Written and directed by Gareth Huw Evans. It takes place in Jakarta, Java Indonesia. It is about a police raid on a squalid multi-storey building. The place is run by Tama (a crimelord), the gangsters who live there are his creatures. A SWAT team turn up, run by an aging lieutenant. The police are betrayed, undone by the vicious collusion between the police hierarchy and the gangland. There are two brothers, one a cop and the other seems to be a gangster. The good cop gets the better of a lot of people but meets his match at the end.
Once again, I’m wondering what the critics see in this macho silliness. The martial arts (pencak silat) on display is practised in Indonesia and I just don’t get the attraction. The fight scenes may be well ‘choreographed’, but it looks to me like hundreds of other martial films, a few of which I endured when I lived in China and Indonesia. It’s Jean-Claud van Damme stuff. I can only speak as I find on this subject, to me it looks like anti-contest, the mutual cancelling out of expertise which only demonstrates its own prowess. When this goes on for an hour it looks like demented puppets trying to win a wrap around contest, and it sounds like they’re shackled to collapsible trolleys of kitchen ware . Jonathan Pryce nicely mocked it in the 1997 Bond film Tomorrow Never Dies when he flapped his arms around and snorted “pathetic”! The good cop leaves lots of broken bodies in his path and we see his ever so sensitive side when he meets up with his brother and then they speak as if violence never entered their heads as a career choice. The whole film is set in the bleak cement boxes of high rise squalor. This setting acts as a primitive mural of blank concrete, and the gangsters scuttle round like cockroaches. We get little in the way of a plot except the predictable corrupt collusion between gangster and cop. The two brothers effect a sort of reconciliation but these encounters are absurdly sidelined by the relentless killing and maiming that goes on around them. I kept waiting for an hilarious punchline. I suspect there might be double standards about this, if it were set in Britain it would look like an absurd film about the SAS but The Raid is set in an ‘exotic’ Jakarta, so its poverty chic makes it look more meaningful.