Opening Friday in area theaters, the film carries the barest of plots. For 10 years, a much-feared mobster in a 15th-floor compound has ruled over a decrepit apartment building housing not only his narcotic enterprise, but also the dregs of society. Finally, the local SWAT team has garnered the guts to take it down, one ascending stairwell at a time corner by corner, room by room, floor by floor.
The mission goes as planned until the fifth floor, when the proverbial crap hits the fan. From there, the team is forced to take routes unintended as they battle the den of thieves and junkies. Weapons employed on both sides include guns, knives, an ax, a machete and even a refrigerator.
And naturally, good ol fists and feet. This high-concept shot of adrenaline pays off the promise of writer/director Gareth Evans so-so 2009 chopsocky effort, Merantau, offering one inventive, powerhouse sequence of action acrobatics after another, with precious little breathing time left in between.
The downside is that it eventually exhausts the viewer; 89 minutes versus 101 would have been perfect, but Evans attempts to infuse a little brotherly love in Act 3 for added weight. The Raid doesnt need it, because scenes of people plummeting from balconies is admission-worthy alone.
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Merantau DVD review