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Be Brave, Be Strong... Berandal...

Written by (Far Eastern Editor) on 2nd February 2014

As we wait for the release of The Raid 2: Berandal in the UK Impact's own Mike Leeder revisits his time on the highly anticipated production...

The Leeder Column - The Raid 2

One of the most highly anticipated action films of recent times, The Raid 2: Berandal, made its world premiere at this year’s Sundance Film Festival, where the collective sound of a hundred film critics' jaws could be heard dropping as the film hit the projector and the positive reviews hit the industry papers with glee. Of course, we’d all been excited about the Gareth Evans sequel since we first reported on its production announcement and the snippets of information we got from our Eastern Editor Mike Leeder who was working on the film... and then when we started to see footage from the film during post-production, our expectations were raised.

It would seem that Gareth Evans and his team have delivered on everything we could want and more...

"The whispers and screams from the Park City crowd present at the world premiere suggest that the Raid 2 might be one of the best action sequels since Terminator 2: Judgment Day..."

I’d first heard of Gareth during the filming of his first feature in Indonesia, Merantau and interviewed him during production, before meeting him in person thanks to the 'Great Canadian of the Galaxy' Todd Brown from Twitchfilm at the Hong Kong Filmart a few months later with his producing partner Ario Sagantoro. Over the years since then, we’d kept in touch sharing a mutual love of action and martial arts films and would chat about various projects we were working on or wanted to do... and would bounce ideas back and forth. Sometimes I was lucky enough to get a sneak peek at certain footage and asked for my opinion on it. It was frustrating to see Gareth develop a project called Berandal, and then struggle to secure the financing and control he needed to make the film the way he wanted to.

But it was equally inspiring to see him develop The Raid, on the grounds of wanting to do something with his team, and to take the limitations of his budget and craft something that would make the best use of his resources. That project came to be The Raid, and through our friendship I got to get early glimpses at the project through the shoot and post. I was overjoyed and proud to be a witness to the incredible response the film was given and its success around the world. The funny thing was that the failure to secure the funding for the original concept for Berandal, would be the trigger behind the creation of The Raid, and its success would open the doors for Gareth to not only revisit the idea for Berandal, but expand upon those ideas and make it a sequel to The Raid.

"The Raid 2 is a direct follow on from the first movie only in terms of the characters and the universe it inhabits. The last thing I wanted to make with this opportunity to stretch ourselves was THE RAID 2: BIGGER F###KING BUILDING… The whole thinking process was if we are going to do this we have to do something that expands every aspect of the original not just ramp up the action but also to give weight to the set pieces by developing a more complex plot driven by more complex characters..."

- Gareth Evans

Raid 2 poster

I was working on the casting for Man of Tai Chi and had arranged to bring Gareth’s leading man, Iko Uwais, onboard in a cameo role when Gareth mentioned that for Berandal,  he had an idea for an epic car chase that he felt would need the expertise of someone who would not only be able to safely coordinate and choreograph the sequence but also would understand the vision for the way Gareth wanted to shoot the scene... that would not only feature vehicular mayhem, but guns and martial arts in the midst of it all.

Gareth not only wanted to have an epic car chase, but he had ideas for not only story beats in the scene but some very specific shots in mind that would need to be planned for, to tell the story the way he wanted and asked for my recommendation. Now the man I was very happy to recommend for the job, is someone I would without hesitation call the best vehicular and pyrotechnical coordinator in South East Asia, but also someone I am proud to consider a very good friend, Bruce Law of Bruce Law Stunts Unlimited. Bruce has worked with everyone from Jackie Chan to John Woo, Jet Li to Donnie Yen, Michael Mann to Michael Bay and more, with one hell of an impressive list of credits that includes the original Police Story, Crime Story, Police Story 3: Supercop, The Killer, Hardboiled, Full Throttle, The Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Emperor and his own directorial outing Extreme Crisis.

"A car chase sequence so dizzyingly inventive it would send Jason Bourne spinning off the pavement..."

The Raid 2 - motorcycle stuntI arranged a meeting with Bruce over lunch with Gareth, while he Iko and Yayan were in town for the Hong Kong Premiere of The Raid. Gareth presented Bruce with some early video storyboards and ideas including some of the shots that he thought might be an issue.  Bruce not only got Gareth’s vision for the chase, but also began to suggest ways to shoot it, how to modify and enhance certain shots and explained that some shots Gareth thought might need to be done as CGI could be done for real if planned and coordinated the right way. And that was pretty much the decider.. a few months later Bruce and myself made a quick trip to Jakarta to do a tech scout and check out the locations while confirming exactly what equipment and personnel would be needed for the shoot. In the spring of 2013, I flew out to Jakarta with Bruce and his team to spend 6 weeks working on The Raid 2, to put together one hell of a car chase and a few other action beats.

"The man is an absolute genius!"
- Gareth Evans (on Bruce Law).

It was funny that while my godfather Alip Sak (Nightlife Hero, Dara Dai Cinta, Fight: City of Darkness) is based in Jakarta, I hadn’t actually been to Jakarta in more than 15 years and apart from a few quick trips to Bali, hadn’t spent much time in Indonesia for a very long while. But 2012 saw me spending three months shooting the HBO-Asia original series Serangoon Road on locations in both Singapore &and the Indonesian island of Bataam, before heading to Jakarta for The Raid 2 in both December 2012 and then April, May and early June 2013.

The Raid 2: Berandal begins from where the first film ends... with Rama (Iko Uwais) going undercover to infiltrate the ranks of a ruthless crime syndicate in a Jakarta, where the Yakuza and various factions of the local criminal underworld are at war. In deep cover, forced to turn his back on his real family and friends in order to protect them, Rama is forced to question himself: is he a cop pretending to be a criminal or a criminal pretending to be a cop. His investigation uncovers secrets on both the criminal underworld and his own Police force, and he begins to question to whom he owes his loyalties.


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Written By

Mike Leeder

Far Eastern Editor

Mike Leeder

Based in Hong Kong since 1990, in addition to serving as Far Eastern Editor for Impact, and contributing to a variety of publications, Mike also works with several DVD companies acquiring films and creating bonus...

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