What is the best way to evict a block of flats full of criminals? You could simply serve an Eviction Notice and then have an Eviction Day where you remove those who reside inside it. Alternatively you could just get a swat team together of 20 cops or so and then evict the place room by room. This idea does sound a lot more promising given the circumstances of the residents; however this plan could also easily backfire, as shown in The Raid.
Written and Directed by Gareth Evans; The Raid (or The Raid: Redemption as it is known in America) is an Indonesian Martial Arts Action Film which has to go down as one of the all-time greatest action movies in the history of cinema. To be honest I have only recently seen this film. I had heard of it before, but it was not until I saw The Raid 2 (my second Favourite Film of 2014) back in May that I wanted to and got round to seeing the first Raid film.
The film is set in the slums of Jakarta. Police officer Rama (Iko Uwais) is a member of a 20 strong swat team squad led by Sergeant Jaka (Joe Taslim), Officer Bowo (Tegar Satrya) and Lieutenant Wahyu (Pierre Gruno). Their mission is to raid a block of flats and capture crime lord Tama Riyadi (Ray Sahetapy) who lets out his flats to criminals hoping to evade the authorities. His building is like a fortress and supposedly today’s mission is not the first time something like this has been done. Tama also has two lieutenants; one said to be like a Mad Dog (Yayan Ruhian) and the other called Andi (Donny Alamsyah) who has control over him – and is also Rama’s brother. The swat team arrives and quickly gains access to the building. They briefly detain a man who is trying to deliver pills to his sick wife before proceeding to clear each floor and all of its residents one by one. Just as they clear the first few floors, the team is spotted by a young kid who manages to raise the alarm. Tama tells the buildings residents of the situation and calls a few people from around the area to prevent the team’s escape.
The team is then ambushed by the residents who kill a great number of them. Jaka learns from Wahyu that the operation has not been officially sanctioned; as such, no reinforcements will come to their aid as they do not know where they are. The remaining officers take refuge in an apartment where Rama creates an escape route by hacking away at the floor with an axe. Bowo gets injured in the chaos and Rama takes out a large number of residents by using the fridge as an explosive device. The team then splits up with Rama taking Bowo to safety and Jaka, Wahyu and Dagu (Eka ‘Piranha’ Rahmadia) go hide in a shower block. Tama meanwhile sends Mad Dog and Andi to go empty the dead resident’s coffers to pay for the buildings repair. Rama takes Bowo to the apartment of Gofar (Iang Darmawan); the man they detained earlier. He reluctantly hides them in a wall space. A machete gang then come looking but do not find them. Rama leaves Bowo to look for Jaka but then runs into the machete gang. He fights them off in an epic struggle only to find himself having to run away from another group. He is then found by Andi.
Jaka meanwhile is cornered by Mad Dog. Wahyu and Dagu flee with Mad Dog challenging Jaka to a fight, which Mad Dog wins with ease. Rama tells Andi that he knew Andi was there and tries to convince him to come home, telling him that he is going to be an uncle to Rama’s son. Andi though decides to stay, but tells Rama to wait until the coast is clear. Mad Dog drags Jaka’s body back to Tama. Tama however spots Andi with Rama and Mad Dog turns on Andi and takes him prisoner. Rama meets up with Dagu and Wahyu and suggests they go after Tama to get safe passage out of the building. They fight their way up the building, through a narcotics lab and to Tama’s room. Rama sees his brother being beaten up by Mad Dog and splits to help him out. Mad Dog releases Andi just so he can fight both brothers. Mad Dog gains the upper hand and is about to win until Andi stabs him in the neck weakening him enough to kill him.
Wahyu meanwhile finds Tama but betrays Dagu by killing him. He takes Tama hostage, but Tama tells him he knew about the operation for several days and tells Wahyu that he has been betrayed by his higher-ups. Wahyu kills Tama, before he tries to kill himself, but runs out of bullets to do so. Andi gives Rama tape recordings of Tama taking bribes from corrupt cops to be used as evidence. Rama tries to convince Andi one more time to come home, but Andi tells him that while he can protect Rama in his world, Rama could not do the same for him. Andi uses his power over the residents to grant safe passage for Rama, an injured Bowo and a detained Wahyu out of the area.
The Raid’s story and setting is actually quite simple, at least to begin with. The setting of a raid means there is plenty of moments for action as well as break points to explain story elements and delve into characters’ lives. The film’s setup in its first act-30 minutes is pretty much all done and the film gets going very quickly. The character development that takes place within this time is rather simple in itself without revealing too much and does not take too long to get to the core themes and setting of the film. The story does get a little more complicated as it goes along but it gives plenty of moments of reveals and questions answered so nothing goes unanswered by the film’s end while also leaving enough detail in to allow a future film. Iko Uwais character of Rama is brilliant setup and ready within the first 5 minutes and his character is explored a lot with in the first 30. Beginning with his personal life, his wife and expected child not only shows that he is in fact human instead of just being a cop. These scenes also give the audience reason to root for him as well as feel for him as he has something to live for, and as an audience member you want to see him survive what he is going through.
The Raid has a lot of really enjoyable primary and secondary characters. Sergeant Jaka is enjoyable from start to finish. While his character is of the hard-nosed leader of the operation along with Wahyu, he has a great deal of compassion for those under his charge. While from start to finish his hard-nosed outlook on the current situation is ever-present his caring side always blossoms. His death at the hands of Mad Dog is a compassionate note for the film as from start to finish he remains one of the film’s best characters. Andi meanwhile is an interesting character. His position is an interesting contrast to that of Rama and being his brother adds a little of flavour to both characters and the situation. While Rama is obviously a good honest person trying to do his best, Andi is in a position of power within the Indonesian underground. Andi however does a moral level of humanity in him as he still cares for his brother and helps him leave, but also has a level of control of Mad Dog which prevents him doing something completely brutal. Mad Dog meanwhile is completely like his name sake. He rarely talks in the film at all but has a deep level of mistrust of Andi as well as a high level of respect of Tama. Mad Dog sort of sees the situation as an opportunity to do what he loves, which is that of fighting his way and killing people. Much like Jaka, Mad Dog is extremely enjoyable to watch, particularly during his fight sequences but also when he hardly does anything at all. He has a strong on-screen presence and adds a touch of flavor as well as conflict to the scenes he is in. His enjoyment for a fight also brings a lot of promise for the films huge amount of action and fight scenes.
Tama meanwhile is a very casual villain who does not appear to really lose his rag and is calm for most of the situation. It makes a nice change from criminals and gangsters constantly losing their rag and instead having a level of enjoyment and exuberance in what they do. Tama’s situation and presence also allows him to have an extra level of commitment to what he does as well as a level of enjoyment. Especially in the early moments when he calls for help, tells the residents his offer and takes in what the cost of repairing the place is. Gofar meanwhile is a nice example of what good honest folk are forced to do in a situation when they have next to little or no money at all. Gofar and his wife are forced to live in the terrible conditions of the flat they have chosen; however it is clear that they might not have an option. While the police’s outlook on the situation is that it is full of criminals, there is also their failure to understand what motive is behind people’s choices and that not everyone is a bad person. Gofar, though grumpy, does have a little bit of compassion for the police’s plight and does believe in the goodness of other people, particularly Rama, who he hides and looks after Bowo while Rama looks for the others.
Wahyu meanwhile is a symbol for the corruption in the police and the desire to be one of the higher-ups and not necessarily a grunt, even though his look and age shows a modicum of respect his way, especially how Jaka initially feels towards him. Wahyu however is there to get his chance at the big time when in reality his actions are just going to bring bad news and disaster to him, both from the corrupted and the uncorrupted with in the police. While she may only get one scene, Rama’s wife (Fikha Effendi) does add a nice touch to the Rama character. Without the scene with her in it would have been harder to feel for Rama’s character. Her presence in the scene is one of caring too, but as the situation of the film is yet to be revealed, her ending shot reveals a level of sympathy for Rama but adds a question for the audience to think about before it is answered very shortly. Several of the film’s minor cops have a nice brief moment here and there, but one of the characters that of particular notice is the machete gang’s leader (Alfridus Godfred). He is a brutal killer and leader. When he searches Gofar’s apartment, his attitude in his language towards him is a brilliant scene. He is unrelenting and horrible and gives a savage depiction of a brutal killer. His on-screen presence is almost as if not as strong as that of Mad Dog. He is more of a mid-level boss character to the film, next up being Mad Dog but adds a level of spice to the action and human scenes but also adds a level of longevity to the film to allow it to continue without being too quick a film and increase tension and expectancy for the audience towards the film’s final moments.
The Raid’s soundtrack is nicely composed by Mike Shinoda (though this is the soundtrack for The Raid: Redemption). It features many brilliant pieces for specific moments while also maintaining a similar theme in themselves and to the film’s situational theme. The opening piece for instance starts with a more peaceful harmonious note than to its ending which brings a level of severity to the situation and prepares the audience for what is about to begin. The film’s soundtrack in general is quite similar to one another but helps to ramp up the tension but also give a level of background activity to the situation and help to place it. A few that really stood out for me include the opening serious drumming beat, and the moment where Tama calls in help from the neighbours.
It has a lot of similarity to the films credits score. The credit’s score itself starts off rather peaceful as it begins when the violence is all over. It then builds to a point and as the film truly ends, it leaves on a high note of acceptance and relief as the situation is over, even if the future is uncertain. The film’s soundtrack altogether is rather enjoyable and well worth a definite listen out for.
The film’s action moments though are quite easily its most enjoyable and stand out feature. The level of violence is at the level of extreme at its lowest point. The level of extreme violence though plus the effects of what this violence does to the characters, including their injuries is something of a necessity as it makes this film really stand out from the start. The level of violence also makes the film incredibly realistic and shows a high level of detail in the film’s choreography, and make up. It also gives the films characters an extra level of detail in the Martial Art of Pencak Silat which is on show and choreographed by the film’s stars Iko Uwais and Yayan Ruhian. While to the casual observer the violence could look unnecessary, over the top and uncalled for, the martial arts on show as well as the result of the films violent actions give it that extra level of detail that makes this film truly stand out. Alongside this violence includes terrific use of weapons and moments including the jump out of the window, the machete through the wall and every fight scene featuring Ruhian and Uwais. Alongside this though there are some other brilliant scenes that do not rely on violence including the early shots of the Jakarta slums and the rain pouring down on the van.
The Raid is altogether one fantastic film. It’s level of violence and action could be a turn off for many a movie goer, but it’s more than just huge amounts of violence. It’s a film with a great level of emotion and drama in a simple but detailed and interesting story delivered by the films terrific cast. The setting is rather simple and so is the story but still maintaining enough mystery too adds twists and turns. The films characters are all terrific in their own spotlights with plenty of showcased reasons to cheer and root for them as well as boo them and enjoy their brutal ends. The soundtrack is a fitting choice for the film and has been well crafted and composed. The level of violence is at the high point of realism and one that any film made since The Raid is going to struggle to replicate and provide. It’s an all-round great film with each point delivering as well as backing up each other point too. The Raid is a truly brilliant action film that is definitely worth a watch for both fans of action movies as well as unseasoned action movie goers. While its level of violence will undoubtedly put many people off, but for those who are willing to stomach it, are in for a real treat.