The Raid is a brutal and unrelenting action film that serves as a reminder of the true mastery of the genre: Gold Coast Film Festival Review

As easy as it is to call something like The Raid (released in some territories as The Raid: Redemption, this the result of certain legalities) a “thin” movie in terms of plot and character, Gareth Edwards ultimately thrives on such a simplistic nature, turning in a slaughterhouse of an action movie that rarely lets up over the course of its 101 minutes.

And it’s that brutal, unrelenting nature that has seen The Raid (originally released in 2012, and now being retrospectively screened at this year’s Gold Coast Film Festival) utilised as inspiration for cinematic features since – the 2012 science-fiction actioner Dredd and BuyBust, a 2018 Phillippine film both seeing similar premises – as well as help cementing the strength of Indonesian cinema to mainstream audiences.

The film – which Evans also wrote – lets its audience take only literal minutes to settle before unleashing its string of impeccably choreographed brutality.  At the core is Rama (Iko Uwais), who we first meet bidding farewell to his pregnant wife as he prepares for his day as a rookie in the Mobile Brigade Corps, the special operations, paramilitary, and tactical unit of the Indonesian National Police.  Their assigned mission revolves around the takedown of Tama (Ray Sahetapy, appropriately intimidating), a ruthless drug lord.

Due to Tama overseeing a multi-level apartment block as part of his operations – which he runs with Andi (Donny Alamsyah), his consigliere, and Mad Dog (Yayan Ruhian, truly terrifying) – the ease at which the team can get to him is considerably more difficult than initially planned, and because the only way is up – and through Tama’s endless supply of criminal and addicts – The Raid quickly takes it upon itself to make good on its title.

Easily likened to such titles as Ong-Bak and the John Woo catalogue, as well as Assault on Precinct 13, Edwards sets up the stakes and then lets the physicality do the rest of the heavy lifting, with The Raid effortlessly impressing with its hand-to-hand combative nature.  The action sequences are truly jaw-dropping, and the director’s choice to do away with any type of style and square solely on the choreography speaks to his evident love of the traditional Indonesian martial art of pencak silat that’s practiced here.

Whilst The Raid is very much one of those films that if you stripped away its action quota there’s little left to chew on, there’s no denying how impactful it is as a showcase for the practical marvel of fight sequences and their CGI-free adornment.  Never does what’s on offer feel monotonous, and in a time when so many big screen action personalities have contract stipulations on how much they can be hit and “lose” on screen, The Raid is immensely fresh in that it truly feels like a film that will harm you at any given moment.


The Raid is screening as part of this year’s Gold Coast Film Festival, which is running between April 17th – 28th, 2024.

Peter Gray

Seasoned film critic. Gives a great interview. Penchant for horror. Unashamed fan of Michelle Pfeiffer and Jason Momoa.