×
You will be redirected back to your article in seconds

The Raid

Moviegoers may wish the projectionist could replay some of the spectacular sequences in this cop-vs.-gangster fight-athon.

With:
With: Iko Uwais, Joe Taslim. Doni Alamsyah, Yayan Ruhian, Pierre Gruno, Tegar Satrya, Ray Sahetapy.

The final credits roll, listing characters such as “Hole Drop Attacker” and “Machete Gang Member,” only hints at the level of mayhem in Gareth Huw Evans’ “The Raid.” Indeed, moviegoers may wish the projectionist could replay some of the spectacular sequences in this incredible and incredibly violent cop-vs.-gangster fight-athon, in which a SWAT-like unit invades a 15-story building and has to get to the top, floor by floor, to bring down the bad guy. Taking the genre to a higher level of intensity, the Welsh-born Evans continues what he started in previous Indonesia-set actioner “Merantau,” but this pic will seal his cult status.

As efficient as its title indicates, “The Raid” offers a continuous sequence of action with a clear and effective premise: If police can get to the top floor, they have a chance to bring down major drug kingpin Tama (Ray Sahetapy). Complicating matters is the fact that many cops in the unit are inexperienced in the brand of intense urban combat demanded here, and that their corrupt boss, Lt. Wahyu (Pierre Gruno), may compromise the entire operation. That’s about as much plot as the movie is concerned with, or needs.

Popular on Variety

Hard-ass cop Rama (Iko Uwais, “Merantau,” in a star-making role) is clean as a whistle and tenacious as a bulldozer. Within minutes of silently penetrating the building’s interior (the effect reinforced by total silence on a soundtrack that otherwise delivers huge punches of pure, sonic energy), Rama’s men come under assault by Tama’s strategically placed units, including prepubescent spotters and endless supplies of dudes with heavy machine guns.

Tama observes everything on a large bank of monitors in his control room, aided by his ruthless henchmen Andi (Doni Alamsyah) and Mad Dog (Yayan Ruhian). Tama is also able to deliver messages over the building’s PA system, so that everyone can hear his message, “We have visitors.”

It’s the cue for all-out war. The ensuing 90 minutes are largely a hand-to-hand, fist-to-face, foot-to-groin battle, with a few machetes and guns tossed in for good measure. Pic manages to create the sensation of a kind of live-action ride, where Evans as conductor modulates the rise and fall of action, and alternates pace and volume, with selected interludes of story to catch one’s breath. The effect is exhilarating for viewers open to the sheer visceral sensation of the physical experience, regardless of one’s predilection toward fight pics. Still, there’s more than enough close-up, flesh-ripping violence to make even hardened viewers wince.

The pic’s combat style, silat, is an Indonesian martial-arts form that’s a more brawling kind of fighting than more widely known styles. Think of it as the NFL taking over kung fu, but a whole lot nastier, with the action getting wilder the floors — and the casualties in Rama’s forces — mount.

It’s easy to forget the story altogether in the sheer rush of Rama’s fight to the top floor; instead, viewers will wonder how the amazing battle that just ended could possibly be topped. But it is, again and again. A five-minute battle that features flying, snapping body parts particularly displays the elegance in the fight choreography by Evans, Uwais and Ruhian. More than most martial-arts pics, “The Raid” recalls the structure of a movie musical, in which a simple storyline bridges the numbers and sequences.

Ultimately, there’s enough to one of the pic’s side stories (involving brothers on opposite sides of the battle) that, taken in tandem with righting the wrong of political corruption, allows things to end on a dramatically satisfying note.

Moti D. Setyanto’s terrific production design depicts the interiors of this building as a perpetual maze, both vertically and horizontally. It’s not surprising the project took two lensers (Matt Flannery and Dimas Imam Subhono), since the camera often appears to defy gravity in a quest to get fresh angles on the battle. Technically, the pic’s in a league by itself among Indonesian films.

Following this pic’s first Toronto screening, producers announced the soundtrack will be entirely revised by Mike Shinoda of Linkin Park. Though it may add a commercial kick to the film, it does seem curious in light of the brilliant soundtrack on display at the screening reviewed.

The Raid

Indonesia

Production: An Alliance Films (in Canada) release of a PT Merantau Films/XYZ Films/Celluloid Nightmares presentation. (International sales: Celluloid Nightmares, Paris/Los Angeles.) Produced by Ario Sagantoro. Executive producers, R. Maya Barack-Evans, Irwan D. Mussry, Nate Bolotin, Todd Brown. Directed, written, edited by Gareth Huw Evans.

Crew: Camera (color), Matt Flannery, Dimas Imam Subhono; music, Fajar Yuskemal, Aria Prayogi; production designer, Moti D. Setyanto; costume designer, Upay Maryani; sound (Dolby Digital), Suhadi Yuskemal, Prayogi, Bonar Abraham, Sandika Widjaja; sound designers, Yuskemal, Prayogi; re-recording mixers, Yuskemal, Aria Prayogi, Abraham, Widjaja, Jack Arthur Simanjuntak; special effects makeup, Jerry Octavianus; stunt coordinators, Yandi "Piranha" Sutisna, Eka "Piranha" Rahmadia, Esa W. Sie, Rama Ramadhan; martial arts choreographers, Iko Uwais, Yayan Ruhian; action choreographer, Evans; line producer, Daiwanne P. Ralie; assistant directors, Dondy Adrian Senjaya, Mus Danang Danar Dono, Imam Dharmawan Santoso, Ginanti Rona Tembang Asri. Reviewed at Toronto Film Festival (Midnight Madness), Sept. 8, 2011. (Also in Sitges, Pusan film festivals.) Running time: 101 MIN.

Cast: With: Iko Uwais, Joe Taslim. Doni Alamsyah, Yayan Ruhian, Pierre Gruno, Tegar Satrya, Ray Sahetapy.

More Scene

  • NEW YORK, NEW YORK - DECEMBER

    Donna Karan, Mary-Louise Parker Honored at David Lynch Foundation's Women of Vision Awards

    Donna Karan, Mary-Louise Parker and Deborra-Lee Furness were celebrated for their charitable work at the David Lynch Foundation’s 2019 Women of Vision Awards. “We are all being guided to come together as one. There is so much chaos in the world right now,” Karan said, while accepting her Lifetime Achievement Award at the annual luncheon on [...]

  • Bill Hader

    Bill Hader, Greg Berlanti, Margie Cohn and Cindy Holland Inducted Into Variety Hall of Fame

    Variety’s annual Hall of Fame ceremony mixed comedy, gratitude and warmth at the annual awards ceremony Tuesday night at the Four Seasons Hotel in Beverly Hills. Because the class of 2019 celebrates technical innovation and achievement across film, TV, digital, video games and music. The honorees — Greg Berlanti, Bill Hader, Cindy Holland, Dametra Johnson-Marletti, [...]

  • Billy Porter FNAA

    Billy Porter Explains Why Fashion 'Can and Should' Be Activism

    On Tuesday in New York City, a handful of fashion’s marquee names, including Kenneth Cole, Tommy Hilfiger, Steve Madden and Pete Nordstrom, and many of its muses, including Billy Porter, Lena Waithe, Adriana Lima and Paris Hilton, gathered to celebrate the annual Footwear News Achievement Awards — or, as it’s more colloquially dubbed, the “Shoe Oscars.” Activism and the potential for designers to spur [...]

  • Tiffany Haddish Black Mitzvah

    Barbra Streisand Gives Tiffany Haddish Star of David Necklace for Her 'Black Mitzvah'

    Tiffany Haddish rang in her 40th birthday Tuesday night by celebrating her black and Jewish heritage with a star-studded “Black Mitzvah” party. One of Haddish’s famous friends, Barbra Streisand, was noticeably absent from the festivities, but sent the comedian a special memento for the occasion. “She got me this beautiful Star of David,” Haddish told [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content