The Raid (2011)
By: Devon B. on October 20, 2012 | Comments
Sony | Region A, B | 1.78:1, 1080p | Indonesian/Bahasa DTS-HD MA 5.1 | 101 minutes (Full Specs)
The Movie
Cover Art
Director: Gareth Evans
Starring: Iko Uwais, Joe Taslim, Donny Alamsyah, Yayan Ruhian
Screenplay: Gareth Evans
Country: Indonesia, USA
External Links
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I never bothered to check out Merantau because from the trailer it looked like an Indonesian knock off of Ong Bak. Being the genius that I am, when I popped on the highly acclaimed The Raid and saw it was by Merantau Films, I said, "Hmmm, I wonder if this is by the same people that made that other Silat movie?" It is by the same people, and I probably shouldn't have ignored their first film.

The Raid opens by introducing the viewer to a cop who has a pregnant wife. He's getting ready to go on a raid, which I think is where the title comes from. The raid is on a crime lord who's been untouchable for a decade, and keeps himself holed up in a 30 story apartment building. He's been renting rooms to villains for years, and they're all more than happy to stand in the cops' way. The plan is to go in and move up the building floor by floor, taking out bad guys as they go. The cops enter the building around minute 13, and despite the fact that they're on the 5th floor by minute 14, things don't go so smoothly for them. A rookie gets separated from the rest, and is doggedly determined not just to survive, but to carry out the mission. In order to do that, he'll need to beat the living fuck out of a whole mess of people. It sounds less like a plot and more like a video game. In fact, I had a video game called Kung Fu that was this story. Except the guy was out to rescue his girlfriend, not raid a crime lord. I think that game was actually based on Jackie Chan, so in a way The Raid is a remake of a Jackie Chan video game.

One of the first things I noticed about The Raid is that it utilises that "frantic" hand held style of movies like Rec and Rec 2 and Quarantine (I'm not sure if I should've just counted Rec twice there). Given these three movies (or two movies and a remake) are all about people trying to survive while trapped in an apartment building, comparisons to The Raid are somewhat easy, but also somewhat difficult because those movies are all about infected people and The Raid is all about one guy whoopin' ass and takin' names.

The question most people will ask isn't how The Raid stacks up against Spanish horror and its remakes, but rather how it fares next to the extreme work being put out by Panna Rittikrai. This is not a straight forward answer, because, despite its simple plot, The Raid is a far better structured film than anything I've seen from Rittikrai. Rittikrai may still win on the stunt front, but The Raid holds its own next to Rittikrai's work, and has just enough story thrown in to keep the fighting interesting. The Raid really picks up at about the halfway point for hand-to-hand combat fans, because while the first bit has a few little snippets of fights, it's mostly about gunplay. There's a great deal of martial arts mayhem once the movie shifts to fisticuffs, and some things really stand out from other movies in this genre, like the quick knife jabs our hero performs in one scene or the unusual final move using a door frame. The star of the movie is also a choreographer, and while some of the action moments are simple, they are almost all effective. Despite the handheld style the action is able to be followed, allowing the viewer the opportunity to truly appreciate the coolness of this Silat style.

The film is profane and bloody, with a fair bit of CG enhanced splatter, but care has been taken to make the digital blood blend with the practical elements. The film has some unique and unusual elements for a movie of this type, like when a guy written off as useless comes to the fore and kicks ass for himself, and it also breaks a Hollywood taboo or two. It's not the most logical or realistic movie, but it has some impressive shots and a lot of style and verve. As has been said on this very site "the hype is true," and this is the most impressive martial arts movie since Tony Jaa made his debut.

I wasn't fond of the unnecessary subtitle of "Redemption" added to the US release, but when watching the film with the original audio it was just called The Raid on screen. Changing to the US theatrical release's audio will also change the title to The Raid: Redemption.
The Raid is slightly cropped from its 1.85:1 theatrical ratio, and does not look particularly vibrant on Blu-ray, but then it was never meant to. This is a dark film with a bleak look, but the transfer handles the darkness pretty well, only occasionally succumbing to crush. The print is clean, and whenever a better lit scene turns up there's a lot of detail to be seen. There's a little bit of trailing and a tiny bit of edge enhancement, but complaining about how the movie looks here is just nitpicking.
There're a few audio tracks to choose from. For Spanish and Portuguese viewers there're some lossy dubs, but they sound tiny compared to their lossless brethren. There're also two Indonesian/Bahasa 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio tracks. One track is the film's original audio, the second features a new score by one of the guys from Linkin Park and some other guy he asked to help him out. I really dreaded even sampling an audio track with music from someone in Linkin Park, but I needn't have feared too much as this is a proper score not a collection of Linkin Park music. However, in swapping back and forth between this track and the original I found it to be inferior, and not just because of its association with someone from Linkin Park. Extra cues have been added, which make some scenes seem sillier than they should, and there is one fantastic moment in the original version that is turned into just another scene by the new music. The new score can also drown out the action by trying to be exciting, and changes the tone of some of the scenes. For illiterates, there is an English language DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio dub. I made it about three lines into this dub because, like almost every dub ever, it sucks. The English language track features the new score, not the real one. The three lossless tracks are all high quality, with good, chaotic gun battles; deep rumbles; and nice thumps when people get hit. They're all clear and crisp, but I think the original track sounded a touch better, new score aside. This might just be because of the overpowering element the new score sometimes had on the sound effects – I know I'm making it sound egregious, but the new score is not poorly done, it's just altered the soundscape a little.
Extra Features
The Blu-ray comes with an UltraViolet download code so The Raid can be watched on an itty-bitty viewing device as desired. The disc also has quite a few extras. There's the trailer, as well as trailers for Looper, Starship Troopers: Invasion, Resident Evil: Damnation, The Words and Safety Not Guaranteed. There's also a commentary with writer/director Gareth Evans, and he gives a detailed account of the film and how he came to be a Welshman working in the Indonesian film industry. He says one of the stars was cast using Facebook and that the film has the structure of a survival horror movie, which explains why it reminded me of Rec. Evans cites some great cinematic martial artists as influences, but he also name checks Mars, and anyone that knows who Mars is is all right by me. A behind the scenes video blog can be viewed all together, running about 40 minutes, or in sections covering training, the locations, setup, cameras (this bit helps explain why the shaky cam wasn't too shaky), makeup, some of the fights and post production. A Q&A with Evans and the new composers also runs about 40 minutes. Evans lists more quality influences, and at first talks about the new score like it's the original score, but it does get addressed that it's a rescore. The composers talk about taking the music to the fore in quiet moments, which would be my only real complaint about the new score. Well, that, and the fact that it was entirely unnecessary. Because the new score is so important, there's also a behind the new score featurette, but a lot of info repeats here from the Q&A. The Anatomy of a Scene feature is mostly a mini-commentary track on one sequence, but Evans is once again dropping quality references, talking about early John Carpenter and low budget ingenuity. Because two extras about the new score wouldn't be enough, there's also a conversation with Evans and the Linkin Park guy where they interview each other. In case someone hadn't caught on to the fact the movie has a new score, there's also an ad for the film which emphasises the new score. Moving away from score related material are two bits of fun. One's Claycat's The Raid, a three minute claymation version of the film. I was surprised they got the story down to three minutes, because Evans said he couldn't do it in under 100. Then there's an ad designed to look like an Anime that the movie was based on. I nearly fell for this, but there is one touch that makes it seem highly likely that it's a fake. Also, it's fake, which makes it even more likely that it's a fake. There're a lot of extras, so info does repeat, particularly about the new score. I guess it's better to have the extras than be left wanting, and maybe Linkin Park fans will care more about all that shit than I did. The non-score features were all good, at least.
The Verdict
Movie Score
Disc Score
Overall Score
Once the guns are put down, this movie gets awesome. This is evidently the first instalment in a trilogy, so I'm curious how Evans and co. plan on topping it. Sony are to be commended for this release, because it often seems when there's a new audio track, or sometimes even just a dub, of an Asian film, the original audio gets shoddy treatment. And that's just the audio side, because when the US release is cut, that usually creates even more trouble for those that want a high quality presentation of the original movie. Here, the audio is preserved and the movie's uncut, so this disc is no questions a great purchase.á

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