What The Raid is, is violent, very violent. Not only is it more violent than almost anything else out there but it is more skilfully violent, more variedly violent and more inventively and entertainingly violent than any other film out there.

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It starts off machine-gun violent, shifts into sharp-implement violent before graduating into fisticuff-martial art violent. It delivers the kind of frenzied brutality that slaps involuntary hoots of contentment from you. If this doesn’t sate your violence needs, you probably ought to be locked away.

Though we never did get a film version of J.G. Ballard’s High Rise, vague notions of it have seeped into films such as Attack the Block, [Rec] and French zombie flick The Horde.

The Raid may be the film they were all working towards with its plot about a squad of armed cops launching an assault on a 30-storey tower block. It is the base of the city’s main crime lord and its tenants are almost entirely criminals and henchmen. The cops’ plan quickly unravels and becomes a struggle for survival.

No surprises there; the film’s only mysteries are why someone called Gareth Evans is directing an Indonesian action flick and how he has come from nowhere to be the world’s best action director? It’s not that Evans does anything you haven’t seen before. Most acclaimed action directors have one or two little tricks that they flog to death.

Evans (who also edited and wrote) has taken everything on board and lets it emerge into a seamless style. He moves the camera beautifully in time with the action and when he chooses to cut quickly it is never so fast that you feel you’ve been cheated.

It is a lovely synthesis of Western and Eastern action styles.

While Hollywood actioners often seem like a bunch of old men hobbling around in search of their stunt doubles, the impressively balletic action in Asian films can seem so self-contained and choreographed to be like circus acts.

Martial arts are such a ritualised and long-winded way to go about administering a slap that they often suck the credibility out of already creaky revenge plots. Here, though, the martial arts scenes flow almost seamlessly out of events.

THE RAID (18)

Director: Gareth Evans

Starring: Iko Uwais, Joe Taslim, Ananda George, Ray Sahetapy and Doni Alamsayh

Length: 101 mins

****

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