Wira is like a Hollywood production, Indonesian action star Yayan Ruhian says

  • Movies
  • Thursday, 05 Dec 2019

Yayan Ruhian (left) and Hairul Azreen trading blows in 'Wira'.

When Wira was in the middle of principal photography, the Hollywood blockbuster John Wick Chapter 3: Parabellum hit cinemas worldwide.

The Keanu Reeves’ actioner features Indonesian martial arts actor Yayan Ruhian in one of its major fight scenes. And Yayan just happened to be in Malaysia working on Wira as its action choreographer when John Wick 3 was released back in May.

Wira main actor Hairul Azreen remembers: “Both Yayan and I had a break during filming one day, so we went to watch John Wick Chapter 3 in the cinema together. It was an unforgettable experience to be watching this Hollywood film with him, and an honour to have worked with him in Wira.”

The 51-year-old Javanese – who carved a name in the action genre after the Indonesian flicks The Raid (2011) and The Raid 2 (2014) – has been cast not only in Hollywood (John Wick Chapter 3 and Star Wars: The Force Awakens) but also in Japan for Takashi Miike’s Yakuza Apocalypse: The Great War Of The Underworld, besides a number of Indonesian movies.

With such an impressive resume, one would’ve thought it would be impossible to get Yayan to participate in a Malaysian film.

However, according to Wira director Adrian Teh, when he called up Yayan about the job, the latter agreed to come onboard and at an affordable salary.

Teh recalls: “We wanted to get someone great and able to bring world-class action to Wira. A few names were suggested and one of them was Yayan.”

The Paskal The Movie director adds: “I am glad to have gotten him. He’s humble, efficient, talented and he’s willing to listen to my opinion... If I asked him to change a fight choreography, he just does it.

“And if I wanted to shoot a fight sequence one more time, he gets it done.”

At the premiere of Wira, Yayan shares a tip to creating fight scenes: “It is not only important for an actor to memorise the action moves but also on how to execute the fights with the right emotions.

“It’s not that different from having a dialogue in the film; an actor has to do more than just remember the lines for a scene, he has to bring the right emotions.”

At first, Yayan was hired only as Wira’s fight choreographer. He came to Kuala Lumpur in January to work on the choreography and to train the actors for three months prior to the shoot.

Later, when Teh asked him to be part of the film, Yayan didn’t ponder too much and agreed since he had already trained with the actors from the start, and knew all the moves.

In Wira, Yayan plays a bodyguard to the film’s main villain (Dain Said). Yayan may have fewer than five lines in the film, but his menacing presence and the level of threat he poses to the film’s hero (Hairul) are pretty obvious each time his character appears in a scene.

Director Adrian Teh (centre) flanked by actors Hairul Azreen and Yayan Ruhian at the 'Wira' premiere. Director Adrian Teh (centre) flanked by actors Hairul Azreen and Yayan Ruhian at the 'Wira' premiere.

While Teh and Hairul are counting on Yayan’s presence to elevate the standard of local action film, the Indonesian is equally impressed with the work ethic showcased by everyone involved in Wira.

Yayan says: “In any production, there will be challenges. But we can overcome these hurdles if we work together. A film is formed properly when there is cooperation and singular focus in giving only our best.

“I am proud to be part of the Wira team. To be honest, and I’d tell this to anyone who asks, shooting the film Wira was not unlike shooting a Hollywood production.

“Everyone working on this film was professional in every aspect, and hardworking. And that is an extraordinary feeling for me.

“I was accepted by everyone here in Malaysia, that team Wira are not only my friends, but part of my family now.”

Wira, now showing at GSC cinemas nationwide, has gotten positive feedback from Malaysian viewers.

The film earned RM5.2mil after 11 days of screening.

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