Gareth Evans' sequel to his cult crime thriller/martial arts epic The Raid, also known as The Raid 2: Berandal, is currently playing in theaters (read our review), with a third installment in the extreme action franchise tentatively planned. Meanwhile, the property is getting a U.S. remake from Screen Gems, which has commissioned Patrick Hughes to serve as director on the contentious project.
Hughes isn't exactly a widely-known filmmaker for the time being, with only the well-received indie crime/thriller Red Hill to his name as a feature director. However, he's calling the shots on this summer's The Expendables 3; it seems Hughes' work on Sly Stallone's vintage action series, which can only be glimpsed in a teaser so far, was enough to secure him the intimidating job of following up Evans' acclaimed master class in storytelling through bone-crunching fisticuffs.
Coming Soon was among the movie/TV news sites that got a chance to pick Hughes' brain during a visit to the Expendables 3 set, which also afforded them the opportunity to ask questions about the director's plans for the Raid: Redemption remake. The filmmaker responded by voicing his reverence for Evans' original movie, while also indicating that the proposed redo was too intriguing on paper for him to pass up:
"We have a really, really interesting take on that film. One thing, obviously the original just blew my mind... The thing that blew my mind with that film was the aesthetics and the fight sequences but also the simplicity of the premise, and there's so much you can do with that. So our take on it is really interesting and I feel like if anything what I want to do is elevate the emotional aspect of it, and I think those are my favorite action films of all time when you can balance the action and the emotion..."
XYZ Films – which produced Evan's original Raid – will also back Hughes' remake; on top of that, Evans will be serving as an executive producer on the latter project, and the fight choreographers from his original Indonesian feature have also been recruited for the Hollywood retelling. Mind you, that doesn't at all guarantee that Hughes' remake will be able to match, much less exceed, the innovativeness and precision in execution of Evans' original project; it is, if nothing else, a step in that direction, though.
The script for The Raid: Redemption remake is being written by Brad Ingelsby (Out of the Furnace), who may or may not be carrying over material from an earlier screenplay draft that was put together by Erich and Jon Hoeber (writers on the RED franchise and Battleship game adaptation). Hughes gave CS some details on the storyline for the remake, offering a taste of how the original film's narrative is being "American-ized":
"Certainly, we're not there to recreate that film beat for beat, with the set up we're following a DEA task team, which was implemented by the Bush administration after September 11th when they realized that terrorism and the drug trade were so closely aligned. So they set up a DEA task team that's six units and they work across borders and sort of act like Navy SEALS. You never read about it, you never hear about it, but they go on these missions. So that's a really interesting take and a really nice premise and also what's interesting on this take on it is the clash of cultures and the clash of martial arts, the fighting styles, which is something that's going to be a lot of fun when we've really started pre-vizzing stuff."
Recent drug crime/thrillers churned out by Hollywood include filmmaker David Ayers' Sabotage, which got kicked to the curb by critics and has been largely ignored by the general moviegoing public - meaning, Hughes' Raid remake doesn't necessarily have to clear a high bar, to outstrip the recent competition. Additionally, the indication is that Hughes' film won't be focused exclusively on the en vogue topic of Mexican cartels, which could help it stand out more to newcomers to the Raid franchise.
Of course, U.S. remakes of foreign cult hits are always sold as being more than a "beat for beat" recreation... when, in reality, they can vary from very different and good on their own (see: The Departed) to almost exactly a play-by-play re-do (see: Oldboy). So, it may be best to keep an open mind about this whole project, which means not getting excited yet - but also not writing off this remake solely based on principle.
The Expendables 3 opens in U.S. theaters on August 15th, 2014.
We'll keep you updated on development for The Raid: Redemption remake.