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Gareth Evans Q&A

11 April 2014 by Rob Daniel

At well over 6ft, Gareth Evans is as big as his movies and a showman-director in the Tarantino mould. So any The Raid 2 Q&A with him won’t be a dry dissection of the work, its subtexts and the process of battling for an artistic vision.

Don’t get us wrong, all these things are in here, but much like with his films Evans wants foremost to entertain and is a natural raconteur with a knack for spinning a great anecdote. And like all great storytellers, he won’t censor his spicy language if the tale demands it.

Following a bring-the-house-down FrightFest screening of The Raid 2 at London’s Cineworld, Haymarket on April 2nd, Evans, plus stars Iko Uwais and Yuyan Ruhian gave the audience a 5-star Q&A recalling making this instant action classic.

And gave us juicy stories about The Raid 3, The Raid remake, the cut American version, deleted scenes and the music of Justin Bieber!  Plus, Iko Uwais and Yayan Ruhian gave a showstopping performance that can be viewed below…

Did you think about a sequel when making The Raid?

Gareth Evans: I’d actually written the script for this before The Raid, about four years ago. It was a standalone movie about a guy who goes into prison, befriends some mob boss and then… GANG WAR.

We tried to raise the budget for that film but couldn’t do it, so The Raid was a back-up plan. While we were writing The Raid I looked back at this script and tried to fix it. The problem I had was this motivational issue of the main character; why would he stay through all that? So putting him in as an undercover cop fixed that for me.

When I realised I was making a film about a cop anyway with The Raid, I thought this could work as The Raid 2. So when devising the script for The Raid we put little hints in at the end about the characters Reza and Bunawa to set it up ready for this one to carry on.

Will there be a Raid 3?

GE: Yes, and it’s going to go back two hours before The Raid 2 finishes and will be different to this one and the first one again. There’s a scene in The Raid 2 where one of the gangs makes a big decision and that decision will have consequences and fallout that will form part of The Raid 3. So we pick up where we left off.

How was shooting the car chase?

GE: We had a little mishap with the car – there’s one shot that’s not in the film now because I got a little too much into frame let’s say!

We had a piston under one car that was supposed to make it flip onto its back and slide across. We had three cameras set up – one in a car running parallel with it, one in front pointing backwards at it, one up above for a bird’s eye – and we had one spare camera, so me and the DoP Matt Flannery thought, Let’s get one spare shot.

I operate it standing up on the pavement in front of this wall and my DoP trying to get me to go behind the wall. I’m like, “Nah, I’ll go in front and just pan across as the car slides across the road”.

We then do a couple of walk-throughs to make sure positions are all right. When the car comes up for real and we’re going for the take the piston goes off and the car goes up, then back down and spins towards us.

One thing I learnt then is that my reflexes are f*cking sh*t because I just froze. But, the reflexes of the stunt driver in the car were beautiful, because as soon as that car came down he spun it away, but at one point it couldn’t have been more than three feet away from us.

I survived, but two of our GoPro cameras didn’t make it.

How was working with Yayan Ruhian and Iko Uwais again after The Raid?  

GE: Ruhian was beautiful, Iko not so much

(Translating for Iko Uwais) He said The Raid 2 was much more complex in the drama than the first movie and he had to learn a lot more in delivering the dramatic sequences than the fight sequences. He also said I’m f*cking awesome!

From the original idea to shooting it, how long did the climactic kitchen fight take to plan?

GE: For that fight we spent about a month and a half planning out the movements. One-on-one fights take much longer to work out than group fights. Group fights are like, “Right, come up with a cool move to take this guy out, then another cool move to take this guy out, twelve minutes later I’ll come back in and I want six dead bodies on the floor and we’ll move on.”

One-on-one is constant back and forth almost like a chess game. So it took a month and a half to design then another month and a half figuring out the shots. We did about 197 shots in the end. The actual production of it was 10 days, 5 consecutive days of them fighting for 13 hours a day while I sit down watching them on the monitor. It’s tough you know?

Then they have a day off, we rest, another five days and it’s done. And then Iko has to fight another 400 people someplace afterwards.

It’s a tough process and I just don’t know where they get the energy and stamina from to do it, but I’m glad they do!

You edit your films as you shoot, how does that work?

GE: I only ever edit the action sequences on location, so I know I’ve got everything I need. We load it all into Final Cut and I can just do it on my laptop.

Back when we were doing The Raid if I wanted to see if a shot was good I’d have to take the SD card out of the camera, load it in, transcode it, blah blah, takes about 15-20 minutes. Only then can I check the shot to see if it’s good or not, so we lost a lot of time on the first film.

On The Raid 2 we had a different process called Q-Take.  The IT guys could wirelessly record the footage from the camera onto their system exactly as the camera is recording it. So they can get me those files on my laptop when I yell cut in literally about 10 seconds.

Then I can check it and if it’s good we move on. If Iko f*cks up then we have to go again.

The beauty of this is that I can see if it works on location, because not everything may come together the way it did in the office when we were doing the pre-vis.

I never touch the drama until we’re done shooting. And it’s then, after 6 or 7 months shooting with 150 people around me asking me questions that I lock myself in a small room to edit. And it’s just me and it’s silent and that’s when I go a little bit f*cking Jack Torrance.

Can you do martial arts?

GE: F*ck no, look at me! I can barely tie my shoes!

Who were the foreigners in the nightclub sequence?

They were my DoP Matt and my lighting guy. Not working, but skiving as they usually are. My DoP has two cameos in The Raid 2; he did have three but I cut one out. The second one was in the nightclub, but the first is during the prison riot playing the guard who whacks Iko across the head. And he really wanted to do that cameo so badly

My cameo you probably won’t spot. I’m in there for 14-frames maybe during the car chase.

We do have one other cool cameo of the Clay Cat. Lee Hardcastle did this cool Clay Cat animation from the first film, so we put this Banksy style graffiti of the Clay Cat on a wall in this film as a little Easter Egg for you.

Tell us about Hammer Girl actress Julie Estelle.

GE: Julie was awesome. She had no martial arts background so I made her do a five day audition. She’s considered an Indonesia sweetheart, usually doing cutesy romantic comedies. She did a few horror films way back including The Mo Brothers' Macabre, but she was always the heroine. I wanted to make her this evil, silent assassin.

Four days were practice then one day of presentation and Julie nailed it. She showed so much commitment and after that trained for another five, six months before shooting the subway scene. But, she’s bad ass, absolutely great.

What as the bodycount and how higher is it than the first film?

GE: I actually lost count! Funnily enough the other day I watched this YouTube clip where someone had gone through the first Raid and done a body count, and also a punch count, kick count, throw count and a melee count! Which is just hypnotic to watch. Maybe they can do that for the second film.

Were your crew surprised by the scene where it snows in Indonesia?

GE: Er, I’m sorry? (laughs) Yeah, it doesn’t snow that much in Indonesia! I have two answers for this one, first I’ll give you my bullsh*t pretentious answer; it’s a good one. I had the idea that every time (wild bad guy) Bejo appears onscreen, the temperature of the film drops.

And when the moment happens that is the catalyst for the gang war I said, “Right the temperature is going to drop so f*cking low that we’re going to have snow.”

That’s my bullsh*t reason. The real reason is that blood looks f*cking beautiful on snow.

Why did you want to write a movie in Indonesia?

GE: First and foremost (martial art) silat is one of the beautiful things about Indonesia and its culture. I think I show a pretty ugly side of it! But, Indonesia has given me my career, without a doubt.

If I hadn’t gone out to do that documentary I wouldn’t be able to share this film with you at all. So I think if I can do something for the culture and the language and continue to make films there then I think why not?

What’s next?

GE: I have two projects in development right now, one to be shot in the US, the other here in the UK.

The US is a pure action film that I’m writing myself at the moment. But, I’m bringing my boys Iko Uwais and Yayan Ruhian in as the choreography team because I need them! Mainly so if I do f*ck up then I can share the blame.

The one in the UK is based on the true story of a former MMA fighter who masterminded a huge cash robbery here. So it’s kind of like Warrior meets Ocean’s 11 I guess.

What can you tell us about The Raid remake?

GE: Okay, I’m not saying this because I’m semi-involved, because my involvement is minimal. But for me it’s like this, and this but is such a bad example because I end up sh*tting on Spike Lee and I don’t mean to because I love him as a filmmaker, but I haven’t seen Oldboy yet. But, Oldboy is such a plot driven film, you can’t deviate from it.

With The Raid as long as you stick to the first ten minutes you can then go off and do anything you want. You have the freedom to explore different rooms, you can restructure the building to make it look and feel different and add a variety of areas.

There were things I really wanted to do in the first one but couldn’t afford to do. When we did the fridge explosion, originally I wanted the gas canister to spin around the corridor and knock one of the guys over the atrium so he falls all the way down to the bottom.

But, my producer said, “Nooo, can’t afford that” so I thought, F*ck it, we’ll have a fridge fly instead.

As long as (director) Patrick Hughes has the same creative freedom I had there’s no reason it shouldn’t be good. At the very least though we’ll have the original and maybe some kid who listens to Justin Bieber will see the trailer for The Raid remake and realise there’s an original. And then we’ll be able to stop him listening to that sh*t!

What was cut from the R-rated American version?

GE: Only about 4 or 5 seconds. They had problems with things like the Hammer Girl stuff on the train. It’s technically all there, but it’s removing a few frames here and there. I can stab someone with a claw that’s fine, but they don’t like it when it gets stuck in and dragged. We had to remove a few gunshots from the beginning when the guy is shot in the chair, but the rest of the stuff is kind of okay.

And what about the four minute action sequence you took out? Will that be on the Blu-ray?

GE: Yes, but as a deleted scene. The cut of the film right now is what I’m happy with and anything we removed was taken out for the right reasons.

We had one scene in the teaser trailer that we cut, where this guy shoots someone on an escalator, because that trailer was done back in October time and we were still cutting the film in December, January. But, we’re going to put it out at some point.

We had another girl killer we introduced briefly, but it didn’t feel right because it was yet another new character who only had that one scene.

A painful scene to cut was when Rama beats up the son of a politician because it was a four or five minute steadicam shot that went through this club, following the drama through different rooms then back downstairs and into the beating. It was all in one shot, but we had to cut it.

It’ll be on the DVD… coming soon to a store near you soon. Actually no, because there are none left anymore! Where the f*ck did HMV go?!

Rob Daniel is Editorial Manager for On Demand. Check out more of Rob's work at Electric Shadows