As a movie The Raid makes no apologies in being the most brutal action movie you or I have probably ever seen and it combines equal parts brutal fist fighting with heart stopping set pieces and flashes of Pencak Silat – the ancient Indonesian martial art. However, perhaps the most interesting aspect of this movie is the dialogue it launches regarding Indonesian culture, particularly that of organised crime in low socio-economic areas in Jakarta.
Welsh director Gareth Evans expertly brings together the non-stop action movie: The Raid in a no holds barred depiction of the never ending battle between Indonesian police and Jakarta crime families. Since moving to Indonesia in 2009, Evans portrays Indonesia with a poignancy which belies his brief residency. Following Rama (Iko Uwais), the newcomer to a team of special forces police officers, set to raid a high rise apartment complex filled with the grungiest of Jakarta’s organised crime outfits. As Supriyatno (2014) suggests, the setting of a crime movie and the hostile actions of the slum dwellers towards police to be indicative of current attitudes towards Indonesian politicians and bureaucrats(Parker; 2015). Everything appears to be going smoothly as lead officer Wahyu leads his men up through the compendiums until a lookout spots their team and they’re trapped on the seventh floor. As their situation deteriorates it becomes quickly apparent that Wahyu has failed to inform his superiors of their raid and the team realises they are on their own in this mission. What follows is the most visceral roller coaster of action sequences I have ever seen, as Rama fights to escape with the lives of his team. As the odds lengthen all the viewer can do is sit back and watch as Rama bludgeons his way from point A to point B in what shifts from a mission to infiltrate to a race to escape with his and his colleagues’ lives.
Far from being an culture-less action movie The Raid places an unlikely spotlight on the Indonesian martial art: Pencak Silat. Pencak Silat has, similarly to Capoiera in Brazil, evolved from a martial art into a style of dance which has developed to emphasise form over violent. Bouvier (1990) notes Pencak Silat to be a traditionally violent past time with all bouts ending in bloodshed, but in modern times exists as a milder affair which she says serves to provide unique and national character to Indonesians.
The Raid is, at its heart a superficial action movie, but if one were to investigate further they would find interesting details about traditional Indonesian culture. Most notably is the movie’s focus on Pencak Silat, a focal point of multiple movies directed by Gareth Evans.
Bouvier, H. 1990. ‘Ojung’ and ‘Pencak Silat’: Village and National Sports in Madura. Archipel, Vol 40. Viewed 27 April 2015 <http://isplb03-aux3.semantico.net/abstracts/19921800173.html;jsessionid=1AD570553C44CABCFD79610FA12F34E4>
Parker, B. 2015. INDONESIA: Jakarta Slums Struggle with Sanitation. Irin Humanitarian News. Viewed 28 April 2015 <http://www.irinnews.org/report/88833/indonesia-jakarta-s-slums-struggle-with-sanitation>
Supriyatno, B. 2014. Role of Government in Jakarta Organise Slum Area. Scientific Research Journal (SCIRJ),Vol 2. Viewed 28 April 2015 <http://www.academia.edu/7764782/Role_of_Government_in_Jakarta_Organize_Slum_Area>
The Raid: Redemption. 2011. Motion Picture. Celluloid Dreams, Paris.
Pride Sports, 2015. Pencak Silat. Viewed 3 May 2015 <http://www.pride-sports.de/blog/pencak-silat >
IMDB, 2015. The Raid. Viewed 6 May 2015