The Raid is as intense as action movies get. A group of Indonesian police invade a tower block in Jakarta inhabited by boss, Tama, who’s running a drugs factory from the top floor. The drugs raid quickly turns deadly when the police are seen by one of Tama’s young spotters. The police fight their way through the floors, but their mission turns to one of escape as they are assailed by the building’s volatile residents.

The Raid is an impressive display of action. It’s a showcase for varied martial arts, including Judo and Silat, the traditional Indonesian martial art. The action is spectacularly choreographed with astonishing performances from Iko Uwais (as Rama, police rookie) and Yayan Ruhian (as Mad Dog, Tama’s guard). As the relentless action moves from guns, to knives, to fists, it is not only impressive but also convincing, looking both painful and exhausting.

It’s a fast paced film that doesn’t dawdle in introducing its main characters. Within minutes, the police are breaking through the tower block’s outer defences. While the plot develops to include themes of family and corruption, The Raid is not weighed down by back-story and sub-plots. The focus is on the action and this is what makes it so exceptional – The Raid certainly plays to its strengths. And, although it’s delivered in a foreign language, there is so little dialogue that it doesn’t feel like a foreign film.

The Raid’s setting is perfect. There is an atmosphere of modern warfare about the neglected apartment building and the precision with which the police assault upon it is carried out. Moving inside, to the unknown territory of the building’s dark corridors and suffocating rooms, it feels both oppressive and threatening. Director of photography, Matt Flannery brings creativity to the camera work, making excellent use of shadows to create tension and fear.

In The Raid, Welsh born writer and director, Gareth Huw Evans, offers up an immersive film. A scene replicating the sensation of blacking-out, using high-pitched sounds and distorted background noise, particularly stands out. The Raid also has a spectacular soundtrack that is finely tuned to the choreography, heightening the tension scene by scene.

The Raid is a rare action thriller that’s not laden with cliche, making it refreshingly unpredictable – at no point does the outcome feel like a foregone conclusion. The Raid shows that, with style and flair, the simplest plots can be some of the best. It’s intense and visually spectacular with mesmerising action and impressive performances from a skilled cast that shouldn’t be missed.

VERDICT: ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪ ✪

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