Film review: The Raid

Finally, I got around to watching ‘The Raid’ (aka ‘The Raid: Redemption’)

A vicious drug lord rules an abandoned/not abandoned tower block from his 17th floor citadel. Protected by a network of CCTV cameras, and by the underworld tenants of the block, his fiefdom is lean, brutal and controlling.

A squad of elite police are tasked with taking back the tower block, and capturing the drug lord.

That’s the general synopsis. If I give anything else away it would be spoiler fodder, and I wouldn’t want to upset your enjoyment, if you get the opportunity to watch this film.

Tower Block was written and directed by Welshman, Gareth Evans, and filmed in Malaysia with a local cast and crew.

Much of the action is hardcore, brutal, unrelenting.

The martial arts style is a blend of street fighting and established styles/genres. There’s quite a lot of judo underpinning the streetfighteresque Kung Fu.

Unlike the beautifully choreographed fight scenes in a Luc Beson film (think Transporter 2), the martial arts in The Raid have the untidy grittiness of reality.

As much as I admire Luc Beson’s choreography, sometimes it comes across as being too stylish, too flashy, to be real. The fighting in The Raid harnesses the relenting brutality of martial arts in the real world.

The film is dark, is darkly lit and the script is, well, dark.

However it strains the mind to imagine the difficulties a Welsh writer/director must have had, producing this no-frills action film in Malaysia, using local talent.

A quick word on the talent.

Iko Uwais plays the lead with understated style. He’s very watchable, and the camera enjoys its time on him. Backing Iko up is a significant character who looks disconcertingly like Dan Akroyd.

Dan Akroyd

See what I mean?

The film is neatly wrapped with a subtle soundtrack that enhances the finished article, without overwhelming the viewer.

I loved The Raid, despite the unrelenting brutality.


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