    My wife is from Indonesia and did a direct translation of what they were saying. Even though the subtitles show profanity, no profanity was used in this film. Exceptional, hardcore, filled with climatic action scenes and violence. We love martial artist Yayan Ruhian as “Mad Dog”; he was awesome. Great film. Also check out “Ip Man”, “Fearless-Director’s Cut”, “Tom Yum Goong”, “District B-13”, “Chocolate”, “Unleashed” (unrated) and of course “Ong Bak”.

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