The Raid's Brutal Action Scenes Were As Dangerous As They Look

Welsh director Gareth Evans astounded audiences back in 2011 with "The Raid" – a no-holds-barred action thriller that took the world by storm, one floor at a time. Featuring stunningly brutal fights as well as some truly memorable set pieces, "The Raid" is hands down one of the best action movies of all time ... and it made Gareth Evans a household name.

At least, if your household watches a ton of grisly action flicks.

"The Raid" follows an elite 20-man squad of the Indonesian National Police as they fight their way through a hostile apartment block in one of Jakarta's most deprived slums. It's under the control of a gang of drug dealers and criminals, and it's considered off-limits by even the most hardened police officers. The goal? Take down the notorious and ruthless drug lord, Tama Riyadi (Ray Sahetapy). But when things go awry, it's up to rookie cop Rama (Iko Uwais) to save the day ... even as corruption and gang violence literally erupt around him. It's certainly no regular day on the beat.

Rama and the gang are forced to fight their way to the penthouse — a video game premise you might find in some of gaming's best side-scrolling beat 'em ups. "The Raid" is packed full of hardcore action and martial arts mayhem.

It was no walk in the park for the film's actors, either.

"Every f***ing thing was horrible," said Evans in an interview with GQ. "It was a tough shoot."

He's not kidding. A film with this much raw, unfiltered action takes a lot of hard work from both actors and stunt teams. Unfortunately, it looks as though both were put through the wringer.

"A month before shooting started, Iko was auditioning one of the fighters and he twisted his knee and was out for two weeks. Then, two weeks before the shoot, he got chickenpox. It kept getting worse and worse."

Here's what happened on set:

Iko Uwais got hurt... a lot

"The Raid" star Iko Uwais is a student of Silat, an Indonesian martial art. His fighting prowess is what won over Evans in the first place when he cast him in the leading role in "Merantau" – his directorial debut back in 2009.

However, his martial arts skills also made him perfect for "The Raid."

As well as starring in the film's leading role, Uwais was also involved in auditioning cast members and stunt fighters. As we know, it was during this period that he twisted his knee. Unfortunately, that wasn't the only injury he sustained on set.

The first week of shooting involved a rather brutal hallway fight scene, which sees Rama take on one, then two, then a dozen armed thugs. The catch? Rama only has a knife and a baton. It's one of the film's most visually impressive action scenes ... but it took its toll on the film's star.

"At the end of the first day, Iko twisted his knee again," revealed Evans.

This time, Uwais was benched for a whole week and was forced to work around his injury when he returned to the set. Acting through his injury must have required an incredible amount of focus, and Evans recalls that he used music to push himself through.

"I asked him what he listened to, to get in the mood for the action scenes," recalled Evans. "He told me he really likes to listen to Toni Braxton's 'Unbreak My Heart.'"

Not exactly a heart-pumping gym mix, there. Still, he managed to bring an incredible performance and the completed scene is now a stone-cold classic, with Rama knee-deep in bodies by the time he clambers his way out of that hallway.

But there's a reason those fight scenes looked so good ...

Some of the fights were real

"The Raid" is a brutal and bloody action film like no other. Choreographed by its star Iko Uwais and his Silat teacher Yayan Ruhian, the film's fight scenes have a distinct authenticity.

Every punch, every kick is visceral and heavy.

And that's because a lot of them were the real deal. "It's all about trust, really," Evans says. "There's a guy that Iko throws over a balcony and they have a small fight in the corridor first. We were shooting at 2 a.m., everyone was tired, and I needed one last burst of energy. They talked it over and they just said, 'Let's go for it.'"

That's right — the film's star partnered up with his trusted sparring partner and they began laying into each other rather than pulling their punches. The result is a fight scene that looks and feels like the real thing. Because it is.

"Iko was just throwing knees into his body and elbows into his back and those are real knees and real elbows and they're full speed and full power. They're just beating the crap out of each other because they've worked on a previous film together and they know their limits. It's one of those moments when you're watching it happen, and you're hearing the thuds of every hit landing and you think, 'At least the footage is good.'"

But while Uwais and his pal were ready to throw down, not everyone was quite so ready.

A stuntman took a beating ... and kept on going

It's no secret that an action film like "The Raid" requires a lot of choreography — and a lot of stuntmen. But what happens when one of them takes a beating?

"We had this one moment when a character is crawling across the floor and he pulls his knife out and this stuntman grabs him and he stabs the stuntman in the chest five times," explained Evans.

The scene was prepped. The stuntman knew his cues.

Unfortunately, it only takes one small slip up to make a dangerous situation life-threatening, and without his protective gear, this stuntman was in for a rough time.

"Obviously we used a retractable blade knife, but the stuntman getting stabbed had padding on his chest, and the padding had rolled down, and the actor was so hepped up and emotional that he stabbed him hard enough to crack his ribcage."

You can find the exact scene above, with a knife plunged full force into his chest several times.

"We were all so focused on the actor and I look across and see this stunt guy on the floor clutching his chest, he could barely breathe. He was in a bad way. He had all these bruises and cut marks on his chest. It was really horrible. But then he had a cup of tea and he was okay."

It's unclear whether this scene was eventually reshot. But if the stuntman carried on after taking a savage beating from one of the film's stars, that's a level of professionalism most can only aspire to.

Still, it's nothing compared to one stunt that went spectacularly wrong.

A wire stunt went sideways

At one point, rookie cop Rama hurls a thug over a balcony, only for the man to shatter his lower back after landing on a balcony wall on the opposite side of the apartment block's atrium. It's an altogether brutal and frankly horrible scene.

And when it came to filming it, it all went completely wrong.

The stuntman was on wires with crash mats laid out to cushion his landing, but the stuntmen pulling the wire and controlling his fall went too hard.

"Instead of coming down at an angle, he just went straight across to the other side horizontally and smashed his head into a wall on the second floor," said Evans. "They lost their balance and let go of the wire and he bounced away from the crash mats and fell five meters onto concrete."

It sounds absolutely horrific and left Evans assuming the worst.

"We figured he must be dead. The medical team rushed over and ten minutes later he was up saying he wanted to do the next shot. It's the most horrible stunt I've ever seen go wrong."

Thankfully, the stuntman was fine, but I'm not sure a cup of tea and a nice sit down would be enough to get him back on his feet this time. Still, the resulting scene is a vicious, utterly brutal glimpse at the ferocity of Rama's zeal.

And it's one of the most shocking fight scenes in this devastating action flick.