TIFF’s 25 Years of Midnight Madness: Best of the Fest #8 – ‘The Raid’

The RaidThe Raid Redemption
Directed by Gareth Evans
Written by Gareth Evans
Indonesia, USA

Much like Dredd 3D, The Raid is built on a simple premise: A group of police officers in Jakarta invade an apartment complex belonging to a major gangster who lives on the top floor, and electronically monitors all activity going on down below. The storyline is straightforward, and the movie doesn’t waste any time getting bogged down with deep character development nor exposition. There are good guys and bad guys and 131 minutes of virtually nonstop action-packed martial arts mayhem. The particular martial art on display here is the Indonesian form known as pencak silat; and simply put, it is breathtaking to watch.

The Raid, which won the Midnight Madness People’s Choice Award, is one long adrenaline rush. In his third outing, Evans shows he is a master at directing action. The action is brutal, bloody and virtually nonstop – and the fight scenes, which comprise most of the running time, are long, violent, and presented without the use of shaky cam, CGI magic, nor quick cutting. Welsh-born director Gareth Evans has an especially good understanding of how to choreograph and stage these fights and we always have a clear view of what is going on. Characters stab, punch, and kick their way up and down the stairs – through the corridors – through the ceilings – and even through the walls of the building. In one of the film’s many highlights, a character marches on with a jagged segment of a broken fluorescent tube sticking out of his neck. In another memorable scene, the main character Rama, hides in a closet with his wounded colleague, while a thug repeatedly drives a machete through the wall slicing its way just past his face. The story might be thin, but The Raid is a knockout low-budget action spectacle, expertly paced and edited for maximum enjoyment.

– Ricky D


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