Joe Carnahan and Frank Grillo Discuss The Raid Remake

For those who haven’t seen The Raid: Redemption and Raid 2, I would highly recommend it.  If subtitled don’t bother you, the Raid films have some of the best choreographed action in recent memory.  However like many foreign movies that received critical acclaim, an American remake is in the works.  How will this remake differ from the original?

Collider sat down with director Joe Carnahan (The Grey, Smokin’ Aces) and actor Frank Grillo (Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The Purge: Election Year) to discuss the remake.  They spoke about how the movie won’t be a direct remake, the shift from an all out martial arts film (Silat) to look at the wear and tear the job has on the body (the “walking wounded”), getting the blessings of the original film’s director and star, and more.  Continue reading below for the full interview.

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JOE CARNAHAN: What Frank and I both cotton to is this idea of special operators. Special forces operation guys often times like football players. They’re never 100%. Soft tissue damage in their hands, radial fractures, knees are shot, this and that. So this idea you’re catching a guy who is compelled to go after his brother after he just got his ass kicked in a completely different operation. You’re getting a guy who’s like the walking wounded. So you’re immediately plugging in to this very mortal, very human, everybody’s been hurt, everybody’s tweaked their back; in fact, more people have an affinity and an understanding of that situation than being this completely physically fit monster that doesn’t feel pain

CARNAHAN: There’s a level of brutality, a level of violence. If our movie felt like the knife fight between Adam Goldberg and the German in Saving Private Ryan the entirety of the movie, then we’ve done exactly what we need to do. Something that grueling and tough.

FRANK GRILLO: You want to look away but you can’t.

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They continue on to address comments made about the need to remake a recently made film, particularly the negative criticism about the need to made a “Hollywood” or whitewashed version of a quality foreign movie.

GRILLO: Many Americans, most Americans, have never seen The Raid before.

CARNAHAN: By the way, Smokin’ Aces is about an assault on a penthouse with a bunch of crazy people fighting their way up to the top.  That was six years before The Raid was made.  So it’s not like these are things that don’t interest me. I can show you a pattern. I dig that kind of an idea.

GRILLO: And I’ll tell you something that bothers me.  When people say you’re doing to do “The Hollywood Version” of The Raid

CARNAHAN: Or whitewash it.

GRILLO: First of all, we’re not the Hollywood version of anything. We come through the back door all the time. I’m not Tom Cruise. I’m not the Hollywood version.  I’m not knocking Tom Cruise, but he’s Tom Cruise. He gets to do whatever he wants. So my point is we don’t have to do this.  We can do anything we want to do. We want to do this because there’s something we see that we want to show to American audiences, and audiences globally. Many people have not seen The Raid.

CARNAHAN: Among cinephiles, it’s a beloved film. But people in Des Moines, Iowa have not seen The Raid.

Where will this film take place?

CARNAHAN: [It’s set in] Caracas. Because Caracas is a madhouse. It’s almost like a safehouse for bad guys, like they built this block in Caracas because this is where you come to do business and no one will fuck with you. Because it’s such a dangerous place, nobody wants to go in there. Again, it’s heightening elements of The Raid that were already there, I’m taking these story elements and kind of weaponizing them. Just giving them a shot of steroids, because again everything is about zagging—where The Raid zigged, we’ll zag.

CARNAHAN: It’s a very different relationship with the brothers, because their father is a very centrifugal figure in this thing. Without getting too deep into it it’s all about the idea that a man is able to create the version of himself that surpasses himself, but one of them sees him for what he really is which is not this world beater. It’s the opposite of—you know Liam Neeson has that line in The Grey of “My dad saw weakness everywhere,” it’s that guy, but he is weak. So the argument between these two brothers, the split between them, is about their dad. He built these things that are superior and that are real soldiers, but he’s not that. You bought that line, I didn’t buy that line. I went my way and you went your way.

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They also mention that The Raid’s director Gareth Evans and star Iko Uwais have been contacted before moving forward with the remake.  Grillo and Carnahan said not only did they give them their blessing, but Uwais might also appear in the movie.

GRILLO: We’ve had two-hour conversations with Gareth.  He says, “Go make your version. I want to see your version.”

CARNAHAN: This is Gareth, who made two brilliant films saying, “I’m most excited to see what you guys are going to do with it.” Which is the best.

GRILLO: And talking to Gareth first was very important to him and I.  Let’s talk to him.  Does he want this movie?

CARNAHAN: Because if he had shut it down…

GRILLO: We were done.

GRILLO: I did a movie with Iko. I’m friends with Iko. Iko may be in this movie. We don’t know… So Iko and I did a movie in Indonesia last year.  It’s a big kind of sci-fi movie, and I don’t know where it’s going to come out, when it’s going to come out, but Iko and I became best friends. We became brothers. And he’s my boy.  When he heard this, he reached out to immediately and said, “Is there a place for me in the movie?” This is the guy who originated the role, and was the star in both movies–it’s a film that everyone wants to be involved in, even the guy who is the guy.  So maybe.  Joe said maybe there’s a world where he’s one of the other guys.  Who knows.

I’m a big movie guy, a cinephile I suppose, and try to tack down the best foreign movies out their.  My gut feeling is that there isn’t a reason to produce a Hollywood remake of a recent great foreign movie simply to reuse a good idea or bank on the name brand.  I say this even though there are many examples of quality remakes like The Departed, Girl With The Dragon Tattoo and Let The Right One In.  I do like reading how they’re taking a lot of this into consideration and that they’re aiming for a different take on the material besides making a shot-for-shot re-telling (which is simply impossible to do with this type of movie in the Hollywood system).  I’m remaining cautiously optimistic that this will be a strong entry in The Raid’s franchise.

Here’s a teaser developed by Carnahan.

What are your thought on a Raid American remake?  Do you like the direction they’re taking this re-imaging of the original film? Share your opinion below.  i’ll keep you posted on any new information I hear about this project.

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