Gareth Evans on Remaking The Raid — and The Raid 2’s 4-On-1 Car Fight
This week at SXSW Movieline caught up with director Gareth Evans, whose Indonesian martial arts actioner The Raid: Redemption is set to knock your socks off later this month courtesy of Sony Classics. (Haven’t heard of the martial arts form silat? You will, come March 23.) With his film steadily collecting kudos left and right, Evans is already thinking ahead to his Raid sequel (working title: Berandal), and an insane, dangerous-sounding four-on-one car fight he plans on working into the mix.
First up, though, is the U.S. remake currently in the works at Screen Gems. The original film worked with the unique (and relatively new to most audiences) martial arts form silat, employed dynamically in a fairly basic setup: A SWAT team trapped inside a tenement building locked down by a vicious gangster must fight their way out. The American remake will build on the elements of The Raid, with Evans on hand as executive producer and Raid stars/fight choreographers Iko Uwais (who plays hero Rama) and Yayan Ruhian (who steals scenes as the sadistic Mad Dog) working on the remake’s fight choreography.
“There will be elements of silat in there, which is kind of cool because there’s a respect for the original,” Evans said. “And I’m curious because the thing is yes, silat is an Indonesian martial art, but it’s practiced all over the world. There are schools of silat in London, there are schools of silat in America, there are schools of silat in France, and they have international championships as well. So there are a lot of people that know silat around the world, so it’s not a far-fetched idea that someone in America could know silat, the same way that it’s not far-fetched for a guy in America to know kung fu or muy thai.”
While screenwriter Brad Inglesby has been recruited to script the remake, a director has yet to be found. Whoever it is, Evans isn’t worried about passing the reins to another filmmaker’s vision.
“For me it’s like this: the storyline and the central concept is streamlined," he explained. "It’s a very straightforward action film. So there’s room for improvement, and I think that director, whoever it is, has to be given the kind of creative freedom to push it in whatever direction he wants to push it and not have somebody standing over his shoulder saying, 'You can’t do this, or you can’t do that.' I think it should be that person’s decision.”
After his Raid promotional tour is done, Evans will turn to pre-production on the sequel, with plans to begin filming next January. But how do you follow a film that’s already packed with non-stop, relentless, wall-to-wall, inventive action?
“By going in a slightly different direction,” he teased. “If I try to replicate and copy it’ll fall on its ass, so I want to do something kind of different. We’re going to take the story out now and go onto the streets. So everything that was scary about that building and about that boss is small fry compared to the gangs we meet in the sequel — now we meet the people who let him have that building. And we expand the world out, we explore certain characters that were kind of hinted at in this but not expanded upon, and we ramp up some of the set pieces as well.”
Evans’s Raid films will always retain their focus on silat, only showcased within different environments. Like, for example, the limited confines of a moving automobile.
“We’ll have one fight scene," Evans said, "a four-on-one fight inside of a car, and Iko’s going to be kicking people out through the windows, and it’s going to be nuts. What we’re doing now is we have to figure out how to shoot that without killing anyone.
"Once we get that sorted," he continued with a laugh, "then we’ll start shooting that."
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