Gareth Evans doing what he does best.
January 25, 2016 2:29 PM   Subscribe

Director Gareth Evans (Merantau, The Raid, and The Raid 2) has posted a test action sequence to his YouTube channel. "In a time of civil war, a young warrior is given the task of delivering a treaty between two rival lords. During her journey through the woods however, she finds herself hunted by two assassins intent on intercepting her message of peace in a bid to maintain the fear, instability and violent rule of their leader."

The assassins are played by Yayan Ruhian and Cecep Arif Rahman. Even if you haven't seen the Raid films (you should), you might recognize them as members of Kanjiklub in The Force Awakens.
posted by brundlefly (31 comments total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
 
This is fun for a PG samurai thing, although I don't care if it is a test, the crocs really bug me.
posted by nushustu at 2:33 PM on January 25, 2016


Considerably more compelling than the recent Crouching Tiger sequel trailer, Crocs notwithstanding.
posted by asok at 2:46 PM on January 25, 2016


Someone's digested a lot of samurai movies, and learned quite a lot from doing so. Tasty.
posted by Quasirandom at 2:47 PM on January 25, 2016


That was very exciting, although the shaky-cam was a little much in the closeups.

It's nice to see them do something, unlike when they were in Kanjiklub.
posted by timdiggerm at 2:49 PM on January 25, 2016 [4 favorites]


This is fun for a PG samurai thing, although I don't care if it is a test, the crocs really bug me.

That was very exciting, although the shaky-cam was a little much in the closeups.


Tell that to Kanjiklub.
posted by Atreides at 2:52 PM on January 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


It's nice to see them do something, unlike when they were in Kanjiklub.

What a waste that was. I have to assume something ended up on the cutting room floor.
posted by brundlefly at 3:16 PM on January 25, 2016 [3 favorites]


I liked the Raid movies but I actually thought that this was really poorly done. The editing was not fluid, the choreography gave itself away repeatedly, and the axis was completely non-existent. It was a mess, really.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 3:39 PM on January 25, 2016 [3 favorites]


I'm almost at a point where I'd pay an extra service fee for action movies if it meant I could see them without shaky-cam.
posted by scaryblackdeath at 3:43 PM on January 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


You Should See: I was thinking the same thing, and wondering what the purpose of a pre-vis fight scene is. I mean, what exactly is Edwards pre-visualizing? Is he just blocking and doing shot composition? If so, then why bother with all the fancy moves?
posted by jpolchlopek at 3:47 PM on January 25, 2016 [1 favorite]




You Should See the Other Guy: The editing was not fluid, the choreography gave itself away repeatedly, and the axis was completely non-existent.

I felt the same way, but I'm not sure how much to chalk up to it being pre-vis. I thought the actual fight choreography was excellent, but everything surrounding the fight landed with a dull thud.

When there was action on the screen, it was good. When the action stopped, it fell flat. The general sense I got was of aping Kurosawa without really getting Kurosawa. He's trying to do that stillness-broken-by-sudden-action thing so exemplified by The Thing That Goes Doink, except nothing is ever actually still. Either the camera is moving or the actors are, and none of it seems like purposeful movement.

But, hey, if nothing else it makes me appreciate Toshiro Mifune's ability to sell a shot where he's not actually doing anything all the more.
posted by tobascodagama at 5:30 PM on January 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


And here I thought this was going to be an Australia Day post.
posted by kithrater at 5:34 PM on January 25, 2016


You Should See the Other Guy: The editing was not fluid, the choreography gave itself away repeatedly, and the axis was completely non-existent.

I felt the same way, but I'm not sure how much to chalk up to it being pre-vis. I thought the actual fight choreography was excellent, but everything surrounding the fight landed with a dull thud.


Hey guys, they banged this thing out in a week. A buddy of mine had to go hang out in ABQ for 4 weeks to figure out and perform the Book of Eli bar fight scene, and that thing is way less clear then this thing by Garth.

Also, the actual fighting part is only like 20 seconds long.
posted by sideshow at 5:44 PM on January 25, 2016


Hey guys, they banged this thing out in a week.

I don't think that's really relevant when they're breaking Film Composition / Editing 101 rules.

The first character is watching the woman run towards him and the next time he's shown he's behind her. The shots set up that this woman is between these two men yet all of a sudden she's ahead of both of them and then she's between them again.

She's running left to right, as is long haired guy (presumably pursuing her), as is short-haired guy (also somehow pursuing her) and then she's running right to left away from short-haired guy even though she was never shown changing direction and all of a sudden she runs into long-haired guy.

This is just bad filmmaking and it doesn't matter how long you had to make it.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 6:11 PM on January 25, 2016 [5 favorites]


Shit, I just finally understood the 180 Degree Rule from Intro to Cinema.
posted by jpolchlopek at 6:14 PM on January 25, 2016 [4 favorites]


If this is just quick test footage I can imagine them revisiting the scene in actual production using the wider variety of shots afforded by real equipment and crew. Particularly in terms of cutting down on the shakycam stuff. This is also why the BW contrast is sort of shitty: it was shot on a dSLR.

For what it is, not bad!
posted by selfnoise at 6:24 PM on January 25, 2016


Banged out in 3 days, in fact. Evans' films have generally been pretty good on framing/respecting the axis of action, so I'm inclined to agree that the speed of production/possible lack of storyboard are why it's as jumbled as it is. I just like seeing the Big Bosses from both Raid films together in the same fight scene, and to not have anyone get their throat graphically slit. I approve.
posted by Peevish at 6:45 PM on January 25, 2016


Damn, setting aside the simply tense-as-hell (and motivated!) fight choreography, I thought the hand-held composition was the most brilliant thing on display here, especially when she's fighting both of them at once, and the camera always quickly shifts from one to the other in creative ways so as to train us to fear the one she/we can't see at that moment (and even though our view isn't the same as hers, obviously, it effectively is.)

Well done!
posted by Navelgazer at 7:09 PM on January 25, 2016 [2 favorites]


I don't think that's really relevant when they're breaking Film Composition / Editing 101 rules.

Those are guidelines, not rules, and they're made to be broken. For effect. That opening chase bit is, I believe, intended to be chaotic and the editing works for me. The protagonist doesn't know where her foes will be coming from and neither do we. YMMV, obviously.

As far as the shakey cam? I have never been a fan of it, to the point where I find Greengrass' Bourne sequels nearly unwatchable. Those action scenes tend to be incomprehensible to me. But Evans makes it work. This fight is frenetic to be sure, but I never had any issues following it.
posted by brundlefly at 8:50 PM on January 25, 2016


Who is that woman? She looks like she could be Iko Uwais's sister.
posted by gottabefunky at 8:52 PM on January 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


I was thinking the same thing, and wondering what the purpose of a pre-vis fight scene is. I mean, what exactly is Edwards pre-visualizing? Is he just blocking and doing shot composition? If so, then why bother with all the fancy moves?

I've never shot a martial arts scene, but I would guess the fight choreography and the cinematography would be nearly inseparable.

As far as his reasons for shooting this, he posted the following to Twitter:
While here, we made the following little short sequence; partly to test out some choreography ideas I had, partly to see if we could create something non-violent my kiddo could see, but mainly cos I really needed to fucking shoot something after 2yrs without picking up a camera.
"Non-violent." For him, I suppose! Anyway, I don't want to thread-sit or anything so I'll step out. I hope y'all enjoy it.
posted by brundlefly at 8:56 PM on January 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


To elaborate on my above comment, compare this with the House of Blue Leaves sequence in Kill Bill vol. 1. In that, The desired effect is largely stylistic, to show off the choreography and how much of a badass The Bride is. Though she's being attacked by many people at once, the feeling is that she has "total situational awareness," as Archer might call it. At least until Go-Go Yubari shows up, and The Bride suddenly has to deal with a real challenge, and the composition and editing drastically shift.

Prior to that point, we're permitted a lot of wide shots, top-down-shots, close-ups of just The Bride's face, etc.

Here, we're treated to a more "realistic" fight scene, emphasized by editing and composition constantly switching attention between her two attackers before the other one attempts to take advantage of that.
posted by Navelgazer at 9:25 PM on January 25, 2016


Also, those are two effortlessly evil-looking dudes.
posted by gottabefunky at 9:37 PM on January 25, 2016


Speaking of Kill Bill, I just posted a film to Fanfare that influenced it heavily: Lady Snowblood.
posted by brundlefly at 9:49 PM on January 25, 2016 [1 favorite]


I ended up watching Raid 2 and Captain America: Winter Soldier within a 3 day period and it ended up making me angry because Raid 2 action was so absolutely entertaining and CA:WS was so absolutely "Cap punches guy, guy falls down scene."

I own both Raid movies on bluray and digitally and I lend out the physical copies to anyone who will take them. No one has been disappointed yet.

Months and months later I saw CA:WS again and it blew me away because it wasn't as entirely awful as I had remembered, in fact it was really good for what it was. The action is well directed even. It's just not exciting.

Gareth Evans needs to become the Yuen Woo Ping of Hollywood. If your movie has skilled hand-to-hand fighters going at it bring this guy (or his team) in.
posted by M Edward at 10:54 PM on January 25, 2016


I think the main focus was the "PG-13 fight scene" limitations.
It's not like Evans forgot how to shoot since finishing his last film.

To this end I think it was quite successful.
posted by fullerine at 1:00 AM on January 26, 2016


I thought Raid 2 was rather disappointing and proved that some directors do better with lower budgets (cf. Kurt Wimmer and Equilibrium/Ultraviolet). In the claustrophobic setting of the first movie, the lack of plot, and acting chops (and blood, strangely enough) simply wasn't as noticeable. So let's see where this is going...
posted by pseudocode at 5:22 AM on January 26, 2016 [1 favorite]


I realize that my taste is pretty old-fashioned but I always feel like fight scenes should be shot with as few cuts as possible and mostly in medium and long shots so that you can see where everyone is. This goes for dance number too. The problem with this technique is that the actors actually have to know how to do the moves and the choreography has to be rehearsed to death. Plus unless you're doing some CGI face replacement, the actors you see fighting or dancing have to actually be the actors doing the fighting or dancing.
posted by octothorpe at 10:30 AM on January 26, 2016


Honestly, the chase scene worked integrally well for me. There were jump cuts, which indicated change in time and position, so the editing looked fine. If a fertile was broken, it couldn't have Bergen a very important one.

Interesting that the assassin's inherited the rule of Conservation of Ninjitsu- or maybe that guy was just that desperate.

Anyway, it was a nicely done action sequence- I'd like to see a story attached to it.
posted by happyroach at 1:40 PM on January 26, 2016


I realize that my taste is pretty old-fashioned but I always feel like fight scenes should be shot with as few cuts as possible and mostly in medium and long shots so that you can see where everyone is. This goes for dance number too.

Agreed. When League of Extraordinary Dancers hit the 'net years ago, I gave up on finishing the series because the editing was obscuring the dance moves, not enhancing them.
posted by Eikonaut at 1:45 PM on January 26, 2016


Those are guidelines, not rules, and they're made to be broken. For effect. That opening chase bit is, I believe, intended to be chaotic and the editing works for me. The protagonist doesn't know where her foes will be coming from and neither do we.

Huh? She does know where they are. She's running from them. At one point she stops and listens and then continues on.

Also, so do we know where they're coming from. We're shown them both in perspective to the pursued.

I think you're giving the filmmaker a shit-tonne of leeway.

Yes, rules are made to be broken. But you have to understand them first. Them's that assembled this clearly do not.
posted by You Should See the Other Guy at 7:03 AM on January 27, 2016 [1 favorite]


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