“The Raid” is an awesome martial arts movie and drama. It deserves all the praise it has receives and shows that you don’t need much to create a great film, as the premise and even the final reveal are all very simple and arguably predictable…but that does change the beauty of the literal and metaphorical executions that take place throughout the film. This is a film where actions matter and no one is safe.
The film was directed by Gareth Huw Evans who also wrote the film and produced by Ario Sagantoro.
The story involves a police raid on the apartment block owned by the Crime Lord Tama Riyadi. Things soon get complicated when their cover is blown and the rookie Rama must take control of the situation as they find themselves trapped on the apartment block and surrounded enemies from all sides and from within their own force.
The Pros: The Cinematography – The cinematography is beautiful and even very gruesome shots like executions are presented in such a way as to show the humanity of the characters involved and all of what is at stake. Matt Flannery and Dimas Imam Subhono did a truly amazing job.
The Action – This is a martial arts film, but that is not the only action in this…though it is the greatest of the actions especially since Tama’s number 2 Mad Dog will only fight people in hand to hand combat since he sees guns and weapons as too easy. His fights mean something too as he takes out important characters. The fight scenes show just how dangerous Tama is and also how dangerous the betrayer Wahyu is too.
The Characters – Quite a few of the characters are really memorable…be they the heroes like Rama, villains like Tama or the support characters inbetween or who are neither.
Bowo – Bowo is a minor character who gets injured early on, but still manages to protect Rama even when he has a bullet in his gut. This makes him and interesting character as he is already antagonistic, but at his core is a good guy. Tegar Satrya does a good job in this minor role.
Jaka – Jaka is awesome! He is Wahyu’s second in command and holds him accountable for leaving them hanging. He is also the one who calls them into action to go rescue Rama and Bowo. Sadly he never gets the chance though as Mad Dog ends him. He was my favorite character and Joe Taslim does a great job in the role.
Mad Dog – Mad Dog is my favorite of the outright antagonists. This is largely because he is man with a code and only kills if he fights someone in fight, the amount of people he’s facing doesn’t matter and this is no surprise as it takes both Andi and Rama to defeat him. He defeats Jaka and traps Andi and is later torturing Andi when Rama arrives and together they take him down. Yayan Ruhian is fantastic!
Wahyu – This guy is obviously corrupt from the get go but his ability to pretend to be weak gets him really far and is when he learns from Tama that he was sent here to die that he kills Tama and finally submits, showing that as corrupt as he was…there was more there too. I wish we could have got more reasons behind his motivations but I enjoyed Pierre Gruno’s acting.
Tama – Ray Sahetapy plays the primary antagonist of the film and is a great paranoid bad guy. We see how dangerous he is from the get go as he is killing 5 prisoners in his room execution style and when he creates a free for all on the police announcing that the one who murders them will get to stay rent free. He enjoys his power too and it’s awesome seeing him at work. When Andi is shown to be Rama’s brother Tama quickly outsmarts and traps him.
Andi – Andi is Rama’s brother and fell off the map when he started working for Tama. He is the strategist and brains behind the outfit while Mad Dog is the muscle and we see that he has found something he is good at here. He had a rough childhood it is implied but his love for his brother has never gone away and he protects them as they leave the block and when Tama is hunting him. Donny Alamsyah is fantastic in the role!
Rama – Rama is our hero and part of his motivation is the fact that he is going to be a father. It is this information he uses to try and bring Andi back from the crime world but it doesn’t change anything sadly but show what Rama’s motivation is. He does what he does to protect them and his family. He is the traditional hero as we see him go back for Bowo and protect others, though the area he isn’t traditionally good is he does not try or even threaten to bring his brother in…for him their bond is greater than that and he trusts his brother to do the right thing and act with honor. Iko Uwais owns this role.
The Message – The message is that there are good and corrupt people among both criminals and the police as Wahyu kills quite a few of the group and was ready to sacrifice them all in order to move up in the underworld, while Andi put his life on the line to protect his brother from the boss and takes the organization underground, no doubt changing it.
This was the perfect martial arts film. The pacing was perfect, the characters were interesting even if they were tropes, the action was flawless and there were consequences to every action and choice a character made. If a person looks down on Martial Arts films point them to this film. There is nothing I can find wrong with it as it accomplishes all it set out to do and is truly a masterpiece.
Final Score: 10 / 10