THE RAID - Iko Uwais. Joe Taslim. Gareth Huw Evans. Fight!


AM - Let's go back to Thursday night. We had been waiting for it [THE RAID], for a long time, since production began, after Merantau. We had been waiting for the next project. It was supposed to be Berandal. We'd seen the proof on concept. We'd seen you sitting there, just ready to go, and you just start busting skulls. And we had a little bit of a setback. And THE RAID just barrels through. So we'd been watching that for a fairly long time. Being able to see it finally on Thursday night was this culmination of excitement. You guys come to Toronto. At all prepared? I had been talking to Gareth. And I had been saying this is a big crowd this is exciting they're going to be insane. 

JT - No idea. 

IU - That was surprise for us.

AM - Couldn't have even anticipated it? Cause I had told him it was going to be insane. They're going to go nuts. 

JT - We had no idea. We didn't have any hint that Gareth said the crowd was going to like it. Just like, Nervous. Because this is Toronto. All over the world. All the best countries. All the best, produced best movies. We're like, okay, we're Indonesian. It's the first time ever screening in Toronto. So, nothing to be expect. We've got nothing to lose. We just really honored that we be here, hopefully they love our movie. That's it.

AM - That's all you wanted. Just love the movie. 

JT - Love this one movie. Hopefully they don't say it sucks. So that's it. 

AM - You know, a lot of people were saying outside of the theatre after that they thought it was one of the best openers for the midnight madness program ever.

JT - EVER!?!

AM - Ever! That as far as opening films they thought it was one of the best they've ever seen. 

JT - In Toronto? 

AM - For the length of, as long as they've been going to the festival and midnight madness has been part of it, some people said it was one of the best openers they have ever seen. 

IU - Thank you so much.

AM- It has everything. 

IU - For our movie. It was the first time we watch our movie. 

JT - First time for us. We've never seen the full package of THE RAID. 

IU - Fight scene, alright? Maybe when Gareth edit the movie I come by, then that's it. But the whole thing? Not yet. 

AM - You have any idea? When you're watching the pieces? How the entire thing is going to be or were you just as excited about it when it was finished. 

JT - We find each other honestly [making faces at each other as they were during the screening] 

IU - [I] sat beside Gareth and Joe. Every fight scene, like the end of the fight scene, like- 

JT - Elbows. 

IU - Woah woah woah - and the blood - woah woah. Bump, bump. 

JT - Gareth! Gareth! 

AM - its working! Its working! I was sitting next to Matt, the DOP, and even he hadn't seen the full cut.

JT - Even Gareth-  

IU - Gareth already. Just once. 

JT - The full package? 

IU - The full package. Gareth. 

AM - Matt was saying that he had seen Merantau so many times. So many times. Because he is watching it and watching it and watching it. This is THE RAID for the first time. But he was having fun because I was anticipating every scene so when I saw the hallway, when you walk through the doors in hallway, I'm just like 'ah', and then the scene in the drug lab, and I know what is happening as it's setting up. And Matt, he's having fun because I'm [sounds of me being excited]. 

AM - And as far as the cast is concerned, you're the two guys with the most honor out of the entire team. The audience is immediately attracted to you guys, your characters, because you're in there, your intentions are true. I mean you're there [IU], not until-  I won't give it away because this is only the first crowd that's seen it- but later revealed who you're there for, your character, Rama's intentions are honorable. [To JT] Your character, Jaka's intentions are honorable. You just want to get your team out. The captain wants to get his team out. The rookie is there for another reason which we are not going to reveal because we have a lot more festivals to blow up. 

I want to talk about the choreography. I want to talk about setting it up. You guys just bust some skulls. Probably hasn't been that hard hitting a martial arts aspect to a film since SPL and Flashpoint. When Donnie Yen and [I was trying to remember Collin Chou]

IU - I know the guy. The fight with the knives right? 

AM - In SPL with Donnie Yen and Jing Wu, in the ally way, in SPL. that's hard. That's hard core. In Flashpoint it's when he goes up against [Collin Chou] when they have that rumble. That's when Donnie finally brought the mixed martial arts, the grappling and the ground game into it, and there is just a lot of the rough and tumble stuff. There hasn't really been anything that hard hitting since then. You come in and you're just busting skulls. You start with this action film. Guns. Explosions. You're blowing up people with refrigerators. And then once everybody's disarmed it's just back to what you've got. And what you have left. And so you're choreographing this kick ass movie-

[chuckles]

JT - Yes, absolutely.

AM - Did Gareth set that tone for you? Did he just say 'dude we're just gonna go hard core on this. We're just going to rip it up? Are you ready? Did he prepare you for that? Did he tell 'my intention with this film is to just go hard?' 

IU - In the beginning when we made the choreography for Berandal right? Already it's done. Finished. And just shoot. Then Suddenly Gareth is saying "Iko. We have maybe another project. It's not Berandal" 

JT - Pushed back

IU - Yeah. And can you make more choreography. New choreography. What the?!? [laughter] Just three months. 

AM - Just three months.

IU - just three months. 

AM - You put all that together in just three months. 

IU - Yep. Just three months. 

AM - Wow. So he gives you the story? 

IU - No. 

AM - No? 

IU - Just each of the scenes. Like, maybe, you can fight with five people. And then, the other guy, like your friend, two people. That guy, three people. Okay. You can combine. Okay. That's it. 

AM - That's it? 

IU - That's it.  

AM - He gave you no idea about layout. 

IU - No idea

AM - It's not gonna happen in a hallway. It's not gonna happen in this room... Wow. Did you have any idea of space? Of confinement? Being tight. How tight the scene was. How tight the space is. How much he had to work with. 

IU - no

AM - What a sneaky bugger. [laughter] What a jerk. 

JT - Maybe. Maybe. 

IU - Just ideas. Not the movement. "Okay Iko I want this guy [show moves on Joe] Kill him like 'snap'. You can throw on the wall. That's it. But, all the movement choreography you can make it". That's it. 

JT - He designed everything and then when Gareth come, Gareth add something. maybe-

IU - Like the ending

JT - Already designed. Already packaged. Come and give him [advice] from cinematography view. When you do this the angle's not right. Try another one. The frame made by Iko and Gareth come to give the cinematography feel to it. 

AM - I had seen some of that earlier conceptual stuff when you guys were in the studio. And you and Yuyan had worked together to pace it out. You had been working with the camera. I had seen some of that conceptual stuff well before even shooting. I didn't know if there was any idea of space. But I guess maybe the foundation of that was set when you were doing Berandal? When you were setting up for that. Because you knew what you had to do there. So just change it. Because that will be a tight space film too. The basis of that film is it's a prison film. So that isn't a very wide open space either. That will be very confined as well. So maybe the foundation or your thinking was already to 'small'. Rather than just thinking we can just run around everywhere, we can just chase each other. No, he's right here. He's right in front of me. I gotta do something now. 

IU - Maybe we when go on the set before we shoot like survey-

JT - The design [choreography] already done. And then before the shoot they're gonna see the location. Sometime they block the set. Gareth work with Iko, there is a wall. Use it. 

IU - The location's not fit for [to] the design. 

JT - They modify the set to fit the design.

Then I sat down with writer, director, editor, master of THE RAID Gareth Huw Evans.

AM - Going back to Thursday night the opening night of the festival the opening film it literally blew up, it was just amazing. I think we all finally got to see the final end result. I talked with Iko and Joe and Matt, no one had seen the final cut. Is that your first time seeing the final cut as well?

GE - I'd seen it, like reel to reel. I'd seen it play out, but not all in one flow. In Thailand we'd watch reel one then we have a break for five minutes, then reel two then a break for ten minutes, then a day and then we'd watch reel three, four and five. So, yeah, that was the first time to watch it all in one flow.

AM - And?

GE - And the audience were fucking amazing. They completely elevated the whole experience of it. It was such good fun. They killed it; it was so great. The thing is when you're watching your film for the first time.  You're really nervous you don't know if the film is going to hit everyone with beats. We had a feeling that some of the action scenes, some of the kills in the film would go over well with the audience but I no idea how they would respond to some of the sort of gloomier moments some of those tension moments. Couldn't have asked for more from the audience. They were great. 

AM - I had tried to prepare you as best I could.  But I could only tell you so much over the internet how our crowds going to be and how big it is going to be...

GE - It was our first midnight madness, ever. For anything. Let alone the first midnight madness for us to screen our film as well so that in itself is an incredible experience. We're really ecstatic that Colin [Geddes - Midnight Madness Extraordinaire] picked it for the opening film and we got to experience our first midnight madness in the best way we possibly could have. 

AM - The buzz outside the cinema outside afterwards too. You listened to people outside and a lot people were saying it's one of the best openers they've ever seen. 

GE - Oh wow-

AM - For the entire midnight madness - ever. Not only were they buzzing about it but they're also speaking really highly of it as far as the history of the festival. So that's pretty awesome as well.

GE - Considering the alumni of the midnight madness selection, the people that have had their films shown there, and the caliber of the films that have been a part of that thing? That is ridiculously humbling and overwhelming. Obviously we hear the buzz from it but not about it being that highly regarded in terms of the overall midnight madness slot. 

AM - We've been watching this for a long time. What's the history of this [film] because this wasn't initially going to be your second [film].

GE - Yeah. right after Merantau our plan was to go ahead and make Berandal and it was going to be a totally different film from Merantau and we spent about a year and half trying to get the financing of that, after a year and half of not being successful with it, cause for Indonesia it's a big budget, for America it is the smallest budget you can imagine. But it was just impossible to find the finance for it and we just couldn't get it up and running. so then I spoke with guys at XYZ, I think I spoke to Nathan, I said look I'm really sorry but I know you with been with us for a long time. We're not going to get this up and running in time and we need Iko to do a second movie. We needed to try to cement his reputation as somebody who could be a challenger for that next martial arts breakout star. So we really wanted a second movie with him. That is basically where THE RAID came from so I realized okay let's write something a little bit smaller. More manageable in terms of budget so then that kind of led to the idea of okay well let's do something which is set entirely in one building so I started searching through some ideas that I had and I found an old project that I had written before, some synopsis, various ideas, that we started combining together and that is how THE RAID came to be. 

AM - In my conversation with Iko and Joe they pretty much had a very short turn around for announcing that project and getting going on it.

GE - We'd literally got through our choreography probably in about two months, maybe three months of designing, and then we went straight into practice then straight into shooting. When we did Merantau we spent a lot longer, had a lot more time with Merantau, that was about a year and two or three months. But THE RAID was...  I think it is just under a year we've done it. 

AM - Wow. Quick.

GE - Yes, very quick.

AM - And to see it explode like that too, in such a short period of time, just to go from kind of coming out of a little bit of desperation into now into a bit of more of a control your destiny almost kind of deal.

GE - Before we came here all we wanted was quotes for our poster and things we can use back home to promote the film it's all we kind of hoped for so everything that has happened since that first screening has made this whole experience just incredible for us.

AM - The indication as to how people were catching on was probably back at Cannes where the guys from the sales company had taken those five clips-

GE - That was the weird thing because what happened with that we had sent out 3 or 4 scenes that were unfinished, no grading, no visual effects, just clips that we had sent to Cannes with XYZ and Celluloid Nightmares. Our aim was just to get buyers interested. It wasn't to sell; it was just to get people sort of interested that they might buy it when they see the finished film. We got really lucky and SONY took an interest and other distributors like Alliance, they took an interest. They went out on a limb and bought the rights for the film. I was still on location shooting at the time. We were shooting in the studio. And in between takes I could just feel my phone vibrate in my pocket and I just kept getting little messages from Todd 'okay we just sold this one, we just sold this one, we just sold this territory' and it was just blowing my mind that we were doing this deals and I was like okay I thought we were going to wait until we finished the film but it just kind of exploded and we got very, very lucky and very happy that they took the risk on us.

AM - It had to put pressure on you though

GE- Well. It did and it didn't. We were sort of two months into our shoot at that point so we were already running on empty when it came to energy. But if anything it gave us a bigger boost to just go, you know what, and our work is paying off. It kind of worked in that respect. We could tell all our crew who were exhausted. Cause we were doing long hours long hours. Our shortest day was about 16 hours. And our longest day was about 26, which technically could be our longest day and then out shortest day, two hours on the shortest day. We took that news and we announced it to the crew and they got to know that hey this film is going to go international and also congratulations, thank you for all your hard work, now let's kind of use that to push for the next two or three weeks to just finish this film. The pressure for me came mostly then in post production. I'll be honest when we were shooting I just thought okay let's just get this film finished. But then when it came to the idea of, 'oh my god I got to deliver a film for SONY'. That's when I started to get panicky, it wasn't until post production, and everything has to be polished. Everything has to look great. We're not allowed to have anything that stands out as being shitty, we've got to really, really, really dig into something and think above to board.

AM - When Todd had a chance to visit you in Jakarta the one thing that he did comment on was the number of takes, guys are being thrown to the ground 7, 8, 9 times cause you're not happy with how that happens or how Iko picks up Bowa in the hallway, you're very particular in how you want- 

GE - Seven or eight times is actually pretty good. [laughter] it's usually more than that [laughter] usually its more than that. Whenever we do the fight scenes we're always ready to go into double figures on it. That tends to be it. We got lucky on some of the moves. At the start of the shoot we actually started to get a couple of the shots within about four or five takes. And that was great. and that made me feel more confident thinking great, this is going to be good, we're gonna get through this fast, we're gonna get it in on time, and we're gonna kill the action scenes. Then you start to hit moments when here is where it just doesn't go for you anymore you're on take fifteen, you're on take twenty. One of the shot when we did for Mad Dog versus Jaka, we didn't get it until take forty. And that was a really simple movement as well. It wasn't that complex-  a fight move- in that shot. It was very, very basic. Sometimes, the camera off, and you go all over again. The choreography if off. You gotta go again. So it's a combination of everything. Sometimes you can't guess how long it's going to take to get a shot.
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