Top 10 films of 2012: The Raid

Feature Ryan Lambie 23 Dec 2012 - 22:15
The Raid

Our top ten list of favourite films begins with The Raid. Ryan explains why it's one of 2012's absolute finest...

Over the past few weeks, Den Of Geek writers have been voting for the films of the year. It's a democratic vote, which inevitably means that things end up in a slightly funny order that not one individual writer is likely to fully agree with. Nevertheless, it's a fine list. Here's entry number 10…

10th place:

The Raid

We can watch movies on our little phone screens while in the loo. We can watch movies on our laptops while trundling along on a train journey. There are so many different ways to enjoy entertainment these days, it's easy to forget that movies are at their best when watched on a big screen in a darkened room - preferably with a large, enthusiastic audience.

Perhaps more than any film we've seen in 2012, The Raid is the ultimate audience participation movie. Cheers, laughter and appreciative applause are one thing - and something we particularly enjoyed during screenings of, say, The Avengers or Skyfall - but the sheer number of winces, groans, cries of horror and fractious muttering which followed each violent encounter in The Raid was, in our experience, highly unusual.

On paper, The Raid's plot is flimsy stuff: a 20-strong team of elite cops - among them humble father-to-be Rama (Iko Uwais) - pile into a Jakarta tower block to take out wicked crime boss, Tama (Ray Sahetapy). What begins as a sneak attack soon descends into a claustrophobic fire-fight, and as the bullets run low and bodies begin to pile up, Rama and a handful of survivors find themselves surrounded by floor after floor of violent criminals and no obvious way out.

Director Gareth Evans gives the ensuing scenes of combat, machete attacks and MacGyver-like moments of explosive creativity a tough, unremitting edge which is part 70s thriller - think Assault On Precinct 13, which saw John Carpenter at the height of his ability to create tension - and part survival horror, with its broken limbs and generous spatters of gore. Having established the tone of his movie with a plastic sheet, a few bullets and a hammer, Evans takes us on a gradually escalating procession of wince-inducing encounters, which frequently involve fists, feet, lightbulbs, and high-impact collisions with tables.

The savagery of the violence is offset by the gentle, guileless face of Iko Uwais. With his extraordinary mastery of the Indonesian martial art, Silat, he has a Bruce Lee-like level of charisma and physicality, at the same time matched by an air of vulnerability akin to Jackie Chan. The expert choreography means we feel every punch and kick, yet Uwais' performance makes his character more than just another indestructible action hero - even if he can withstand the kind of punishment that would leave the rest of us in a full body cast.

Then there's Mad Dog (Yayan Ruhian), Tama's henchman and indefatigable assassin. Although small in stature, he's a truly fearsome opponent, and easily one of the most memorable screen villains we've seen this year, with his lank hair and unnerving habit of prowling around before he kicks his victims into oblivion ("Squeezing a trigger? That's like ordering takeout," is how Mad Dog describes his insatiable appetite for a punch-up).

Like his performers, who appear to risk life and limb in performing the film's gonzo indoor stunts, Gareth Evans shows a single-minded dedication to his craft. He uses his low budget (just $1.1 million) to his advantage, creating the impression of a 15-storey maze of grotty corridors and squalid rooms almost entirely on a soundstage. Most martial arts films tend to take place in warehouses or relatively open spaces, but The Raid is always confined - from its opening shots in the back of a police transporter, to its horribly intimate fights in stairwells and descending lifts.

Admittedly, The Raid isn't the most thought-provoking or life-affirming film of 2012. As its critics have pointed out, Evans' film is light on dialogue and characterisation, with protagonists and antagonists sketched in rather than carefully shaded. But then again, the same thing could easily be said about The Warriors - Walter Hill's similarly tough action thriller which was once panned for its superficiality by mainstream critics, but now rightly regarded as a cult masterpiece. Like that film, The Raid has an almost tactile sense of grit and attitude - something largely missing in our digital, scrubbed-up 21st century movies.

Where most studio-backed action movies have to temper every strike to meet the lucrative requirements of a PG-13 certification, The Raid lets the blows and blood run riot. It's a simple, direct movie which, with the right audience - whether it's in a cinema with a few dozen action-hungry viewers, or at home, with a handful of appreciative friends - makes for an unforgettable shared experience.

Could The Raid be the ultimate Christmas panto for action fans? Quite possibly. "He's behind you," indeed. And he's probably holding a machete.

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Definitely a breath of fresh air in the CG-laden Actiongenre nowadays. And the Remake followed quick with “Dredd“... ;)

Awesome flick, I caught it at a very late (11.45pm) one off showing at my local Vue, the only place that had it, there was me, three of my friends and a couple who were sat down the front, the couple left almost immediatley the savagery started (he'd obviously sold it to her as somethng else and not slept with her yet, why else would you leave?) and so we had the place to ourselves, thank goodness we did, we went crazy, shouting, groaning, laughing, cheering, it was easily the best cinematic experience I had in 2012 and re-energised my love of martial arts movies. Great stuff.

HA HA it did didnt it, annd do you know what, despite the virtually identical premise I thought Dredd was easily up there with the best actioners of the year. I was braced for something just.....well, terrible to unfold before my eyes, instead what we got was an incredibley visceral action thriller that i felt was actually enhanced by the 3D. Loved it. PLEASE can we have a sequel.

The Raid is a perfect mashup on Carpenter's Assault, the Oldboy hallway hammer fight, and the stairway fight from Tom-Yum-Goong/The Protector.

troll.

I'll lay my cards on the table, i grew up reading 2000ad so was obviously going to be more excited about Dredd than the raid.
I missed The raid at the cinema so ended up seeing it after Dredd and had to put up with weeks of annoying "it's a remake" and "it's a pale shadow", "it's a copy" comments by self satisfied blokes.
I found the fight scenes in the raid to be be terribly repetitive and of the A team school, i.e. people constanly betting a beating that would land you in intensive care with nothing to show for it. The plot wasn't anything to right home about and it didn't make up for the bland action with anything approaching a thought provoking idea.
No Dredd on the other hand was the complete opposite.

Loved The Raid. One of the best action movies in years,

Whilst I don't think it has to be a case of either/or, I did much prefer Dredd. The action in The Raid was great but I felt absolutely nothing for the characters.

I never caught Dredd in the cinema, which I was gutted about so I've yet to see it, but if it is that close to the Raid then no doubt I will like it when I get round to it.

The early scene you mention with the plastic sheet and the bullets is one of the most perfectly directed scenes of the year. It's so minimalist, yet so terrifying.

It is well known that the makers of Dredd had access to a time machine and after seeing the success of this film, went back in time and ripped it off.

in some country "the raid" in number 1.

in some websites "the raid" in 1st place

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