If Asian cinema has taught us anything over the years, it’s that people like seeing people getting smacked in the teeth. Still, with hundreds, nay, thousands of chopsocky titles out there, you’d be forgiven for thinking the genre had few surprises left. Still every once in a while a martial arts film comes along that’ll blow your bollocks off. Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, Ong Bak and now The Raid.
Born of a love of eighties Jackie Chan starrers, Welsh-born director Gareth Evans’ little film is undoubtedly one of the most entertainingly visceral pieces of cinema to crop up in years. Set amongst the slums of Jakarta, a group of 20 SWAT officers storm a 30-floor apartment block in a bid to rid the Indonesian capital of one its most feared villains. However as soon as they get into the grim high-rise, it’s abundantly clear that they’re going to have to work their nuts off to get out alive.
It’s a simple premise used to brilliant effect – a pretty loose framework on which to hang bone-crunching brawls, which we get in abundance. From the intro until the credits start rolling, not a minute goes by where someone isn’t cracking a skull, ripping someone’s throat or smashing a femur. It’s bold, brutal, bombastic mayhem.
Despite the wild premise of a handful of cops cleaning 30 floors of goons, it never feels too far-fetched as even the best scrappers in the film are prone to moments of clumsiness and a distinct lack of grace, meaning you’ll be wearing out the edge of your seat wondering who’ll win each showdown due to some punch not landing quite right. Quite simply, it’s one of the most fun action films to emerge in years. It’s showy, hilarious carnage and it’s absolutely not to be overlooked…unless you’ve got a weak stomach for claret, in which case steer well clear.
As for the Blu-ray itself, the picture is beautifully crisp. Lightning-fast kicks and punches are delivered without a hint of sluggishness in the picture transfer. Similarly, the many, many dark scenes are stark and feature very little in the way of artefacting. It’s a truly sensational picture. The audio is no slouch either as every punch, every knee-breaker and every face-to-floor smash is rendered with claustrophobic clarity, sonically putting you in the building with the unlucky rozzers.
The extras are equally impressive. You get your standard fare such as the director’s commentary (which is exclusive to the UK edition by the way – so be smug about it) and trailers, but the disc also boasts the extended version of the movie, a fascinating Q&A with the oddly humble director, Gareth Evans, and other delights such as a claymation remake of the film featuring plasticine cats as well as a fan-made trailer for an anime version. There’s a good few other delights on board as well to ensure your entertainment long after you’re done with the main feature. The result is a fantastic disc for a truly sensational film. It really can’t recommended enough. Buy it and watch it immediately.
Final verdict: If you like watching people being thrown through windows, having their kneecaps stomped and being blown up by fridges, then The Raid will tick those boxes. So stop reading this and go buy it. Go on. Off you go.
Theatrical and original UNCUT version.
‘Claycats: The Raid’
The Raid Fan Films
Behind the Music with Mike Shinoda and Joe Trapanese
An Evening with Gareth Evans and Iko Uwais
Reviewer: Jordan Brown