We wondered where, exactly, this movie came from since, well, Evans doesn't exactly hail from Indonesia. "It came from my sick, twisted brain," Evans joked. The movie seems to have been primarily inspired by a kind of creative desperation. "We finished the first movie, 'Merantau,' and we were looking to get a budget together to do a second film. And that proved really difficult. We spent a year-and-a-half getting the money, and after a year-and-a-half of not getting a movie made. I felt we really needed a second movie. So, knowing that I was going to have to work on a tight budget and there was the idea of containing it to one location, so we couldn't get rained off set." Evans said that the one-location constriction made him think of films he loved with similar conceits. "It set the tone of, 'What are the great films I love that are set in one location?' Films like 'Die Hard' and 'Assault on Precinct 13.'" Both films you can heavily feel in 'The Raid,' but what about the location and fighting style?
One thing that's very striking about "The Raid: Redemption" is that, for all its frantic, nonstop action, you're never confused about what's going on or who is being shot at or what the goals for any particular sequence are. And it's a huge testament to Evans' skill behind the camera that he can pull all of this off – there's at least a half dozen central SWAT team characters and dozens of villainous thugs to keep track of. We wondered what he was inspired by, especially given modern directors' insistence on jittery hand-held camera work that obscures all but the most essential bits of each scene.
Another influence, perhaps subconsciously, were old school videogames. A colleague pointed out this connection as we were leaving the screening and we had to ask Evans if this was intended. He said yes. "To a certain extent it's inevitable," Evans admitted. "When the set up is, they have to get to the top floor and the boss is up there. When that happens I don't see it as an insult either because I fucking love videogames." Part of that escalation was built into another aspect of modern action movies that he's sick of. "I hate when I see an action movie start with an incredible action sequence and nothing after it manages to match up, like the ending is a whimper and they spent all the money on the first ten minutes," Evans said. "So I felt like we had to keep ramping it up and we start good and keep getting better and better until the final fight is just the best fight you could do. And that requires you to do that thing where each opponent has to be a different level of threat. If it's just Iko walking through and obliterating people all the time then it gets boring fast."
Trapanese described their working relationship as, "A great collaboration right from the beginning." Their way of working was incredibly collaborative, according to Trapanese. "Every once in a while we would take a scene for ourselves but for the majority of it we would each start a scene and then pass it along to the other person to wrap up," he said. Apparently the idea for an alternate score for the American release was something that was floated about quite early in the process. "About two months into the shoot, Sony Pictures picked up the rights to the film. And one of the first things they broached was, 'We might want to do a score we can bring to the film for a US audience,'" Evans explained. "When we finally got a chance to speak, I had just come off working on the score with the original guys and Mike was talking about how he wanted to approach it, it was one of those things where I had so much reassurance from them that I could completely trust them and interpret the film in the way that they thought was right." The end result is a propulsive, nerve-fraying score that perfectly accompanies the bone-splitting visuals.
"The first thing I want to do is a sequel to 'The Raid,'" Evans said, without missing a beat. "That'd be off in Indonesia. It's going to be on the streets this time. We're going to meet the guys that gave that guy the building. The first one was small fries compared to what we're going to do in the second." He sounds more cautious about talking about the movie to follow-up 'The Raid' sequel. "After that it's about finding something that feels right as my first English language project. I'm not going to jump onboard a franchise if it's just based about a bit of hype and buzz off this one," Evans said. He wants everyone to know what they're getting into before the ink is dry. "Whoever I work with next is going to have to want my version of that film and what I can bring to it as opposed to that there's some inches of press. I'm being a little cautious in terms of what I can do next as an English language project."
"We wanted to and Sony wanted to keep it as 'The Raid.' And then, right up until the last minute, we couldn't get legal clearance on the title, so we had to put something on it," Evans said. Which had been particularly annoying since it had played as "The Raid" (no subtitle) at Toronto and Sundance. "We had spent five months trying to raise awareness on a movie called 'The Raid' so we didn't want to call it something like 'Death Battle' or 'The Legend of the Raid Warrior,' which is what usually happens with Asian movies. So we just added a word. We couldn't call it 'The Raid: Part One.' We had to think of a word that was relative to the subplot of the film and it's a little bit of a spoiler but it works." Don’t worry: the word "redemption" isn't any kind of spoiler, and you have to squint and stand on your head for it to even make sense after you've seen the movie.
We were somewhat concerned with the way that "The Raid: Redemption" is being released. Last year there was a SXSW sensation that was ultimately picked up and distributed by Sony (under their Screen Gems banner) and it wasn't quite the hit many thought it would be: "Attack the Block." Evans said that he loves "Attack the Block" but doesn't feel nervous. "The guys at Sony Pictures Classics, they know what they're doing," he said. "That's been apparent to us since they got on board. It's built up this hype. We're feeling that in Indonesia, even. We feel like the buzz is getting bigger and bigger and bigger."
And even if the film isn't some kind of blockbuster, Evans is still happy. "I think the response we've had critically and from the audience as well, is so great and overwhelming that personally, I'm satisfied. That's it."
"The Raid: Redemption" kicks your ass on March 23rd.