Writer/Director: Gareth Evans
Running time: 97 mins (approx)
Certification (UK): 18
UK Release date: 18th May 2012
Watched on DVD Saturday 27th July 2013.
PLEASE NOTE: THERE MAY BE UNINTENTIONAL SPOILERS IN THIS REVIEW.
Who would have though that an obscure Indonesian film with a Welsh director would cause such a stir? I remember when this came put it attracted lots of attention from the critics and I have to say that the vast majority of it was very positive. On the strength of this, plus being a bit of a martial arts movie fan on the quiet, this one was added to the list. Imagine my surprise when I found the DVD in a supermarket about 6 months after release for just £5! That’s cheaper than seeing it at the cinema! Not that my local has ever shown it. But I digress, here’s a very brief summary before I give you my thoughts.
A squad of police are about to enter a tower block where a drug lord has his headquarters. One of the cops is a rookie, Rama (Iko Uwais) and he is about to embark on one of the most dangerous missions of his life. The plan is to go floor by floor; securing each one until they can locate the drug lord, Tama (Ray Sahetapy) and arrest him. The man behind the raid is Lieutenant Wahyu (Pierre Gruno), who has his own agenda. At first things go well and they are making easy progress; but then one of the lookouts sounds the alarm and everything changes. A huge gun battle eschews and many of the cops are killed or injured. Tama calls on the buildings’ residents to take care of them, promising those that helped free accommodation for life. This makes it even harder for the cops and Rama finds himself separated from his sergeant, Jaka (Joe Taslim), and trying to find a safe place to hide his injured colleague, Bowo (Tegar Satrya). Having safely hidden Bowo, it transpires that there are only three cops left in fighting order and they decide to take the offensive and finish the job they came there to do. But Tama has sent his two best fighters after them; Andi (Donny Alamsyah) and Mad Dog (Yayan Ruhian).
Brilliantly choreographed with some truly stunning fight scenes, both hand to hand martial arts and with the use of weapons. It is very brutal and there is plenty of gore so it’s definitely not one for the squeamish. All the performances were excellent, I watched it in its native Indonesian with subtitles so I could better judge and I felt nobody missed a beat. I loved the music, it kept the pace of the film very well and added to the excitement of the fight scenes where needed. The time really flew (which is always a good sign) and, although there were a couple of quiet moments, it’s pretty much full on all the way! I did like the plot as well; there were references to police corruption and also a nice little twist with one of the drug lord’s men. Over all, it’s one of the best martial arts films I’ve seen for quite a while! A definite ‘must see’ for any fan of the genre.
SteelMonster’s verdict: HIGHLY RECOMMENDED
My score: 9.4/10.
IMDb Score: 7.6/10 (based on 72,581 votes when this review was written).
MetaScore: 73/100: (Based on 31 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com at the time of going to press).
Rotten Tomatoes ‘Audience’ Score: 86/100 (based on 44,515 user ratings counted at the time of going to press).
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