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5 Reasons to love Iko Uwais

20 Aug 2012
Meet your new favourite action star!
HYPERBOLE WARNING!The Raid. If you even so much as OCCASSIONALLY frequent our humble site or peruse our magazine, you’ll know we soddin’ well love it. Nor are we alone in our love. The very world has been set abuzz for this hyper-violent Indonesian action flick. Lauded as the finest action movie for years, decades, eons with regularity, Welsh director Gareth Evans is being hailed as a hero, a savoir for martial arts cinema. I’m not here to dispute any of these claims. I’d merely like to point out how he had a metric f*ckton of help from this extremely violent little man!
I’ve stood not five feet from Iko Uwais. An unassuming, diminutive 29 year old, I departed his presence assured he could beat me to a gory pulp. And probably would, was I a machete wielding extra! As The Raid’s frontman and premier pugilist, a month from now visions of Iko ramming gangster skull repeatedly against tiled walls will have burned themselves into your psyches forever. But until then, here are five reasons to get very VERY excited for this former Truck Driver...1. He paired himself with Gareth Evans Before production began on his debut feature, Merantau, Iko signed a five year contract with Gareth Evans and his production company. A risk, given the culture clash and Evans’ limited experience. Still, as career decisions go, this was sagely. Building a rapport with his director, Iko has creative input throughout production and between them they’ve crafted two of the most impressive martial arts films this side of the millennium. And, if we’re being honest (and why wouldn’t we be?!) the other side too.
Many films have themes. One of The Raid's is 'Machete!'
Many films have themes. One of The Raid's is 'Machete!'
While other action stars may bounce from production to production, director to director, for the time being Evan and Uwais are inseparable. Where you find one, you’ll find the other. And with The Raid still picking up steam (not to mention accolades) don’t expect them to part any time soon...2. He co-choreographed some of the finest battles ever committed to celluloid Alongside pint-sized Mad-Dog Yayan Ruhian, these veteran Silat practitioners have orchestrated symphonies of destruction. From Merantau’s claustrophobic elevator melee to The Raid’s infamous machete bouts, Iko and Yayan have a keen sense for the ebb of battle. One scarcely found in the west.
This is Mad Dog. He is very small. And would eat you.
This is Mad Dog. He is very small. And would eat you.
With Evans behind the camera, concentrating on the big picture and Yayan handling the intricacies of wrist locks, shin kicks and neck breaks, Iko enjoys a freedom most action stars lack. The reason his onscreen scraps are so convincing is down to his input. If he’s not happy elbowing an extra in the back of his kneecap, as fight choreographer he can tweak it to something a little more comfortable. Like a kneeing the poor blighter in the nethers!3. His career is only starting Iko Uwais is 29 years old. He has made two films. Both award-winning. Both officially crazy-go-nuts-exciting. It’s unlikely/impossible via our current understanding of physical laws that his every starring role mirror The Raid’s success. However if his stamina alone can match that of China’s current action megastar Donnie Yen, he’ll be making films for another 19 years. Another 29 years and he’ll have matched Jackie Chan himself in terms of longevity. Bear in mind, Iko needn’t ACTUALLY perform this herculanean ask to maintain my continued approval. My point is this isn’t a case of Wolf Puncher, becoming an action star in his later years. Iko is only now coming into his prime. The prospect that The Raid may be but a taste of what’s to come is exciting. Damn exciting.4. He is an A-C-T-O-R While Iko seemingly* lacks Jet Li’s blinding speed, Tony Jaa’s supposedly incomparable power or the aforementioned Mr Yen’s unmistakable coolness (Jesus, he’s very cool!) he has something powerhouses Jason Statham, Scott Adkins or even the legendary Bruce Lee himself sorely lack. * It is a moooovie remember Iko is vulnerable. You never stop fearing for his life. There are no small fights for Iko, each and every bout might well result in his demise. He is not even necessarily the best fighter in the film. He’s just trying his best not to get beaten to death. A noble goal. The first time he raises his fists in Merantau he get his head kicked in. And if this trailer for The Raid is too subtle, know death lurks about every corner. Normally wielding machetes...
Yes, it’s a physical technique pioneered by Jackie, but it’s also a peerless device for evoking concern, not just awe, from viewers. Iko boasts soulful features and a knack for employing them to illicit emotional responses. In short, he can act. In doing so the drama, the bits what ain’t fighting, improves and ultimately results in an infinitely more exciting endeavour. You like excitement, right? Iko Uwais is a very rare action star. Not only does he know how to throw a flurry of punches or spin his heel high above his own head. He also knows how to crack a smile, shed a tear and show a little fear when faced with a half dozen hoodlums with assault rifles. Because, in fairness, 19 years of Silat training or no, that’s a relatively intimidating sight.5. He can fairly move! What was that about punching? While Jaa’s flawless form, Yen’s perfect poise and Jackie’s frankly inhuman fusion of stunts, acrobatics and improvisation showcase a level of skill audiences KNOW they will never attain, Iko fights a little different. Don’t mistake me, he’s still fast, strong and precise. However there is a particular urgency to his technique, a certain deliberate effort to his strikes which rings a little different.
Fans look at Jet Li and just know they could never, EVER match him. However, Iko fights in an almost sympathetic manner, lulling audiences into the (extremely false) sense that maybe, just maybe, if we trained really hard and ate our vegetables, they could hold their own. We couldn’t. But even entertaining the notion makes for a fun change...
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