Every fight poses a threat to The Raid’s heroes. That’s the difference between say, Tom Cruise mauling his Mission Impossible opponents with a suggested wink – everyone knows he won’t be killed – and The Raid, where the villains actively injure, maim, and shoot the men infiltrating their 15-story drug den.
This is a vicious film, graphic and brutal on a scale classic martial arts films tried to reach. The Raid becomes a testament to how far this genre has come, from creaky, low-rent productions with startling choreography to full blown action spectacles, even with reduced scale. Aside from its introduction and final scene, The Raid never leaves the apartment complex. All involved are trapped inside, and capable killers.
There’s no effort made to slow The Raid
There’s no effort made to slow The Raid
It’s a memorable locale: dark, unfriendly, and impossibly decrepit. That production design affords The Raid its tenor, which is nothing short of brutal. Broken bones, punctured chests, shattered spines, and rapid stabbings create a tone that without words, conveys the will of each fighter, whether they’re on the infiltrating SWAT team or part of the drug lord’s underlings.
There’s no effort made to slow The Raid. Even at its most dramatic, including mistrust within the SWAT’s ranks, the next brawl is minutes away without rest. Implausible as the kick-happy flurries become, The Raid refuses to relent – in this world, it’s all inherently real, and it’s visually sold as such.
The Raid expends emotional energy where it can or needs to. Star Iko Uwais carries a heavy conversation with his brother, a means for the film to explore the social circumstances that led to this graphic horror. The Raid doesn’t need any more, the plotting as simple as a retro videogame brought to life, and not all that dissimilar in structure, with each new floor a level, with boss fights every so often.
What The Raid does with its minimal plotting is then a miracle because never once does it lose engagement, nor does it rely solely on the fighting. It’s meticulously designed as to not lose momentum, of which The Raid has from its opening moments. It’s relentless, much like the men featured themselves on either side. The Raid forms to its characters, follows them, and refuses to lose its grip.
Remastered for this 4K debut, The Raid is held back only by its source material. A bump in resolution doesn’t hide the messy digital material underneath, sometimes resulting in sloppy close-ups. Other times, they appear fantastic, with an organic texture. It’s inconsistent.
With a heavy grain structure applied in post, the encode (or again, the source) struggles to keep up. Macroblocking and other artifacts appear, even banding on the cop’s helmets. In smoke or haze, it’s brutally digital. Black levels drift toward hollow grays. Longer shots become messy, introducing things like ringing or other remnants of the 2011 camera choice.
The real draw of this presentation though is the new color grade, which actually gives The Raid… color. The previous Blu-ray held tightly to a washed out teal/blue, and while that’s still prominent in the aesthetic, flesh tones heat up and on occasion, a primary color might appear in full. During Rama’s second major hallway brawl, the fight enters a room full of colorful lights. It’s spectacular.
While not fancy or even appealing by the format’s usual standards, it’s worth noting the improvements from the Blu-ray. Between the two formats, it’s not even a close competition. The Raid simply maintains its messy, grit-laden appearance, just with positive changes all around.
Remastered in Atmos (an English dub is in 5.1), the Indonesian track is a stellar one. While somewhat exaggerated, the surround and stereo effects offer impeccable accuracy. Subtle ambiance like music playing in a specific channel, dialog slipping outside the center, or perfect motion when the squad moves as a group all impress.
Bass rocks the room, jolts coming from gunfire, punches, or blasts. It’s an intense, high volume track that can test some equipment, especially the subwoofer(s). When the action starts, The Raid is pure aural spectacle, and the accuracy is among the best.
On the Blu-ray, director Gareth Evans provides a commentary. He returns for multiple conversations, one with Mike Shinoda, the other with Evan, Shinoda, and Joe Trapenese. There’s also a scene breakdown with Evans. V-logs, a featurette on the score, The Raid in clay, and trailers round this one out.
The Raid: Redemption
Unflinching and brutal, The Raid derives tension from the reality of its violence, and of that, it has a lot of.
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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 32 full resolution uncompressed 4K screen shots grabbed directly from the UHD: