A couple years ago action fans around the world were given a fantastic gift with “The Raid.” The 101 minute movie contained enough violence, edge-of-your-seat suspense to audience members, giving them a thoroughly satisfying movie-going experience. When the announcement was made that director Gareth Evans and company would be coming back to make “The Raid 2,” fans like myself drooled over the idea of this sequel.
“The Raid 2” is a lot more complex than it’s predecessor, not only through the multiple story lines connecting with our hero Rama’s (Iko Uwais) quest for vengeance. Director Gareth Evans wasn’t worried about the story, but the crazy wonderful action sequences that really tie this second film together into a neat, bloody little bow. ShockYa.com got the chance to speak with Gareth Evans about shooting some of the insanely complex actions sequences and the impending third film that fans should expect in the next few years.
How do the visuals develop? Is it through storyboard? Is it through choreography? Or Word from the DP? Or is it a combination of everything?
Gareth Evans: I’ve never done a movie board. I don’t really do storyboards much. I do shots with my DoP, and when we visit sets, we just take a bunch of stills of “this is that shot,” or “this is this shot.” But the feel of it, the one instance I had when we looking for locations, is like wherever we find something in terms of structure we work with it, but I said to my producer Todd, ” I just have to have a red carpet.” That really was my one thing. I really wanted a warm texture for that. I wanted to get the reds and the warmth which would get darker and darker as we went deeper and deeper into the film. I wanted to experiment more with the lighting on this one cause in the first one it was corridors, rooms, and an atrium, and that was it. So we couldn’t really do much to change it one. Yeah there was a broken light every now and then, but it really wasn’t much we can do with the colorscape in the first one. It was very monochrome sorta like dark and dingy. So in this one, we knew we were shooting one on a wider format using the Red Cam, and we knew the resolution would be better and we could take in a lot more color detail, so we started thinking a lot more cinematic, let’s do anything when it’s not action, not running around chasing action sequences, let’s time to sit back and get those big wide shots, those grand bigger scale production value on set.
Were Martin Scorsese’s movies the inspiration for The Raid 2?
Gareth Evans: I think Scrosese has influenced every person making films. Definitely the Sugar Cane scene, or the casino. What I love about is work is that even now “The Wolf Of Wall Street” is the coolest fucking film I have seen all year. And he just keeps doing it, because he keeps progressing and getting better and better. So yeah obviously there is going to be an influence in some way or another. What we were doing in this one, I created in my own image what the Indonesian maifa is like. I didn’t go off into and meet people. I didn’t ask “did you kill someone with a baseball bat.” The feel of it was based on movie gangsters, a stylized less comic-book feel to it. When it came to Alex Abbad’s character, the guy with the cane, the whole thing the sunglasses and slightly chubby cheeks, I based it off Seijun Suzuki’s film “Branded To Kill.” The main character in that had the same kind of look, part and big sunglasses. Then we started to play around with the idea that maybe we can bring in some comic-bookish elements into this like Hammer Girl and Baseball Bat man. I’m terrible with names. They come from that slightly fictitious world where blends reality. Cause when we tempt with keeping it grounded in reality so we don’t do acrobatics, we don’t do flips, we don’t do people flying in the air. The furthest we pushed it was the Babe Ruth moment. That was the XZY guys were producers, and they were questioning the script: “do you really want to do that with a baseball?” And I said “yeah, I do, I really want to go for it.” They were worried about it pushing over the edge, and I told them let me see how it looks when I shoot it because I can shoot it in a way that even though it’s ridiculous it feels like it works to a certain degree.
How did you create that car chase sequence, because it is pretty incredible.
I’m going to sound stupid, but what we did was buy a lot of toy cars. And we did that “neee” “bang” “bang”, and you get somebody on the iPhone and tell them “don’t get my face, I don’t want anyone to know I did this.”
Gareth Evans: Yeah, no. And what we did after that is, okay this is where I want to do this, this is where I want to do the action. And then we’ll go off and make the premixed version using computer software, very slow software, it’s not very detailed. There is no feeling of speed, so it is hard to tell or do it shot by shot the way we would do a fight scene. Then all of a sudden it’s hard touch. It’s really slow and boring shit, but it could look real good in the real speed and when camera angles are there. And then we had Bruce Law and the Hong Kong stunt team come in to Jakarta, and they sat down with us and went through everything, told us all the logistics of it. We needed a towbar to pull the car, and then we needed to put the camera in the front, and then we moved on to the next one. But we couldn’t do some at the same time, so we put the camera inside the car. We went through every little detail, what the set of it was, how many shots per day, how many locations we’ll need, do we need extra cars.
We also needed to put a roll cage in the car to protect the driver from injuries. 90 percent of it is logistics, and them executing the actual stunt to make it safe, and all we have to do is follow them, and keep up with the cameras, and it’s all good. But sometimes there will be little things along the way there it wasn’t as we planned it. The calculation can change in a snap. So what we did with the car going through the bus station was our plan initially was… oh man we spent so much fucking money on this… we used these huge cranes on both sides of the car, so we can put the camera on the wire and get this huge bird’s eye view of the bus station and the car was suppose to go through the station and skid on the road on its back. That was the plan. Then when the stunt guy got out, our plan was the smash it with another car to make it look like one progressive shot. But what happened was the car went through and came to me slower and slower, and it just stopped. Then the bus station fell down on top of it. Sometimes there is some improvisation, because the fighting we can control a lot more, but when it is literally a chunk of metal that’s moving on momentum, you haven’t much say in what you are going to do next.
There was also a scene where you needed to transfer one camera from one car to the other.
Gareth Evans: Yeah, that one was wow. We were trying to figure out how to do that shot. Cause we wanted to go one from one car to the other, and then out through the back window of that car. So we had an idea of doing it where it would be all green screen, we just have the cars in the studio, and put in the road in afterwards, but we were worried it would look so fake. So we didn’t do that. So we thought what about doing it on a flat bed truck where they were both connected. Then we were worried about the car looking to static because the car is not moving. So then we just ignored that we haven’t figured out how to do it yet, and as the day got closer and closer, I started talking and said we should just try it and do it. So we had the camera car and the fight car, and when we got to that same speed, he pushes the camera through an open window, and then the producer shouts action, and he pulls up and the whips across. He drives away, and another car pulls up, and matches the same speed. And as we coming into the speed, inside that car, the passenger seat is my DP. Then when that camera comes in he grabs it. And he is following the action, the actor responds to the back window blowing up, which we had precut, and the camera out, and what you don’t see is the platform lying down on the floor, and what we had was the third guy lying down and provides support and stability. It was one guy to another guy and another guy. The worst part of it was that it was the RED camera, and it didn’t have any rigging on it, and it couldn’t leave the box. It was literally the box, and we couldn’t get it though anything otherwise, and I am watching it.
Did you every do a count of how many bones Rama broke in the film?
Gareth Evans: We kind of lose count every now and then. The first one somebody did a count, I don’t know how much it was, it was something like 100. I watched this video clip about a month ago, and it was about all of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s kills in the three years since he started until now. There was a few times here it was like five or six people he kills, and I was kind of surprised. And then it hit Commando, and commando pushed to 100, and the weird thing about Commando is that 20 or 30 of them are in the first ten minutes, like 80 of them are in the last 15 to 20 minutes. That’s not a question I don’t know how to answer, but yeah, Rama kills a lot of people in the film. But I don’t think it’s that high in this film, it’s deceptively small. But he breaks a lot of bones.
What’s it like to get the critical acclaim and stardom from these Raid films.
Gareth Evans: It’s kind of weird. It’s one of those things where it’s reassuring to know that there are people who are actually okay with what we come up with and I don’t need therapy. The fame thing, and I guess for Iko as well, is that we both can kind of avoid it since we both live in Indonesia. Like for me, I am away from the industry a lot. Indonesia is kind of different from here – it’s like you can feel the industry everywhere. Like if you go in LA you can feel it, the presence is there. But in Indonesia, it’s kind of dotted around. Little group, little group, here and there. So we can go about our everyday life and be normal-ish people. I don’t feel like it’s affected me.
So where do you see this film going forward?
Gareth Evans: I’m going to go back a little. Basically what we did on The Raid 2 is went back two hours after The Raid finished. So what we are going to do after The Raid 3 is go back three hours before The Raid 2 finished. There is a scene there, there is a decision made by one of the groups, which you should already know by now. There is a decision made by a group towards the end of that film, and its a rash decision. That’s going to be the thing that sets of the spark of a whole lot of consequences and the different interactions we branch off into the story.
“The Raid 2” is out in theaters now.