Joe Carnahan’s The Raid Isn’t a Remake After All

Exclusive: Joe Carnahan and Frank Grillo are remaking the Indonesian action classic, The Raid. Or are they?

Fresh off this past weekend’s release of Boss Level, and with his next film Copshop already in post-production, writer/director Joe Carnahan now hopes to turn his attention to his next project: a long-developing remake of the 2011 Indonesian action/crime thriller, The Raid (known in the U.S. as The Raid: Redemption).

Or maybe not. Asked about the project, which was first announced with a different director in 2014 before Carnahan came aboard three years later, Carnahan says that the English-language version of the stunning original has drifted away from being a true remake.

“It’s our version of The Raid,” says Carnahan about the film, which will be produced for Screen Gems through his and actor Frank Grillo’s Warparty production banner. “I wrote that in a very modular way, so we had a disagreement with the existing property holders. We could kind of segue out, and we’d have our own version of that.”

Carnahan continues, “Listen, I did a movie about people assaulting a penthouse and going after a guy six years before The Raid. Smokin’ Aces was also in that vein. So it’s not like I’m re-lifting materials from that movie. But our script is very, very different. It’s not so heavily fight-based. There’s a ton of fights in there, but that’s not the linchpin of the movie.”

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The original The Raid was directed by Welsh filmmaker Gareth Evans (Netflix’s Apostle) and starred Indonesian actor and martial artist Iko Uwais as Rama, a rookie cop who joins a dangerous mission to infiltrate a high-rise apartment tower controlled by a powerful drug lord. The grueling journey up to the top floor–where the crime boss Tama is situated–is marked by pitched, intensely violent, and gruesome battles between the cops and Tama’s minions. Along the way there are also betrayals, secret agendas revealed, and more.

The original, a jaw-dropping ballet of incredibly staged fighting and bloodshed, introduced the world to pencak silat, a full-body style of Indonesian martial arts that is as relentless psychologically as it is physically. The Raid earned rave reviews from critics around the world and was a success in limited release, leading Evans and Uwais to return for a sequel, The Raid 2, in 2014.

Carnahan is right about the “assault on a large building to get one person” narrative: his own Smokin’ Aces featured a bevy of FBI agents and assassins invading a Lake Tahoe hotel to nab a would-be crime boss, while 2012’s Dredd–released shortly after The Raid–featured the title character assaulting a 200-story apartment block to capture the drug lord Ma-Ma (Lena Headey) at all costs.

But The Raid arguably did it with a stylization and level of violence not quite matched by Western movies, and it should be interesting to see how Carnahan handles the material.

“I’m excited to go and put that thing together, and try to get that that film made,” he says, noting that the plan is for Grillo–who’s been attached since 2014–to star in it.

The director reaffirms that he doesn’t see it as a straight remake: “No, not at all… I think it’s a completely separate franchise, if you want my honest opinion.”

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In the meantime, if you want another high-octane dose of Carnahan and Grillo’s brand of hyper-intense, insanely violent action, Boss Level is now streaming on Hulu.