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I walked into the Raid knowing nothing about it. The film quickly introduces us to Jaka (Joe Taslim), one member of a twenty-man police squad in Jakarta. The premise of this film (written and directed by Gareth Evans) is the squads plan to raid a building run by ruthless drug lord, Tama (Ray Sahetapy). The first half opens on the SWAT team raiding the building in full tactical gear and it has better action choreography than most Hollywood films. With fighting techniques as polished and perfectly captured as these, gamers as well as action film buffs will absolutely love Raid.
Also incorporated into the story is Rama (Iko Uwais) a young cop who says goodbye to his pregnant wife one morning and joins his SWAT team in an ambush of the grimy tenement building. Iko is an extraordinarily dexterous martial artist who also starred in Merantau and could, I assume, murder anyone reading this. As an actor, he delivers his lines suitably. As a fighter, he destroys everyone who challenges him. His character often takes on several opponents at a time, dispatching them with thrilling efficiency and resourcefulness.
Uwais, Evans, and the large cast of mostly anonymous fighters come up with enough different ways to kill each other to keep things interesting, but nothing so elaborate or inventive that it seems contrived. Kills are not followed by one-liners. This is serious business. That intensity is what makes it so electrifying to watch.
Between the no-frills action scenes, the plot is fairly generic, dealing with elements like dirty cops and personal vendettas, slowing the movie a little into a routine dialogue/plot development cycle, however these short lived moments are blown away by the intense fight scenes and insane stunts.
As a fast-paced, non-stop action film, The Raid meets, and beats, every expectation.
By Caitlin Pianta