Gareth Evans

Something we like to celebrate here is home grown talent, we all believe this little island of ours is packed with great film makers – Alfred Hitchcock? Ridley Scott? Danny Boyle? Malcolm Le Grice? Ken Loach? Robert W. Paul? Charlie Chaplin? Mike Leigh? And these are just directors off the top of my head, we have talent in all areas of the industry and with a little thought you can list off until the cows come home, or some other saying that people use.

It seems though we will soon have a new addition to this list of ours, Gareth Evans.

Evans is Welsh born, got his MA in Scriptwriting for Film and Television at Glamorgan University in 2003 and is now based in Indonesia where he has launched his career writing and directing film.

Whilst at university, Evans got together with some Japanese students also studying in Cardiff and made his first film, a short called Samurai Monogatari (2003). The tale of a samurai waiting for his death by means of execution is foreign language and a good effort for his first attempt behind the camera. Taking influence from Japanese greats such as Kitano and the two Kurosawas, Evans ability in the pacing of film already shows. In 21 minutes he does nothing but impress in the way he has made Wales look a perfect reflection of the Japan in Zatoichi released in the same year, with the cinematography and lighting he learned from an interview with Kazuo Miyagawa – cinematographer for Rashomon (1950) – and all in all his ability to make a great short film with his first pop at it.

Three years on and Evans pens, directs and edits his first feature, Footsteps (2006). Again he nods toward the best of Japanese film, taking influence from Toyoda and Miike. A film about Western societal breakdown and urban dystopia, Evans again uses a fragmented approach to editing and narrative to flash both backward and forward offering the audience reflection and premonition simultaneously. Our protagonist Andrew has become violent, filled with rage and brutality, as he follows this path he is discovered and recruited by some film makers who set up criminal acts from beatings to murders. It’s already clear that Evans has a taste for an in your face style, a style that thankfully doesn’t leave him.

From this work he was hired as a freelance director and headed to Indonesia to make a documentary about the native martial art there, Pencak Silat. During the shooting, Iko Uwais was discovered, a student of the form and full time courier that the camera could not keep it’s eye off. From this another director / actor duo was born that has already lasted three films.

Merantau (2009), again penned, directed and edited by Evans, was the first martial arts film made in Indonesia for 15 years. So a guy from Wales comes along and smashed it out the park. Now this isn’t perfect in terms of story, but you’ll find none of the work by Evans is, that’s not what he is about. Action! Action is what this guy is about. Where all modern action sequences will teach you to cut the edit and throw the camera around ad nauseum, Evans instead treats his scenes to a more natural flow, allowing Uwais to really show off his ability in Silat.

Gareth Evans next venture was The Raid (2011). Quite simply brilliant.

So where next? Again he has teamed up with Uwais and is set to release Berandal in 2013. It is early days yet and all I know about this film is whispers and rumours, nothing official or worth mentioning yet. But when the information starts flowing you better believe we’ll be all over this.

He has quite a way to go yet, but keep your eye on this one.

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