Dishing out a swift and devastating array of brutal and deadly blows, 2012’s The Raid can be credited for bringing the Indonesian martial art of Pencak Silat to the world stage in glorious and blood-thirsty fashion. In doing so, Indonesia-based/Welsh-born director Gareth Evans reinvigorated the martial arts genre and served up one of the best action films seen in years.
Set almost entirely in a dank and impenetrable apartment block in Jakarta, an inexperienced rookie cop, Rama (Iko Uwais) and a 20-man elite SWAT team are charged with taking down Indonesia’s top drug-lord and mobster, Tama Riyandi (Ray Sahetapy). To do so they must infiltrate a fortress that provides sanctuary for every other gangster, killer, murderer and bad guy in all of Jakarta.
With a simplistic and predictable premise, the film can be forgiven for not caring too much for complex plotting or anything better than surface-level character development. Evans’ direction of Iko Uwais and Yayan Ruhian’s stunning and electrifying fight choreography more than make up for the film’s narrative flaws. Unlike other action romps, with their tightly shot and edited, and mostly indiscernible fight sequences, Evans directs and captures his action so that the viewer can see and feel everything. Nothing is lost to cheap camera trickery that attempts to hide the actor’s lack of ability. His stars are on full display, all the time.
The action and explosive carnage in The Raid is nothing short of breathtaking and promotes Iko Uwais as the poster-child for the genre. His youthful good looks and exceptional speed and ferocious combat skills position him as a modern Bruce Lee.
Comedian Dylan Moran once said he loves action movies because the modern man needs to outsource their masculinity via the likes of action-stars like Jason Statham. After seeing The Raid, I certainly can’t argue against that notion.