It would be an understatement to call 2020 a challenging year, what with politics, catastrophic disasters, and a global pandemic all being major factors in how the rest of us who’ve managed to stay alive through all have remained so.
To each end, you might even suggest these as suitable a backdrop for a creative offshoot. Filmmaker Ranjeet Marwa’s inspiration kept steadfast during 2020, with efforts to crowdfund one film prior to announcing several others, and ultimately leading the charge with his latest production, Exiled: The Chosen Ones.
The film signals Marwa’s premiere stake in martial arts action cinema with Southeast Asian allure, hailing direct from the UK as the first of its kind, with Marwa taking inspiration from the likes of Gareth Evans, and Indonesia’s own Timo Tjahjanto.
“What we have in store for the audience is very unique in terms of both actors and location. Nothing of this calibre has come out of the UK” says Marwa, barring the aforementioned Evans’ involvement as one of the creative minds behind hit series, Gangs Of London.
The story in Exiled: The Chosen Ones follows the aftermath of a virus unleashed by a corporate cabal in an effort to institute forced population control. When the virus fails, the dark and seedy global elite congregate to legitimize a sadistic, violent game show where society’s worst of the worst would fight to the death within the dilapidated corridors and rooms of a concrete kill zone, as the rich place their bets to see who comes out on top.
“The lower the number of the player, the older they are to the game. The higher the number, the newer they are.” says Marwa, hinting at the numbers on our characters’ prison uniforms in the newest pair of stills presented on Thursday, featuring Singaporean actor and action star Sunny Pang and London-born Indonesian actress Hannah Al-Rashid.
Pang stars in the role of Hiro, opens up the film waking up in a solitary room for the first time not knowing exactly where he is or why. For Hiro, being the cold and calculating Yakuza hitmam he is, you can imagine it becomes easy to figure out just what he’s landed into, while eventually crossing paths with a mysterious woman named Amber, played by Al-Rashid.
“Hiro and Amber meet at desperate times during the game, and a sort of friendship brews between them, but theystill both having their guards up with one another.” says Marwa. “The relationship between them is one of opposite ends of the spectrum. One fights for survival whilst one fights for personal reasons, and the dynamic between them is a very complicated one, but one that I believe the audience will relate to with both of their circumastances.”
Part of the groundwork here is, of course, the casting, and for Marwa, the addition of Pang and Al-Rashid were cinch decisions. The two previously worked together on Mike Wiluan’s western, Buffalo Boys, and principally on Tjahjanto’s celebrated crime epic, The Night Comes For Us.
Marwa, who credits both actors for their insight on Evans’ work and influence, has also been in touch with Tjahjanto since earlier in 2020 as the Birmingham-born director had been in active development for action thriller, Blood Rush, then circling a cast that currently has Pang in tow along with a nominal a row of talents, including Yayan Ruhian and Cecep Arif Rahman to name a few. Evans and Tjahjanto also worked on “Safe Haven” for anthology horror project, V/H/S 2.
“I learned a lot from both actors who know Gareth personally. They described how working with him was and how his influence has spread far and wide.” says Marwa. “It’s influenced my career a lot too, and especially with Timo who’s primarily been a mentor to me. He and Sunny have taken me under their wings and shown me ways of how I can elevate action and propel the story forward.”
Marwa is also working on a new horror project which we’ll learn more about in the coming months. That production will certainly come before Blood Rush, which suffered unfortunate delays after heavy pushing by Marwa at the top of the year, but no less puts Marwa on a prospective playing field with Pang and Tjahjanto in his corner following his visit to Jakarta back in March.
“I had the pleasure of sitting with both Timo and Sunny who both told me that I am standing on the shoulders of giants, those that have come before me and that I would be alligning myselves with them,” adds Marwa, “…something that I felt I had to prove to the action world and Asian cinema in general.
Exiled: The Chosen Ones is currently in post-production with plans to release in 2021. The film also stars Nisaro Karim and Oka Antara with action sequences by co-star Nick Khan, and is a Rocket Sky High Motion Pictures Ltd. and Silent D Pictures production.