After seeing this film, all I can say is HOLY SHIT! The Raid, also known as The Raid: Redemption in some parts of the world, is the most brutal, action packed, manly, no-holds-barred film we've seen in years. Sure, it's an Indonesian film that requires subtitles for us English-only folk, but don't be put off by that as while there is some dialogue - and the storyline really is surprisingly solid for such a film - the majority of the films runtime is just straight out action - and what action it is. But first, the storyline...
Deep in the heart of Jakarta's slums lies an impenetrable multi-level safe house for the worlds most dangerous killers and gangsters. Until now, the rundown apartment block has been considered untouchable to even the bravest of police. Cloaked under the cover of pre-dawn darkness, an elite SWAT team is tasked with raiding the safe house in order to take down Tama, the notorious drug lord that runs it. But when their cover is blown and news of their assault reaches the drug lord, all the building s exits are blocked. Stranded on the 6th floor with no way out, the unit must fight their way through the city s worst to survive...
Those outside Indonesia will likely have no clue about the cast in this film, but we were impressed with the talent on offer. Ray Sahetapy is superb as the drug lord Tama who always keeps his cool (and looks eerily similar to a friend of mine!), while Iko Uwais is superb as the films main hero Rama. Indeed all the actors in this film put in fine performances, and perhaps more importantly, don't seem to hold back in any of the action sequences.
One thing is certain, The Raid is a film that should launch Welsh director Gareth Evans into the stratosphere as a director (and indeed Writer and Editor as he also performed both of those duties) - if Hollywood will permit him to keep the violence levels up. If not, he may want to do a few more films in Indonesia (and indeed his next film, Berandal, which is a sequel to The Raid, is Indonesian and also stars Iko Uwais - as did his previous film Merantau). I'd love to see Gareth tackle something like The Expendables 3 or the next Rambo film.
It must also be pointed out that this movie was filmed using the rather cheap (compared to many "Hollywood" cameras) Panasonic AG-AF100 digital camera (they're about $US5,000 each) and on a total production budget of around $US1.1 million. In fact, it's amazing just how great this film looks and sounds given the limited budget so kudos to the filmmakers for their efforts here.
The Raid is presented on Blu-Ray with two audio options - an Indonesian DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track (16-bit/48Khz) and Indonesian Linear PCM 2.0 track at 1.5Mbps. While it occasionally lacks some extra flare, overall this is a great audio experience with the filmmakers pushing the sub-woofer at times and also the use of surround sound channels. Music is pretty good, and dialogue clear (albeit in Indonesian of course). The Linear PCM 2.0 track, while only providing stereo sound is also a real crack with some fantastic clarity to it.
Perhaps the biggest disappointment is that this Blu-Ray misses out on a couple of additional tracks compared to the American disc with the primary one being an English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 (dub with new score). It would have been nice to have this if only to open the film up to a wider audience of those who despise subtitled movies, but that's their loss.
The only subtitle option on the film is English, which given the Indonesian language only soundtrack was pretty useful for me, and probably for most of the readers hear too. We can't attest to the translation accuracy, but the dialogue seems realistic. On occasion the subtitles were a little quick to read, but generally acceptable.
Unfortunately the Australian release of The Raid on Blu-Ray lacks many extras as found on the American Blu-Ray release including a directors commentary .What we get is the following...
Inside The Raid (39:09/HD): Fortunately we do get one of the best extras from the American Blu-Ray which is this almost 40 minute look at the creation of this film with plenty of behind the scenes footage and interviews with the cast and crew including extensive military training for the actors, on-set filming, the extensive use of CG, and the limited budget which forced some creative solutions (S.W.A.T. van on a super-budget?). It just goes to show how passionate people with creative minds can come up with something that puts Hollywood movies with one hundred times the budget to shame.
Toronto Film Festival Premiere Q&A (24:52/HD): This is a series of Q&A sessions from the red carpet and inside the auditorium at the Toronto Film Festival. Not as good as the main documentary, but good to hear from many of the participants.
Review By: Dave Warner