Sunday, April 01, 2012

Black Sheep interviews Gareth Evans

An interview with THE RAID: REDEMPTION writer/director, Gareth Evans

Don’t you hate it when movies about specific events spend so much time distracting from the task at hand with unnecessary and often insipid subplots to tug at your heart strings? When I see a movie about a bunch of highly trained police officers carrying out a violent and bloody raid on a heavily guarded gang run drug operation, I don’t want anything to take me out of the action. This is why I love THE RAID: REDEMPTION.

“I knew this film was going to focus on one event, the raid on this building,” Welsh born director, Gareth Evans (27), tells me over the phone, just as his third martial arts film is about to make a serious play at the North American market. “It’s set over the course of ten or eleven hours. It just didn’t make sense to have too many plot points or twists. It would be overwhelming.”

THE RAID relies instead on simpler elements everyone can understand - a pregnant wife at home, a crooked cop, brothers on both sides of the law - to tell its story. Rather than come across as tired though, the familiarity allows for the true star of the film, the incredible action sequences, to take center stage, where they rightfully belong. As a result, Evans is bringing Silat, a martial arts practice specific to Indonesia, where this film was made, to an international audience.

Evans on the set of THE RAID
“The thing I love about it, more than anything, is there is a certain juxtaposition with Silat,” Evans begins to explain, his voice noticeably lighter when speaking about something he so clearly loves. “The actual movement before the attack is beautiful to look at. The way they move, there is almost a rhythm and a clarity to it.” It is at this point that Evans loses his train of thought, distracted by his own passion.

Evans was introduced to Silat when he met the star of THE RAID, Iko Uwais, on the set of a documentary about the practice itself. Evans was so impressed with Uwais, that he cast him in his first film, MERANTAU, and the two have worked together since. “Iko’s way of performing Silat is moving. He understands how to perform for the camera. That’s another rare gift to have,” Evans gushes.

Uwais in THE RAID
In January, Evans begins working on the sequel to THE RAID, with Uwais at his side, of course. He then plans to make an English language film in the UK or the United States. He swears he will always come back to Indonesia to make martial arts movies though. “This is the world I want to live in as a filmmaker.”

Here is the Black Sheep review ...

Written and Directed by Gareth Evans
Starring Iko Uwais, Joe Taslim and Doni Alamsyah

Keeping it simple is what Welsh director, Gareth Evans’ Indonesian martial arts film, THE RAID: REDEMPTION has going both for it and against it at times. Rather than bothering with elaborate character development and subplots, Evans focuses his film on the task at hand, a police raid on a drug slum building. There are enough archetype elements to the story (crooked cops, brothers on both sides of the war) to form a familiar structure but the depth stops there. While this can make for a lack of attachment to any person on screen, it does allow the viewer to fully admire the brilliantly executed fight sequences, which at times are completely mesmerizing. Who needs character anyway?

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