A scene from The RaidTo open a program like Midnight Madness, the movie has to be attention-grabbing and preferably like nothing you’ve ever seen. There is no doubt The Raid is that film. To say it’s an action flick doesn’t do the breakneck fight sequences justice; it’s so much more than that.

Sergeant Jaka (Joe Taslim) and his SWAT team have been ordered to infiltrate a notorious drug dealer’s stronghold; both police and rival gangs have failed in the past, but this time is supposed to be different. Rama (Iko Uwais), a rookie on the force, doesn’t like it, but he has his own motives for ensuring a spot on the squad. On the other side of the strike, Tama (Ray Sahetapy) is a ruthless killer with two bodyguards – Andi (Doni Alamsyah), the brains, and Mad Dog (Yayan Ruhian), the braun – and a building packed with loyal defenders. Everyone’s willing to fight to the death, and they’ll probably have to.

The bone-crunching, heart-stopping, gasp-inducing battles are nearly indescribable. If you were impressed by Tony Jaa’s moves in Ong Bak, this martial arts extravaganza will blow your mind. Showcasing the stunning intricacies of the Indonesian martial arts style Silat, writer/director Garreth Evans and the incredibly skilled cast take the action genre to a whole other level. In fact, Toronto producer Todd Brown believes The Raid may only be the second film to feature this fighting technique (the other being Evans’ previous film, Merantau). The extensive bouts took approximately three months to design and equally as long to rehearse. But every inch of their hard work is visible; rather than blur the actors’ actions with rapid editing and too tight close-ups, Evans allows audiences to see every punch and kick.

The program describes the film as a cross between Die Hard and Assault on Precinct 13, which is a fairly accurate summation of the film’s plot. Outside of the police’s arrival, the movie’s action is entirely confined to the building they invade. As they begin moving through the building, securing each corridor, the expectation that something is about to go wrong builds – until finally the alarm is sounded. From that moment on, it’s a constant battle for survival against tenants firing high-powered weapons and wielding machetes. In the meantime, against this violent backdrop, a simple narrative of corruption and relations unfolds.

The fight choreography was designed by two of the film’s stars: Uwais and Ruhian. And it can only be described as awesome. Rama and Jaka take on multiple opponents simultaneously, break through floors for relief and improvise with anything at hand. Each second is thrilling, whether it involves brutal hand-to-hand combat or merciless gunfights.

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