A nonstop melee of gun battles, punching and kicking with some of the best physical choreography I’ve ever seen.
The story, as straight forward as it is, follows a squad of police officers sent into a high-rise building controlled by an underworld tyrant to take him down. Unfortunately the tyrant’s calculated living has the building filled with criminals and outlaws dependent on his survival. What follows is fifteen floors of ultra-violent, urban combat. Take your favourite action movie and times it by ten. Unlike many Hollywood action movies that rely on teaching A-list celebrity stars how to fight (and use choreography that isn’t explicitly dangerous) Indonesia’s The Raid never pulls its punches; you will wonder how many bones must have been broken during filming! While the film starts out with pitch gun battles, the situation becomes desperate for the small team of police. Without backup, they resort to hand-to-hand combat, using knives, machetes, chairs, even broken halogen lights. The film is very bleak, visually grey and blue with colours regularly muted, intensifying the building’s condemned appearance. Everything is stark and broken, but very real. One element that is lacking is characterisation; you are given the bare bones of substance, just enough to be carried along, and very occasionally scenes lack detail. But this film’s purpose is not to tell a unique narrative, it is to show real fight choreography; there’s no quippy one-liners, no flashy explosions or Statham lookalikes, no phoned-in romantic sub-plot. If you like physical, kinetic action films then The Raid is a must see; the action is free-flowing and unbroken, making all other action films feel stiff and staged. It might not say much, but sure does pack a punch.