Gareth Evan’s claustophobic breakneck action film is pure simplistic brute force. It relies simply on being the cinematic equivalent of opening a coconut with a freight train or squashing a watermelon with a sumo wrestler but it taps wonderfully into that reckless intrigue which inhabits all of us in wanting to watch those things in painful, splattering, pummelling slow motion.
Here it is. A truck full of highly trained, special elite forces ops enter a 20 storey building to take it from a crime boss and his endless supply of martial arts trained super crooks. We spend most of the film with rookie Rama (Iko Uwais) as he cracks, stabs, kick, shoots, falls, gauges, bleeds and limps his way through the armies of drug dealers to a few obvious and uninteresting twists. He is of course soon to be a father although there’s hardly any chance he’s never going to make it out.
It’s not rocket science film making and although the threat of not feeling anything (beyond “ouch”) for anyone is constant throughout, its the set pieces, fight choreography and sheer brutality which will make certain that every muscle in your body hurts with tension by the time the film comes to it’s wobbly end. It’s messy, frantic, bloody and great fun and although I’d like to wax lyrical about any obvious nods to Hard Boiled, Assault on Precinct 13 or Die Hard, The Raid stands alone as a low budget, and startlingly crafted 2 dimentional excuse in pure savage entertainment.