As the release of The Raid 2 inches ever closer, Impact exclusively catches a few moments from the set of the much-anticipated sequel…
On the set of The Raid 2Impact: Gareth, can you give us a sneak peek of what to expect from The Raid 2, and would you say the film is a direct follow up to the first film or not?
Gareth Evans: The Raid 2 is a direct follow on from the first movie only in terms of the characters and the universe it inhabits. The last thing I wanted to make with this opportunity to stretch ourselves was THE RAID 2: BIGGER F###KING BUILDING… The whole thinking process was if we are going to do this we have to do something that expands every aspect of the original not just ramp up the action but also to give weight to the set pieces by developing a more complex plot driven by more complex characters.
I feel what we have done is take what we have learnt from both Merantau and The Raid, and hopefully put it to good use on this film
A large part of that expansion was how with an increased budget we were able to afford to do more than we could with the first. That’s not to say that we were comfortable with the budget it still would be considered low by Hollywood standards literally every penny is going to be up there on the screen. But what it allowed to do was to shoot using RED for the first time (and holy f*ck the images look beautiful shooting in scope and 4K) but it also gave me the chance to enlist the help of Bruce Law Stunts to oversee the execution of our most ambitious scene, a 6-7 minute car chase, fight, shoot out that we simply could not have done without his guidance and experience.
It was an absolute pleasure working with Bruce, I geeked out endlessly at his tales of working with John Woo on Hardboiled and countless other projects with John Woo, Jackie Chan, Donnie Yen and more, with Mike Leeder’s assistance ensuring a smooth working environment for both Indonesian and Hong Kong crew, the whole process stopped feeling like work and just became this enriching creative process, albeit one with cars smashing the living crap out of each other
Berandal: The Raid 2 poster
Impact: Mike, most of Impact’s readers know you as our HK mainstay, sohow did you get involved in the project and what can you tell is about the film?
Mike Leeder: I’d first got to know Gareth during the shooting of his first film with Iko, Merantau and finally met him through Todd Brown of Twitchfilm at the Hong Kong Filmart a few years ago. We’d kept in touch over the years, sharing a mutual love of action and martial arts films and would chat about various projects we were both working on, bouncing ideas and opinions back and forth and several times I was lucky enough to be given a sneak peek at certain footage, and asked for thoughts on what I saw. It had been frustrating to see Gareth struggling to secure the financing and control he needed for the project he’d originally planned as the follow up to Merantau, and then very inspiring and rewarding to see how he then came up with the idea for The Raid, making the most of his resources in development and shooting, and to witness the incredible reaction and success the film had.
While he was developing The Raid 2, at one point he asked me for a suggestion for someone who would be able to safely coordinate the car chase he wanted to do, a chase for which he already had some very specific shots in mind for that would help tell the story during the chase. I was very happy to suggest Hong Kong stunt maestro Bruce Law and his team, Bruce is a very good friend but first and foremost he is one hell of a coordinator. His credits include everything from Hardboiled through Police Story, Crime Story, Police Story 3: Supercop, Full Throttle, Thunderbolt, Extreme Crisis, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor, Special ID and so much more, he’s worked with everyone from John Woo to Jackie Chan, Jet Li to Donnie Yen, Stephen Chow and so many more. I arranged a meeting with Gareth, Iko and Yayan with Bruce while they were here for the Hong Kong premiere of The Raid.
Gareth presented Bruce with some early video storyboards and ideas including some very specific shots etc. that he thought might be an issue, and Bruce straight away suggested ways to shoot it, to modify the shot and to enhance certain ideas and that was pretty much the decision maker, a few months later Bruce and myself went out to Jakarta to do a tech scout and look at the locations while confirming what equipment and personnel would be needed for the Indonesian shoot. Then I travelled out with Bruce and his team to spend 6 weeks working with Gareth and his team, and Bruce and his team to get one hell of a car chase in the can, the Indonesian team might not have really shot anything like it before but they rose to the occasion and Bruce and his guys were happy to work with them, and share their knowledge and experience to ensure shooting went smoothly.
Behind the Scenes on The Raid 2I was also very happy to get to work with leading man Iko Uwais for the second time, I’d previously cast him for his cameo role in Keanau Reeves Man of Tai Chi and he was so easy-going, gracious and came into the shoot with no attitude.
(The ironic thing is that we had signed Iko to the film just before The Raid came out, and despite its success, Iko and his management didn’t try to change the deal, make any ridiculous demands or cop an attitude, he came in and was truly professional as a screenfighter, an actor and as a person. The funny thing is at same time as Iko came in for rehearsals we were having issues with one screenfighter who I’d always wondered why they hadn’t progressed, as they have the skills, and a great look, then I worked with him and completely understood why he hasn’t moved forward. Ego and attitude has held him back and will no doubt to continue to do so!) It was great also to spend time with Mad Dog himself Yayan who may play one hell of a villain on screen, but is one of the nicest people in real life, both he & Iko are superb martial artists and I wish them every success!
It really was an honour, a pleasure and a great adventure to be part of The Raid 2: Berandal and I cannot say enough thanks to Gareth and the rest of the team for their welcome, their support, their hard work and friendship. And I really think the response to The Raid 2’s first teaser trailer has confirmed how much people are looking forward to seeing this film, and having seen a lot more of the action and scenes that are to come, I am as excited to see the finished film as anybody else!
I really enjoyed my time in Indonesia, it’s funny but I hadn’t been back to the country for several years, and in the last year I made a number of trips there for the HBO Asia project Serangoon Road for which I did the casting and for The Raid 2. Indonesia is a sleeping giant, it’s like China 20 years ago in terms of the way the economy is growing and it’s about to make a giant leap forward, and I can see Indonesia becoming just as much o a major player as China has become.