I should feel like shit for seeing this film: not because it’s badly made, morally reprehensible in its funding or any such external error but simply because I spent yesterday seeing and singing the praises of its exact political polar opposite in The Hunger Games. Where I was stringent in my attempts to explain how that film wasn’t supposed to be about the action and was in facts condemning the crowds that would flock to see such foul displays this one embraces them and the violence in its heart with a sly, sadistic smile spread across its face. So I should feel bad for being that very audience member, for compromising core beliefs that I only just ascertained and deriving entertainment from human suffering; I “should” and yet I don’t, in fact my face displays that very same smile on my dial and has since the films first action scene started.
On the surface the core concept of the film is very similar to that ofThe Hunger Games and there admittedly isn’t much more toThe Raid than the aesthetic. Here too a group of people are locked in an arena, all driven there by Greek God-like political forces, and forced to fight. The difference though lies in the fact that this film is not set in some fantasy land, just in a far away one and these people aren’t pubescents, they’re police and reprobates. The arena in which they find themselves in an Indonesian tenant building bought and owned by the biggest of the cities criminals, who has cleverly filled it’s apartments with arseholes, addicts and other assorted thugs and lowlifes, creating for himself a fort and an army akin to those of the Middle Ages. At first it is the job of a sole squad of SWAT-like troops to storm the building but quickly the mission parameters shift to simply staying alive as the shit hits the fan.