Review: The Raid – Serbuan Maut (2011)

The Raid – Serbuan Maut (2011)

Directed by: Gareth Evans | 101 minutes | action, crime, thriller | Actors: Iko Uwais, Joe Taslim, Donny Alamsyah, Yayan Ruhian, Pierre Gruno, Ray Sahetapy, Tegar Satrya, Iang Darmawan, Eka ‘Piranha’ Rahmadia, Verdi Solaiman, Alfridus Godfred, Rully Santoso, Melkias Ronald Torobi, Johanes Tuname, Sofyan Alop , R. Iman Aji, Ananda George, Yusuf Opilus, Mus Danang Danar Dono

In terms of his film career, Indonesian actor Iko Uwais may still be a rookie with only two films on his resume, but the same cannot be said in the martial arts field. After winning a number of individual prizes and medals, he became a member of the Indonesian demonstration team in 2005 with the task of introducing and expanding the ‘pencak silat’, as the Indonesian variant of martial arts is called, worldwide. If anyone is cut out for the lead role of the Indonesian action thriller ‘The Raid’ – or, as the original title is, ‘Serbuan Maut’ – it is Iko Uwais. This movie is all about one thing: martial arts.

In ‘The Raid’ Iko Uwais plays Rama, a young soldier who is allowed to join the SWAT team for his first mission. The mission of this team, led by Commander Jaka (Joe Taslim, a professional judoka), is to infiltrate a huge apartment complex in the slums of Jakarta and rid the many criminals who are hiding there. A task that may not seem too difficult at first, but that soon changes when it turns out that the leaders of this gang are prepared for the attack. The complex is filled from top to bottom with armed gang members, who are not willing to surrender just like that.

Soon after a large number of members of the SWAT team have come to their end after some very intense shootouts, the remaining soldiers split up and it is time for Rama to take the lead. Then sit back and relax, because this is where ‘The Raid’ really gets going, and not just for martial arts enthusiasts. Iko Uwais gets every opportunity to show his fighting arsenal to the world and it is very impressive to see how much creativity the makers have put into the countless fight scenes. The absolute highlight is the scene in which Rama single-handedly settles the entire seventh floor of the complex, where dozens of rebels are located. The flexibility, speed and beautiful technique with which he beats and kicks his way through the many opponents are breathtaking. When the clouds of dust have lifted, the whole hallway is strewn with moaning people through which Rama walks at ease and as a viewer you can’t suppress a smile. It is nice to know that the building consists of a total of fifteen floors and this is only the seventh.

The one fight scene is even more beautiful than the other and ‘The Raid’ leaves you wanting more and the action movie lover is richly rewarded. The blood may flow freely, but it never gets dirty or too much. The whole is beautifully portrayed by means of a number of slow-motion images (as known from ‘The Matrix’) and by sometimes taking the shots from above. In addition, it is not only Rama who stands his ground, but also the criminals against whom he has to fight, especially Mad Dog (Yayan Ruhian). It’s great that Gareth Evans has succeeded in making a film full of fights, which nevertheless never gets boring. Despite the fact that ‘The Raid’ takes place almost entirely in the same apartment complex and the fights always take place in small rooms and narrow corridors, the film remains fascinating until the end. Admittedly, the rest of the story is pretty little and because of the many fights, the tension is not always as strong, but when you’re dealing with such talented fighting specialists, it’s also a shame to saddle them with too complicated dialogues. The makers have understood that very well. ‘The Raid’ is a beautiful ode to the martial arts.

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