If you remember the first time your watched Robocop back in the eighties then
a) you are now considered old and
b) you witnessed a subtle change in the dramatic torque directors applied to their films.
The Raid is to martial arts what Robocop was to eighties actions films. The genre has been flapping around in the land of ham and cheese for too long. The standards of directing, acting, and editing, all suffering at the expense of choreography.
Admittedly, the Ong Bak series stepped up the game but fell apart in the sequels and in depth of story. Predictability should not be ignored. The cry of "but watch it for the martial arts" is nonsense. That's not filmmaking.
Yes we've had Stephen Chow comedies and Zhang Ziyi flying about in a strop in Yuen Wo Ping's various creations but none of these have the OMG factor. That is, audiences in awe of technique, acting, realism and dramatic tension in the story.
This means the clean cut 'magical martial arts' have to go. The lack of broken bones and instant death has to be addressed. Martial arts are not sports. Are used to kill people. Violently.
And to borrow a leaf from Scorsese, the story must reflect reality. No hero is perfect and no villains are strategic masters (or they would get £5m+ as CEOs and go legit).
The Raid addresses all of the above and mixes perfectly crafted CG effects that blend invisibly to create a high pressure adventure in one building, reminiscent of Hard Boiled.
It's not a 10 but I have to say it comes close. Fair attention is given to story and driving factors. Enough intrigue is sprinkled over the top without overpowering. The production team can stand proud. Not only is the The Raid a great martial arts and action film, it's put together better than almost all of its peers.
9 / 10