This is one movie I simply couldn’t wait to see because of the massive hype surrounding it. I gotta say, the hype is definitely not overdone!
This movie is all about the action, all about realism, adrenaline rush fight scenes all set in a real nitty gritty environment of crime and drugs. The story is pretty straight forward – am Indonesian swat team is about to raid an run down apartment building which houses mostly criminals, and is run by a crimelord. The Swat group go in with 20 men but have their cover blown by a small boy.
Once the buildings inhabitants learn of the intrusion, the crimelord Tama Riyadi sends a message throughout the building – kill these policemen and receive free rent for life.
So with the team currently heading up the building, just about every single person in the building tries to kill these police men, and they succeed in killing nearly all of them. From there, Rama (Iko Uwais) continues on to find his brother, and get him out. But things get much more complicated as there is no hiding, only fighting his way through – each fight getting more savage and deadly.
A few twists and turns
As it turns out there’s 2 main henchmen under Tama’s command. One is Mad dog, who is a crazy & ferocious fighter who prefers to kill his opponents with his bare hands, and refers to killing with a gun to ‘eating fast food’. The other, Andi, is a little more composed and collected. As it turns out, Andi is Rama’s brother.
A classic story of two brothers who went in different directions but ultimately work together to take out Tama.
Another twist is the head police officer Wahyu. Who holds back some details from his men about who sent them on the raid. It is discovered through questioning Qahyu that no one officially knows of the raid and that they are entirely on their own. Calling for backup is entirely useless, making the situation within the building very much a trap for the swat team inside.
The feel of the film
As mentioned above, the main characters are in this situation that feels very much trapped whilst surrounded by some extremely violent enemies. Since the film is set almost entirely in the tower, there’s a sense that the outside world is a lot further away than ‘just outside’. There’s snipers at the windows and a new machete wielding maniac around every corner. There’s no safe moments for the main characters in this movie.
They do quickly set up Rama’s character in this movie as somewhat of a family man. He has a new born on the way, and he’s trying to rescue his brother and even tells him he’s going to be an uncle. With flashes of his wife during the movie, you get the feeling that he wonders if he’ll even actually make it out of this situation alive and see his family again. They really did a fantastic job with portraying a certain feel of the situation and the characters feelings toward the whole raid.
The Nitty Gritty Action.
This movie is as cold edged and raw as they come. The building is decrepit, the inhabitants looking very poor but also extremely violent. Each fight scene is without backflips and fancy movements but there’s plenty of injuries, death and just straight out painful looking fights.
Keeping this high level of realism you’ll see children being shot and killed mercilessly, people being brutally murdered, and in particular ‘Mad Dog’ being particularly murderous and psychologically disturbed. Mad Dog sets up his opponents and fights them hand to hand, and brutally kills them at the end of the fight by breaking their neck or some other fatal move. He even fights Rama and Andi in adrenaline paced 2 on 1 fight scene which had my eyes glued to the screen.
The movements are real, punches, kicks, stabbings and point blank shootings are the call of the day as survival at just about any cost is what the main characters are concerned with.
Iko’s going to be big name in martial arts movies. The level of stunt work/fighting he does, combined with the realism, savage speed and ferocity really makes a mark on the industry.
When people were sick of wire work, Tony Jaa popped out of nowhere with Ong Bak stating ‘No Wire, No CGI’, and I see this as something similar (not quite on the same scale however) – no backflips and crazy unrealistic moves (which I love by the way! I won’t knock the acrobatic side of Martial Arts movies), but this movie focuses on even more realism.
Iko’s a small guy, with all the right features – he’s ripped, he can act well and can definitely play a good fighter that’s believable and exciting. His future should be interesting.
Would I Recommend it?
Every martial arts movie fan should watch this – assuming they can handle the raw, hard edged side to the violence. This movie is ruthless, so if you’re happy to watch a movie that pulls no punches, you NEED to see this movie.