The Raid (2011)

Director: Gareth Evans

If it’s rare for me to actually want a sequel to a film after I’ve seen it, this must be the first time I’ve wanted to see the sequel while I’m only halfway through the first one… I remember when Dredd came out, quite a number of comparisons were drawn to this film, and that’s understandable, especially, when you consider The Raid preceded it onto screens by a year or so. However, Dredd actually completed shooting while this was in pre-production—fun and games in post seem to have held it back from release—so unless Evans got some sort of sneak peek at the other film’s script or something, I think we have to assume a really bizarre case of parallelism. Cos the plot really is practically identical, the criminal-controlled tower block being raided by the forces of law and order, raid going terribly wrong, complications ensuing, etc. There are, of course, some crucial differences, most notably that the forces of law and order turn out to be, shall we say, rather less righteous than the Judges, meaning the whole thing ends on a kind of open, ambiguous note. Plus the film doesn’t have to establish a futuristic setting, so it can get down to business even faster, and that means the violence is of a different quality too cos the weapons are different. And if Dredd was brutal in terms of that violence, The Raid is positively, heart-stoppingly batshit; I can’t remember how many times I said “JESUS FUCK!” during the course of the film, but it was a considerable number, I’m sure. The film is genuinely phenomenal for something that cost only about a million dollars US, which amount doesn’t go too far these days in Hollywood, especially considering the amount of sheer carnage on the screen (there are a few lulls to actually let the plot—such as it is—advance, but otherwise it’s mayhem all the way); our Indonesian  (& Welsh) friends could evidently teach our American friends something there. Quite amazing, and actually worthy of the hype that preceded it in the West. I now clearly need to see Evans’ previous film Merantau plus the sequel to this; apparently the latter is even more OTT, which, given that it’s rated R here but this one is only MA, is something I look forward to…

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