Sometimes you hear about an upcoming film, it’s gathering momentum with the hype machine, but everything you see about it gets you excited, so you help the hype machine by hyping it yourself. You get so amped for the film that when you finally sit down to experience it, it’s bound to disappoint, to not quite live up to the superhuman expectations you had for it.
The Raid was like this, in the beginning, but it changed course when I sat down in that dark room we call a theatre. Rather than not living up to my expectations, this little movie far exceeded my expectations, and now lives in a coveted space in my memories as the most intense action film I have ever seen.
The Raid has a simple premise, an elite special-forces team sets up a covert mission to infiltrate a mob bosses 30 story apartment block slash headquarters, and bring the brutal crime lord to justice.
But as with all simple plans, this one goes south very quickly, and in fact, we get the feeling right from the start that not everything is as it seems.
Martial arts films are known for their fight scenes, not their plot twists, but with The Raid, there is only one predictable part of the whole film, everything else, whilst essentially a backdrop to this one hour forty-one minute fight scene, is a journey into the unknown, with some vicious twists that will blind-side you more violently than the onscreen action.
Written and Directed by Gareth Evans, if you boil The Raid down to it’s simplest level, it is essentially the same thing repeated over and over; choreographed martial arts destruction. But Evans knows what he’s doing and every single fight scene is more intense than the one before it. It’s this level of adrenaline laced visceral violence that has you on the edge of your seats from the time the first bullet ignites to the time the credits roll.
Whilst the action is intense, it’s also so beautifully filmed that you get the feeling you’re watching an intricately performed ballet with an absurd attention to detail and enough blood and bodies to make Eli Roth wet his pants.
Put simply, The Raid raises the bar so damn high, it’s going to be a longtime till any martial arts film, in fact any action film, lives up to the standard that Evans has set.
Reviewed by: Jonathan Read