The film that sets the standard for modern action cinema
‘The Raid’ subtitled ‘Redemption’ for American release is a modern action masterpiece. The sheer volume and incredible quality of the action is proof of that, and many great action films can be traced back to The Raid and how it has pushed boundaries.
I grew up watching Arnold Schwarzenegger, and other 80s action films, and those remain some of my favorite movies of all time. While there is nothing wrong with them, The Raid is the one that got me into higher level, expertly choreographed action. The kind of action that Id be willing to waste time to watch a straight to DVD/Netflix film to watch, and still get enjoyment out of. The Raid’s influence can especially be seen in the late Daredevil’s hallway fights: tracking shots of perfectly executed and choreographed carnage, but I digress.
‘The Raid’ takes place in Jakarta, Indonesia, and is about an elite SWAT like team who must, raid a squalid high-rise, and take down the drug/land lord within, at the very top. It sounds like something out of a video game and that simplicity is perfect for the film. Directed by Gareth Evans (who would later direct The Raid’s sequel and Apostle), the man protagonist is Rama, one of those men tasked with taking down the drug lord Tama (Ray Sahetapy), portrayed by Iko Uwais who is quickly established as a good man and badass fighter, but also a good hearted rookie. He is joined by other members, including the unsympathetic Jaka (Joe Taslim) the near opposite of Rama’s likable protagonist, and a host of other men, some functioning as cannon fodder, others posing as adversary’s against Tama’s legion of goons.
While the film has incredible action, it also has an interesting story to tell. This really sets it apart as most action films nowadays will either have awesome action and a weak story, or a weak story and even weaker action. This was my introduction to Iko Uwais, and this is the film that motivated me to watch a movie if I saw his name prominently on it. He owns the role of Rama, and pretty much catapulted himself to one of my favorites. Rama could’ve been dull with somebody else, and it wouldn’t be as good as it is without Uwais.
Now, more detail on the action. This film’s action is gory, visceral, fast paced, and everything you’d want out of an action movie. While some films may have issue with the quality and quantity of their action, the Raid’s is exhaustingly good, and it was very refreshing to rewatch and appreciate its perfection all over again. There are no lazy, nauseating messy cuts trying to hide any actual action, it is all out martial arts action, culminating in an awesome final boss battle.
Even after years passing and watching a host of other excellent martial arts and action films, The Raid, even upon rewatch still feels fresh and an awesome time. The combination of Uwais and a host of almost otherworldly talented martial artists/stuntmen with excellent choreography is one that I will never be tired of, and ‘The Raid’ is absolutely one of the greatest action films I have ever seen, and there is no excuse for a Netflix subscriber who’s into action not to watch it.