FILM REVIEW: The Raid (18)

East meets West and kicks butt in a dazzling collaboration between Welsh-born writer-director Gareth Evans and Indonesia’s most daring fight choreographers and stunt performers.

Truly, Hollywood has nothing on this blitzkrieg of severed appendages and broken bones, which threatens to overdose even the greediest adrenaline junkie on blood-spurting, visceral thrills.

Rookie cop Rama (Iko Uwais) kisses his pregnant wife farewell and heads into work.

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He is part of an ill-prepared SWAT team charged with infiltrating a 15-storey apartment block, which doubles as the headquarters of notorious drug lord Tama (Ray Sahetapy) and his sadistic henchmen Andi (Doni Alamsyah) and Mad Dog (Yayan Ruhian).

Led by Lieutenant Wahyu (Pierre Gruno) and Sergeant Jaka (Joe Taslim), the cops have one simple and admittedly difficult objective: fight their way to the top floor and destroy Tama’s criminal network.

Gaining access to the building, the good guys quickly realise they have stumbled into a trap.

“Cut all communications and lock (the building) down. I’ll call the neighbours,” grins Tama, watching the cops on a bank of CCTV monitors from the safety of his penthouse fortress.

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Over a loudspeaker, Tama offers residents of the block a princely sum to slay the cops outside their front doors and the drug lord watches with sadistic glee as the corridors become a sea of spent bullets and discarded blades.

Andi and Mad Dog are dispatched to slay any stragglers, vowing to show no mercy to their prey: “You don’t shoot cops, you bury them!”

However, they underestimate Rama, whose tenacity and mastery of martial arts is equal to an army of gun-toting goons.

The Raid begins at a deceptively gentle pace, but soon escalates into a 90-minute orgy of carnage and fractured limbs.

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Writer-director Evans establishes Tama’s villainous credentials in a horrifying torture sequence, which sees the gangland boss shoot four potential traitors and then take a hammer to the fifth, prolonging his anguish.

Performances are perfunctory amid the bravura skirmishes, led by the charismatic Uwais, who throws himself into the melee, including one jaw-dropping leap out of a window, which sees him use the disoriented bad guy in his arms to soften the bone-shattering impact with the concrete floor.

Evans hangs his outrageous, death-defying action on a gossamer-thin plot, orchestrating brawls at breakneck speed.

Violence is so relentless and graphic, occasionally we have to wince or look away: not least when a thug tries to flush Rama out of hiding by forcing a machete through a hollow partition and the blade slices into the cop’s cheek.

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There is no respite from the hack and slash - once you are on board this runaway train of slaughter, there is no getting off until the blood-drenched finale.

By Damon Smith


Released: May 18 (UK & Ireland), 101 mins

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