One of the better martial arts films of the past decade.
The Raid for me represents the same feelings I had for George Miller’s Mad Max: Fury Road, which is this film is just so much fun. As an entertaining action film that incorporates the use of some great martial arts, you really can’t go wrong by seeing this because of how much fun you’ll get from it.
From the moment it starts, The Raid cuts the bullshit and quickly catches you up on the situation. A 20-man elite squad heads into a raid on an apartment block in Jakarta’s slums with the intention of eliminating an infamous crime lord who resides on the top floor. But shit hits the fan soon after and the entire building, which is filled with various mob-related criminals, turns on the squad and the fight for survival begins. A simple scenario but one that I fucking loved watching.
For me, the best action films and especially those that use a lot of martial arts as part of the fighting scenes, are ones that don’t edit around the action and show me people fighting on a nice uninterrupted wide shot. is the pioneer for this and why I think he’s the greatest martial artist that’s ever been on film because everything that he does is exactly what you’re seeing on screen. He’s his own stuntman and there’s no bullshit editing around him to make it look like he’s getting hit when he’s not actually in reality. If he’s copping a punch, he’s genuinely copping a punch. The same goes for people like Tony Jaa or Jet Li who have worked with great directors who know they can get some amazing shots just by letting the camera run on them. This is what The Raid also does so well.
And it’s particularly great because Gareth Huw Evans does so in such tight-knit environments. All of the characters are essentially in the same building and are often fighting in extremely close areas of apartment rooms or narrow hallways. To do all this with minimal editing and longer takes would be incredibly difficult to film but it’s that sort of effort that has been put in which is why I love The Raid so much. I’m watching expert stuntman execute some fantastic fight scene choreography, all the while knowing that they can take a punch or a kick and continue acting because hey, that’s what fucking great stuntman do.
The other exciting part about The Raid that I thought was so fun is with the story choice of using a 20-man elite squad that make you genuinely fear for their lives. I mean yes there is, of course, one main protagonist and a central character who you know is probably going to survive, but the others we’re introduced to are also great supporting wise and you do care about them because they’re a small team against a seemingly endless amount of other bad guys. So now that you have this drastically dangerous scenario that they’re put in, I had no fucking clue of who was going to go next and how many were going to be left by the end of it. The action happens so quickly as well that’s it’s just fucking nuts and adds to the exhilarating factor that I feel for these characters and I love that it feels like the whole Game of Thrones mindset where George R.R. Martin is making you fearful for those that you’re watching.
The Raid does both aspects so well that when they’re combined, I’m having one of the best times watching an action film because it’s everything that it’s meant to be. I want an action film to give me some exciting fight scenes, to make me care about the threats to the lives of the characters and to show a story that’s been well made with a lot of thought put into it. This is what makes any action film fun and why The Raid is one to recommend to friends as something that’s not really heard of but is something that I know is thoroughly entertaining. Sure, it might not be the smartest film in the world but it doesn’t really have to be because it excels on so many other levels and it doesn’t have to. It works for what it is, and I’ll never mind throwing this on as a repeat watch from time to time. Check it out on Netflix if you’re in the United States and see it when you get the chance.