I want to raid a building full of criminals and fight them with guns and knives. I mean who wouldn’t? I want to have an elite special forces team go on a floor-by-floor ass kicking parade that ends with a bloody stack of bodies. And I want it with amazing martial artists and camera work. Well, looks like The Raid answered my prayers, the newest film from Indonesia and director Gareth Huw Evans.
Having blown audiences away at Toronto, Sundance, and SXSW film fests, this film has had a mythic aura for the last six months. I had heard about it, and then last month I saw the trailer and was sold! The drug lord, played with creepy reality by Ray Sahetapy, tells the tenants via intercom that they have unwanted guests. His slow, haunting drawl, combined with the Indonesian language, makes his evil crawl up my spine. One of the better bad guys to come along on film. His, “Now you’re in my house, bitch,” attitude is perfect, and as the story of the real reason for the police raid unfolds, makes him even better.
The story of a special forces squad that is raiding a drug lord’s high-rise project for less than noble reasons is a great premise. They start at the bottom and work there way up, fighting floor-by-floor, each floor tougher than the last, trying to get to the drug lord’s headquarters. The film is full of great martial artists that are given improvisational freedom during the fight choreography that is breathtaking to watch. If you are not familiar with Indonesian Silat, this film will leave you wanting more of this obscure fighting style. Like what Ong Bak did for Muay Thai, The Raid will do for Silat. Here is what is missing from many a western action film; actual martial artists! Almost all of the leads have studied Silat and some other styles, which make the fight scenes epic! Give these professionals the blank canvas to paint their masterpiece of fists, feet, and knives.
Director Evans uses the core team from cult hit Merantau to pack this film with great talent. Iko Uwais and Yayan Ruhian are amazing martial artists, actors, and fight choreographers. Evans met Iko while shooting a Silat documentary in 2007 and used him in Merantau. This team of Iko and Yayan is what gives The Raid its soul. While a decent story with some nice B-plots, the good supporting cast make this a must see. It is only in NY and LA but get this on-demand or DVD because it deserves your attention. Like, someone tell the director that I’m available to play some stupid American tourist who gets cut in half for his next film, because I just want to see these guys make film after film. Just don’t go in the jungle for two years like Ong Bak did and have a Coppola/Colonel Kurtz freak out. Keep it in the city, jungles make people go mad. Just ask The Rock. He hasn’t made a good film since The Rundown.
Now go Palm Strike yourself to LA or NY to see this on the big screen. And then book a flight to Jakarta because you will never want to come back.