Serbuan maut aka The Raid: Redemption (2011)

(On DVD, June 2013) There’s been a surprising dearth of competent action-moviemaking lately; the rise of Bourne-inspired shakycam directing, coupled with the apparent decline of the Hong Kong film industry have led to more generic action movies without flair or excitement. But here comes relief from an unexpected source: Welsh expat Gareth Evans, working within the Indonesian film industry to produce a bone-crunching martial-arts extravaganza. The best thing about The Raid is its simplicity, as policemen stage a raid against a multistory mob safe-house. When things don’t go as planned, it’s up to a lone cop (Iko Uwais, quite credible as an action hero) to punch, kick and smash his way back out of the building, taking down a crime-lord along the way. (Yes, Dredd also worked along the same lines. In this case, similarity is not a bad thing.) The premise works best as a thread on which to hang the action set-pieces, all of which are directed with a generous helping of long takes allowing the action to shine. Those long takes also reinforce the brutal nature of the fights, the punishment endured by the characters and the sense that the stuntmen are truly earning their money on this film. There are a few extra flourishes of emotional connections here and there, but The Raid largely remains focused on the action scenes, and that works to everyone’s benefit. Lean and mean, The Raid is one of the strongest pure-action films of the past decade, and it brings to mind the heydays of the Hong Kong action film industry –high praise indeed.

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