Iko Uwais and Julie 'Hammer Girl' Estelle on how they survived 'The Raid 2'
PARK CITY - One of the craziest moments in the Keanu Reeves film "Man Of Tai Chi" comes near the conclusion when Tiger Hu Chen finally has to face his competition in the finals of the weird underground martial arts tournament he's been working his way through, and it turns out to be Iko Uwais from "The Raid" and "The Raid 2." When they enter the ring, I readied myself for the fight of all fights, and there's something perverse about the way Reeves has Tiger Hu Chen simply refuse the fight. That would be like having your hero battle his way into a room where Bruce Lee was, then having Bruce Lee shake his hand and walk away.
Iko Uwais does not look like an action icon at first glance. He's slight, with a boyish face, and he doesn't seem particularly imposing in terms of how he's built. The moment you see him explode into action, though, it's apparent that he's a natural, both graceful and powerful. He's also becoming a better actor from film to film. In "Merantau," he seems comfortable in the fight scenes but not nearly as comfortable with dialogue. By now, though, he's gotten very good, and there are several scenes in "The Raid 2" that are emotionally powerful and very simple, with no fighting at all involved.
Julie Estelle is going to make quite an impression on action fans in her role as Hammer Girl, one part of a deadly pair of assassins who work for a rising crime lord named Bejo in the movie. There's very little time spent setting up the backstory for Hammer Girl and her brother Baseball Bat Man, but the work she does suggests volumes about how she became a terrifying lethal weapon.
In person, she's delicate, but she seems ready to make the jump to English-language films immediately, and considering how convincing she is in "The Raid 2" and how well she helps establish a complicated character without a ton of dialogue, I hope this is the beginning of big things for her.
Together, Uwais and Estelle make a charming pair of representatives for the bone-pulverizing mayhem of "The Raid 2," and I think this is a great conversation.
"The Raid 2" arrives in theaters March 28, 2014.