The Raid

Welsh director Gareth Evans annihilates the competition with his modern martial arts classic

A group of heavily-armed cops find themselves trapped inside a 15-storey apartment block and facing overwhelming odds when a raid on a local crime lord goes horribly wrong. And that's all the plot there is to Gareth Evans' turbo-charged movie, The Raid. That pretext leads into a feature-length orgy of violence, showcasing some of the best-choreographed, most imaginative action scenes committed to film in years. Unmissable.

Picture: It may outpace its Hollywood rivals with its fight scenes, but when it comes to picture quality there's no mistaking The Raid for anything other than the low-budget film it is. The Blu-ray's AVC-encoded 1.78:1 encode highlights many of the pitfalls common to shooting digitally, including waxy skintones, wavering contrast levels and flat shadows.

But all of these flaws are inherent in the source material and were seen by anybody who caught the film at the cinema. Technically, the Blu-ray is sound, delivering exactly what the Gareth Evans captured – even if, in purely visual terms, it isn't all that exciting.
Picture rating: 3/5

Audio: What The Raid lacks in visual panache, it makes up for with its acoustic elan. The Indonesian DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack doesn't really announce its presence until the action gets underway, sounding a little underwhelming when people aren't killing each other. But as soon as the action starts, the mix unleashes all kinds of hell on your speakers.

Punches and kicks (of which there are plenty) land on the screen accompanied by terrific sonic impact, with bags of tight, refined bass underpinning each blow. The mix also makes impressive use of positional effects around the soundfield, making The Raid seem larger than its low-fi visuals would otherwise allow.

Dialogue is also well-handled, never getting buried in the mix (although anybody who checks out the disc's awful DTS-HD MA 5.1 English dub will quickly wish that it had been).
Audio: 4/5

Extras: Not only does this Blu-ray feature two edits of the movie itself (the 101-min UK Theatrical Cut and 10-second longer Original Uncut version), but the hi-def platter also serves up a pretty comprehensive set of extras.

The best by some distance is the fascinating commentary by writer/director Gareth Evans and actor Joe Taslim, which charts the making of the movie in great detail and reveals how a guy from Wales ended up directing an Indonesian action hit.

Also on offer are a 41-min Q&A with Evans and composers Mike Shinoda and Joe Trapanese; a short featurette about the creation of the film's score; four additional promo interviews with Evans and Shinoda; a soundtrack spot; 38 mins of behind-the-scenes video blogs; a retro-styled animated advert; Claycat's The Raid (the film remade with stop-motion clay cats); and a selection of trailers.

It's just a shame that the disc's animated menu design is rather slow and looks like it's been lifted from a rather uninspiring PS2-era first-person shooter videogame.
Extras rating: 3.5/5

We say: Not the best-looking disc you'll ever see, but for unceasing martial arts action it doesn't get better than The Raid

Momentum Pictures, Region B BD, £20 Approx, On sale now