Let me be very clear: director Gareth Evans’ The Raid, an Indonesian martial arts epic that tracks a SWAT team sweeping through a highrise infested with drug dealers, is a phenomenal action movie that demands to be seen. Thankfully, Sony Pictures Classics will be releasing it on March 23, so everyone needs to circle their calendars right now. Trust me, once you see this, you’ll understand why every critic at TIFF and last week’s Sundance Film Festival was raving. It also explains why Screen Gems acquired the remake rights. It’s really that good.
While at Sundance I was able to sit down with Evans for an extended interview. We talked about getting The Raid into both TIFF and Sundance, getting the project financed, how they pulled off the action scenes, film vs. digital, and the American remake. Evans is currently doing pre-production on the sequel, so he revealed the working title (Berandal, which means Thug), the budget, how he wants to shoot in anamorphic widescreen, the expectations, and how he wants to incorporate a car chase. He says, “I want to bring car chase elements to it as well. So we have like a cool fight scene where you go inside a car, fighting against four people as it’s speeding along a one-way.” Hit the jump for more.
As usual, I’ve time indexed the interview so you can watch the parts that interest you. Also, I’ve pulled some of the quotes. While many of you haven’t seen The Raid yet, trust me, you’re going to love this movie. Make sure you see it.
- :29 Talks about having his film at both Sundance and the Toronto Film Festival.
- 1:12 The nearly universal praise for the film. Says they finished the film one week before Toronto and were pretty skeptical about the reception going in.
- 2:11 Getting the project financed. Says The Raid was actually a backup project to another film that had a much higher budget but didn’t get the go-ahead.
- 3:43 How much did the project change from the initial idea to the finished film? Says they did a lot of pre-vis and planning for the martial arts and action scenes, so those were plotted out well beforehand. Evans takes a small camera and films most of the movie beforehand in order to plot everything out, and says he’s basically refilming those scenes once he gets on set.
- 5:16 Talks about The Raid trilogy. “I told you earlier about a film that we tried to get up off the ground and couldn’t get done. While I was developing The Raid, I was looking at ways to kind of link those two scripts together because we had done all this choreography on that first film, we were like ready to go we just needed the finance to pull the trigger on it. Because I didn’t want to just abandon that project, I started to look at ways we could link the two together. So the one problem I had with that original script was that the lead role didn’t have an interesting enough backstory. As I was thinking about it, I thought ‘Well if I make this a continuation of the story from The Raid, it’ll work much better, and it’ll kind of add more ideas and add more different elements to it,’ so it’s actually gonna be the sequel to The Raid. We’re in a position now where we can finance that movie, which is great (laughs). So yeah, it’s a big relief now. For three years that’s been the itch I couldn’t scratch, so I’m kind of dying to kind of get stuck in and do that film next. That’ll be part two. Part three [will be] further down the line. A lot further down the line.”
- 6:28 Talks about what he had to change from the previous story to make it fit as a Raid sequel. Says the standalone story from the previous one could work as an undercover cop or it could work as an ordinary guy who finds himself in extraordinary circumstances, so they only had to change about 20% of it. Talks about how every time he adds a new scene, he has to go back and check the rest of the script to make sure he’s not contradicting anything.
- 7:27 The title for the sequel. Doesn’t want it to be The Raid 2 because it doesn’t take place in a building, they’re taking the story out. The working title has been Berandal, which is Indonesian for thug, but he says they’re most likely going to change it.
- 8:17 The budget for the sequel. Says they’ve increased the budget a little from the initial budget for the original story, but it’s not a huge amount. The Raid was about $1 million and the budget for the sequel will be about $3 million. Talks about what the bigger budget will mean for the sequel: “For my first movie I kind of wanted to play around with how to do martial arts scenes, for the second movie I wanted to include gunplay and martial arts (The Raid), and the third one, for The Raid sequel, I want to bring car chase elements to it as well. So we have like a cool fight scene where you go inside a car, fighting against four people as it’s speeding along a one-way.”
- 9:22 Film vs. digital. Says he’s always shot digital just because it’s more cost effective for their martial arts films. They do so many takes that it would be really expensive on film. Says they never get the shot in less than 10 or 12 takes.
- 10:11 What camera did they shoot on and what equipment did they sue on The Raid? Says they used the Panasonic AF-100.
- 10:41 Says they’re considering their options for the next film, camera-wise. They’re going more classical-style, he wants to shoot in anamorphic.
- 11:23 His involvement in the American remake of The Raid. Says he’s an executive producer and he’ll have a say in some things but not everything. He wants to keep his distance and let the filmmaker do it with a fresh pair of eyes. Screen Gems wants to get the same choreographers from The Raid involved with the remake.
- 12:30 Did they buy the remake rights to sequels and prequels or just The Raid? Says he’s not entirely sure.
- 13:09 Expectations. Does he feel pressure to up himself on the sequel? Says he felt pressure while shooting the film because Sony bought it at Cannes when he still had a month left of filming.
- 14:37 How wide of a release will the film get in the US? The plan is to go limited the first week and expand according to how well it does.