In 2011, Welsh director Gareth Evans brought the traditional Indonesian martial art of pencak silat to world cinema in his intense actioner, The Raid (Serbuan Maut). For The Raid, Evans teamed up with star/fight choreographer Iko Uwais, who had previously starred in Evan’s 2009 film, Merantau. Together, the team produced easily one of the most relentless, no-nonsense action films of all time, and certainly the best martial arts film to hit theaters in the last decade or more. Such an exciting experience is The Raid, in fact, that rarely have I seen such an energized group of film-goers as those who leapt to their feet with me at the conclusion of The Raid in the theater earlier this year.
In its unyielding quest to wow audiences with an interminable series of high-intensity, elbow-filled fight sequences, The Raid resists the temptation to fully explore its story, in either the present narrative or through exposition, that it might instead do what it does best: kick ass. With virtually no plot whatsoever, the film utilizes its threadbare narrative first to ally us with Uwais’ character inasmuch as is necessary to establish a conflict, and secondly as its primary means of propelling the action from one fight sequence into another. In this way, The Raid proves to be an extremely visceral, nearly pure action experience that no fan of the martial arts should miss!
The Unrated Edition of The Raid comes to DVD, Blu-ray, and UltraViolet from Sony Pictures Home Entertainment on August 14th, 2012. It’s an all-around gorgeous, features-packed release with one seriously unfortunate drawback. If you play the film without going through the whole process of setting up the audio and subtitles yourself first, the Blu-ray at least does not automatically play The Raid in its original language with the original music. The disc default settings auto-play the film dubbed into English and accompanied by the alternate score, written for the American release by Linkin Park’s Mike Shinoda with composer Joseph Trapanese. I appreciate that a lot of people put a lot of hard work in to the dub and the alternate score, but seriously, these should not be the default disc settings. The default should be the real film as it was originally intended. Anything else should be included as a bonus feature.
To that end, bonus features here include commentary with Evans; Evans’ behind-the-scenes vlogs; a featurette about the alternate score; a trailer for the alternate score; interviews and conversations with and between Evans, Shinoda, and Trapanese; a very short, very gory reenvisioning of the film by Claycat, starring clay cats; and “The Raid TV Show Ad (circa 1994),” an animated spoof of The Raid by Phil Askin in the style of a mid-90s anime.