This week, Gareth Evans’ truly stellar action masterpiece The Raid 2 arrives in theaters. To get you ready for all the madness, Daily Dead recently chatted exclusively with Evans about his approach to creating a complex world filled with a multitude of engaging characters for his sequel, how he nailed some of his more complex scenes including an incredible car chase sequence, how The Raid star Iko Uwais has evolved as an actor and gives us a tease of what we can expect for The Raid 3.

Congratulations on a truly fantastic sequel, Gareth. When we spoke a few years ago for the first Raid, you had said that this one was going to blow away anything we saw in the first one. And I’ve heard directors say that before about sequels they were planning but wow- I think you are the first to deliver on your word because The Raid 2 is just brilliant stuff all around.

Gareth Evans: Oh, thank you so much (laughs); that means a lot to me. I think that was the whole goal, to not fall into the same trappings again and repeat ourselves. There were little things we did to sort of reference the first Raid, like some little bits with choreography that we did. There was that moment with the motorbike guy wearing the helmet during the car crash that was in reference to the scene in the first Raid where Joe (Taslim) pulls that guy down, down, down through the levels and we wanted to find a cool way to top that. So that’s how we came up with the motorbike guy shot in The Raid 2 where it’s sort of the same effect but it’s pulling the guy though open windows in moving cars and we go full on (laughs).  So there are little bits like that.

Then, there’s the scene when Prakoso’s in the alleyway, with his face against the wall and then the drag-down; that was an homage to the face against the tiles scene in the first one. So things like that, again. But it was a bit of a relief though, to be able to just let loose and do something completely different but within the same universe. You know, to be able to say that everything in the first one had to be that dark, dingy gray with that horrible texture all because it was inside that building and now, I was able to ask for a really elegant, red-carpeted ballroom that looks really beautiful and crisp and just that one set feels entirely different than all of the first Raid.

I also wanted to do this prison riot scene that will be muddy and chaotic and crazy. To be able to mix all those different textures, different feels and how they reflected on the different class levels as well was great. To be able to have a movie that has a lot of different colors to it, a lot of different styles of shooting as well and looks is a remarkable thing. Like, whenever we shot the Japanese guys, I shot it like it was an old-school Japanese film where we have a lot of controlled shots where you feel like you’re present there with them.  So there were a lot of things like that that we were able to play around with and have some fun.

Every single character in the film has a story and you find so many different ways of telling us those stories too, because it’s not like you bog us down with 20 minutes of exposition or anything like that. Sometimes you gave us these little glimpses, like when Hammer Girl has to fix her sunglasses and you can see what’s been hiding behind the entire time. Moments like those were so telling and so great and that was certainly one of my favorite character moments in the film.

Gareth Evans:  Okay, so you’re the first to comment on Hammer Girl and the eye so I’m sitting here a little stunned; really, you are the first person to mention that to me at all so just know I love you to bits (laughs).  So thank you for picking up on that, that’s awesome. You win (laughs).

And for Hammer Girl, the idea was that I was able to put in these little character details that represented these bigger chunks of backstory that never make it into the film. A lot of ideas on where they came from, what things they’ve been through that has shaped who they are when we see them in The Raid 2 and so I had to find way to introduce hints of these elaborate backstories, just enough to hint at their past and their personalities where you take something away from it and can interpret it any way you want to.

One of my favorite moments out of the whole thing for Hammer Girl was when she’s sitting at the bar with her back to everyone and she’s told, “okay, go and kill people now,” she doesn’t hear anything so she just sits there. But then Baseball Bat Boy pulls at her, so she knows it’s time to go and fight so she just lets him pull her along as she grabs for her hammers on the bar much like a child would for a doll they almost left behind. It was this child-like touch to her character and I talked to Julie (Estelle) about that moment and to make her understand why Hammer Girl would act like that, I had to give her her character’s backstory.

And the backstory for Hammer Girl and Baseball Bat Boy was like this- so every night, their father would sit them down at a small table and pull out this coin that he would spin on the table. And for whichever side the coin landed on that particular evening, that was the child he would then beat that night. So that coin represented pain. One fateful night, it was Hammer Girl’s turn to get beat but Baseball Bat Boy flipped it over to his side so that he could take the punishment. Their father went kind of nuts and beat them both so severely that he damages her eye in the process and they, in turn, find strength together and beat their father to death after that. So that’s just their origin story and all the characters in the movie had these kinds of stories too. Maybe we’ll do an origins comic book for these guys though; I think that could be fun.

It’d definitely be a cool read for fans, for sure. Now, you mentioned the car chase scene and I wanted to talk about that for a moment because some of the things you guys did with the cameras were incredible.

I know there’s a featurette that breaks down how you guys did it but can you talk about your overall approach to it? And did your DP think you were a complete lunatic when you told him all the crazy stuff you wanted to do in it (laughs)?

Gareth Evans: So for the car chase, I had this idea for this one shot because when we made the first Raid, we did this moment when Iko jumps through the floor and the camera followed down with him and then it kept moving with him. The way we did that was we passed off the camera and had three guys positioned in a way so that the camera never stops moving. We couldn’t afford rigging that would drop down and snake around how we needed it to so we had to do it old school.

So I said to Matt (Flannery), my DP, that we were going to do another pass off for The Raid 2 but this time, we were going to do a pass off between one car and another.  He was like, “oh yeah? Are they parked or something?” and I said, “Nah, they’re going to be driving along.” So Matt was like, “Oh, well they’re going to be driving side-by-side, yeah?” and I was like, “Well actually, we’re going to come in through the far side of one car, through the opposite window and then through another car and then through again.”

Matt was all like, “Well, we’re going to do this on a flatbed then, right?” and I said, “Actually, the cars are going to be moving at like 50-60 mph while we’re trying to do the pass off.”  And he just called me a maniac and laughed but he knew that if we could pull this off, the behind-the-scenes would be astounding and he was going to look like a hero (laughs). And he does. It only took us like seven or eight takes too.

What’s incredible about all that is that if you made this movie here in the States, any big studio would tell you that you guys were going to have to shoot this sequence on a green screen stage, which I think only elevates the entire chase scene even more so.

Gareth Evans: We actually did think about doing this green screen for a while, but we knew it could end up looking so fake because we didn’t have the kinds of tools that we needed to make the scene look as realistic as possible. We also thought about doing flatbed trucks next to each other so we could run back and forth across them, but that also didn’t have a realistic look to it either. So we were just like, okay- we HAVE to do it this way or it won’t work.

Let’s talk about Iko’s performance too because, it’s not that he was lacking confidence at all in The Raid, it’s just that he’s got a new sense of confidence to him this time. Was that something that came about because of his work as Rama on the first film or was it a result of you two working together on this character through two different movies?

Gareth Evans: I like to take the blame a little on the first Raid because, for me, I had so much fun writing all the villains that I think I wrote Rama a little too stoically. He wasn’t charismatic enough of a character and I think he even lacked a little humor too. Iko can handle the physical stuff with absolutely no problem, but I didn’t give him enough with the character to make a full impression in the first film, I think.

For this one, Rama wasn’t just a SWAT Team cop anymore; you’re a cop who is having to pretend to be a gangster and I want to feel like you are a cop who is trying to pretend to be a gangster so his performance had to be a little imperfect this time. It was a super-complex performance because it had to hit those imperfect beats too; if Rama had done everything perfectly, it wouldn’t have stayed true to his character at all.

The thing I was most proud of Iko for though was the scene when he does the phone call home to his wife because it’s such a perfect moment. Just right before he has to do a call where he’s angry and full of rage against his employer and then he calls his wife and all that melts away. And we shot all that in one take so he had to just be in those two very different moments continuously so we could get the camera movements around him just right and he nailed it. I get goosebumps every time I watch it. And I think part of why he’s grown as a performer as well is because he’s now a dad and so his world has changed, his experiences are changing and that’s changing him as an actor. And all that gave me more that I could play with too.

For my last question I want to talk about where the third Raid film will go from here. I know you had always planned this as a trilogy, so have you even begun thinking about the next chapter at all? And do you think there’s a happy ending in all of this for Rama?

Gareth Evans:  Whoa, that’s a good question.  That’s really interesting. But to answer your question, I do already know what The Raid 3 is going to be and again, it’s going to be very, very different from these two films. It’s a continuation story and the idea is, The Raid 2 picked up at about two hours after The Raid ends and so The Raid 3 is actually going to start three hours before The Raid 2 finishes. So we go back in time and there’s a sequence where a decision gets made by a certain person and The Raid 3 is all about the fallout from that and then we branch off from there.


  • Heather Wixson
    About the Author - Heather Wixson

    Heather A. Wixson was born and raised in the Chicago suburbs, until she followed her dreams and moved to Los Angeles in 2009. A 14-year veteran in the world of horror entertainment journalism, Wixson fell in love with genre films at a very early age, and has spent more than a decade as a writer and supporter of preserving the history of horror and science fiction cinema. Throughout her career, Wixson has contributed to several notable websites, including Fangoria, Dread Central, Terror Tube, and FEARnet, and she currently serves as the Managing Editor for Daily Dead, which has been her home since 2013. She's also written for both Fangoria Magazine & ReMind Magazine, and her latest book project, Monsters, Makeup & Effects: Volume One will be released on October 20, 2021.