If the handful of trailers released to promote The Raid 2: Berandal (most of all the international clip) haven't already driven the point home, then let it be said that Gareth Evans' sequel to 2012's The Raid: Redemption is a very, very violent film. It's so violent, in fact, that some of the critics lucky enough to attend its world premiere screening at this year's Sundance Film Festival were actually appalled by the gruesome, bloody lengths Evan's movie goes to in the name of high-concept martial arts entertainment.
But naturally, the violence is a huge part of the point, something that Evans actively emphasized in front of a packed house at The Raid 2: Berandal's LA opening. It's hard to make a movie about a hero cop taking on the totality of Jakarta's criminal underworld - which includes, but isn't limited to, local area gangs, interloping Yakuza clans, corrupt cops, and assassins-for-hire - without breaking a few bones, for one, but besides that, fans tune in to the genre almost explicitly to watch finely choreographed mayhem for two hours.
So the best advice Evans can give to viewers is simple: "Enjoy the violence." Variety was in the house at the Harmony Gold Theatre as The Raid 2: Berandal debuted in the City of Angels this week, soaking in his words of wisdom on the role of the brutality on display in his new film, as well as hints and details about the potential third entry in his slowly-burgeoning franchise (something that's already come up a few times in the past). He was joined by his go-to leading man, Iko Uwais, who reprises his role from the original film; together, they discussed what goes into executing fight scenes like The Raid 2: Berandal's.
Uwais, like several other members of The Raid: Redemption's and The Raid 2: Berandal's ensembles (notably Yayan "Mad Dog" Ruhian, who serves as a fight coordinator on both), happens to bring real-life martial arts credentials to production: born from two Indonesian martial arts instructors, he's been practicing Pencak Silat since boyhood, so when you see him throw a punch on-screen, you know he's not screwing around.
Uwais spoke to the challenges inherent in transitioning from participating in martial arts competitions to acting, while Evans touched on his meticulously planned philosophy to staging fight sequences on-camera. Between the two, it's hard to tell who has the greater hurdle to overcome, but it's similarly easy to respect the way Uwais has to adapt from fighting for real to fighting for show, and the thought Evans puts into even the briefest bursts of choreography.
Says Evans in this direct quote:
If it’s a three-minute fight scene, we want to put four or five punch lines in there. Punch lines are like those moments in the prison riot when the guy has his head kicked into the tile. If you just stack (these moments) all up next to each other, it would (become) overkill.
There's already ample evidence demonstrating just how thoroughly Evans plots out combat in his films, but getting more insight into his process is hardly a bad thing; he's an exciting director with a fastidious approach to filmmaking. For fans, though, the more important question ties back to The Raid 3 and what, if anything, Evans has in mind as far as concept goes. Does the Welsh filmmaker have any new tricks up his sleeve for another outing in Jakarta?
Prepare to be disappointed: while Evans has some ideas, they're ideas we've heard before, and while he does have a vision for when he wants to make The Raid 3, Evans says we're all going to be in for a wait:
They’re going to have to wait a while. I don’t want to do it for three years, maybe. I do have a concept in mind. If this one is two hours after ‘The Raid’ finished, ‘Raid 3′ starts three hours before ‘The Raid 2′ finishes. So you go back in time a little and then branch off for a different story.
This just confirms what we already know about The Raid 3, and puts Evans in a position where he's not going to be working on it anytime soon; he has his hands in a couple of other projects as is (like Night Comes For Us, the latest film by Evans' Safe Haven cohort, Timo Tjahjanto), so after The Raid 2: Berandal makes landfall in the states, we probably won't be hearing from Rama for awhile.
Viewers still have that film to look forward to, of course, so no one should take the news too hard; it's just a couple of weeks until the Raid 2 unleashes carnage in theaters. That ought to keep Evans' fans sated until next time.
The Raid 2: Berandal opens in U.S. theaters on March 28th, 2014.