Last year, Screen Rant's Kofi Outlaw gave The Raid: Redemption five stars and ranked it as his second favorite action movie of all time (just behind Die Hard). The praise surrounding this low-budget Indonesian action movie, written and directed by Welsh martial arts fan Gareth Evans, was widespread and earned it an 84% score on Rotten Tomatoes, along with a worldwide gross of around four times its original production budget.
Planning begun on a sequel, titled Berandal, shortly after the release of the first film, and the sequel commenced shooting in January of this year. We've already had hints of what to expect, with a new character called "Hammer Girl" and confirmation that the sequel will be set immediately after the end of the first film.
When I spoke to Evans about Berandal last year, he promised that they were planning on making a much bigger movie this time:
"We're expanding the universe now, so it's not going to be set in the building any more, it's going to be out on the streets, and so it's a much bigger film, it's a much more ambitious movie. We've got some big action setpieces lined up."
Evans is keeping those setpieces under wraps for now, but that doesn't mean he's not going to tease us by giving us a glimpse at the aftermath. The writer-director tweeted this still from the filming of a shoot-out, along with the warning that it's "not for kiddos."
Check out the photo below (click to enlarge):
Evans' twitter feed is worth following for those who are interested in the making of an independent martial arts action movie. He also recently posted a recipe for DIY squibs made from condoms, complete with this image of the condom-squib in action.
The fight choreography in the Raid films is based on an Indonesian/Malaysian form of martial arts called Silat. Evans says that he is heavily influenced by Eastern action Movies, and fell in love with martial arts movies from a very young age:
"When I grew up, seeing Bruce Lee for the first time was like watching a superhero, but for real. I couldn't believe that a real human could move that fast."
When asked about making the art of Silat look good on the big screen, Evans praises his cast, in particular his regular lead, Iko Uwais, who quit his day job as a driver for a telecommunications company when Evans asked him to join his production company, Merentau films, as a lead actor.
According to Evans, it's the performers who succeeded in making The Raid: Redemption's action scenes so brutal:
"A large part of that comes from the cast that you have, from the actual lead performer. Iko's an incredible martial artist, he's a Silat specialist, and he understands movement, he understands what works on camera and what doesn't, and that's a really rare skill to have with a screen fighter. Silat itself lends itself very well to film. There's a juxtaposition in terms of the approach to an attack, which is very graceful and beautiful, but that moment of impact turns ugly in an instant.
"You can be an incredible screen fighter, but if the people you're fighting with can't react properly, you're no good at all. We rely so much on the stunt teams and the fighters who come in and are willing to put their bodies through a lot of punishment for us. It's as much on them as it is on the lead."
Evans also uses a non-traditional choreography style in his films; despite being a devoted fan of martial arts cinema, he says that he doesn't wish to follow exactly in the footsteps of his his heroes. Instead, he prefers to take a more realistic, gritty and - if the new images are anything to go by - ultra-violent approach to fight scenes:
"We try to keep our fights grounded in reality. We're big fans of Hong Kong and Thailand action cinema, and we love watching these movies, but we need to do something to differentiate ourselves from them. We're still in our infancy ... they've had decades to perfect their craft, so who are we to try and compete with them at what they do best?
"Our approach is grounded in reality. We don't break the laws of physics, we don't break gravity, we don't add acrobatics, so nobody does triple twists and a kick. When you watch the fight scene, I want you to feel like if you'd studied martial arts as well, you could do this."
I know that I'm definitely looking forward to seeing more of Uwais and co. in action.
The Raid 2: Berandal is currently still filming, but we'll let you know as soon as it gets a release date.