The Raid has proved a difficult film to pass judgement on. It is in no way a bad film and it is, moreover, one of the better action films of recent cinematic efforts and far outstrips anything such as the recent Jason Statham release, Safe, for example; that film was just a rehash of multiple other action pictures but delivered with one tenth of the quality.
In The Raid writer/director Gareth Evans shows us (or at least showed me) something we’ve never seen before as a SWAT team storm a tenement building filled with disposable bad guys on every one of its 30 floors, with multiple and varied styles of death and execution along the way; everything from guns and knives to hammers and a doorframe is used in the film to maim, bludgeon, and destroy the opposition. One by one, the SWAT team is picked off until only three or four remain in a battle to the death with the crime lord who owns the building. The plot is simple and straightforward in any language and anyone who doesn’t like subtitles (for this is an Indonesian film) shouldn’t be put off – and should also learn to appreciate subtitles.
The opening 30 minutes is excellent as the film picks up the pace quickly and it’s not long until the action begins and it reminded me of the way Speed is set up; it gets the detail out of the way in the opening few minutes and clears the way for nonstop thrills. However, unlike John Woo’s Hard Boiled, to which this has been wrongly compared to, The Raid is mostly martial arts and fist fights, rather than the ‘ballistics ballet’ of Woo’s cinema – and this is the main reason The Raid lost its appeal to me from the halfway mark onwards. The film turns out to be a continual fight sequence, broken up by a change of location and this, for my tastes, is not exciting for such a prolonged period of screen time. I prefer my action to be guns and explosions, with a great fight to end with (Lethal Weapon and Die Hard being perfect examples of this balance) rather than what The Raid offers. That said, Evans has made a very competent film featuring some excellently choreographed fights and not a shaky-cam in sight. The script, however, is very weak and there are some needless twists along the way which slow the film down but add very little to the enjoyment of it.
Ultimately, if hand to hand combat is your thing then The Raid is the perfect action film for you. I, however, got a little tired of the relentless fighting, but have no gripes with the film making and would certainly recommend at least one viewing.
(On another note; the punctuation and grammar of the subtitles was atrocious and the worst I’ve seen either at the cinema or on DVD.)
Morbometer™: 6.9 OUT OF 10