Sony Pictures Classics is releasing The Raid in the United States; the Indonesian apartment block assault film was one of the best things I saw at Sundance this year (it's playing again at SXSW, for all you Austinites) and it's coming to theaters on March 23rd. Once you've seen and loved the movie know that there's more yet to come - director Gareth Evans and star Iko Uwais are teaming up for a sequel called Berandal.
Now here's where I get confused. Berandal was the movie that Evans and Uwais were making after Merantau, their previous collaboration. That movie was synopsized by Twitch back in 2010 thusly:
Rama, a young man in his mid-20s sits on a toilet looking down at his feet contemplating just how he got here, just how he ended up wearing that prison uniform and just how his name ended up just a string of numbers printed onto his pocket. Once a food stall seller, an act of defense cost him his freedom, his liberty and the love of his fiancé Dwi.
Detained for 5 years after leaving her attacker paralysed in a fit of rage, Rama arrives in a maximum-security prison alone and not accustomed to the criminal world. Instantly a target for the gangs that fight against each other for supremacy and control he is taken in by Uco, the son of a leading gangster, Bangun.
Initially at war with each other, their friendship is sealed after an attempt on Uco's life by his own men during a prison riot sees Rama step in and save him from certain death. Vowing to be there for him when he is finally released, five years later, after serving his time, the gates open and Rama steps out into a new life taken in by Uco's underworld organisation.
Igniting Uco's ambition Bejo, a small-time hood leader with plans of up scaling his operations seizes the opportunity to convince this headstrong son that now is the time for him to assume control of his father's organization. Controlling him like a puppet in a downward spiral of murder, betrayal and corruption Rama's friendship to Uco is tested to breaking point as their paths begin to drift.
Losing sight of loyalty, friendship even blood ties Uco is consumed by his increasing power as he creates a gang war taking out his Father's most trusted men and pinning the blame on their rivals. A choice must be made between the power on the throne, or its reckless inheritor. Every move Rama makes will test his loyalty, every decision will change his path leading him further into the violence and bloodshed he is so desperate, yet so powerless to escape.
A couple of notes: Rama is the name of the character Uwais plays in The Raid, but that backstory is NOT the character's history. It COULD be the history of one of the bad guys, though. Very easily. So is the new Berandal a prequel to The Raid, telling an origin story for one of the villains? Since The Raid ends with a very good springboard for a sequel (while being a whole film), I doubt that.
Actually, wait! While writing this (and I'm too lazy to go back rewrite it) I found Evans' blog where he has this to say about Berandal:
While developing THE RAID in script form I started to toy around with the idea of creating a link between it and BERANDAL. And now I can announce that BERANDAL will actually serve as a sequel to THE RAID providing a continuation for Iko Uwais' character Rama. While some would see this news as a spoiler (i.e. his character doesn't die) I feel that if I killed off his character again so soon after MERANTAU I'd be one almighty fucking hack bereft of ways to finish a film.
So there you go, spoiler.... Iko survives and lives to fight another day.
In BERANDAL we plan to explore the criminal world and introduce more side characters while creating a franchise for IKO UWAIS, but not one in which his character stays the same throughout. Our plan is to show a growth in each film as experiences begin to shape and mutate his personality for better and for worse.
So what elements will the new Berandal take from the old script? I'm interesting in finding out - and since Sony Pictures Classics bought it, I'll have a chance to find out right here in America. I hope you've enjoyed coming on this journey of discovery with me as I Googled information while writing!