There’s something oddly charming about small-scale, off-the-cuff projects from major filmmakers. Joss Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing didn’t radically reimagine the Bard’s original text, but the context of production lent the film an immediately likable vibe. As legend goes, Whedon was having some of his closest chums/collaborators over for cocktails at his Los Angeles mansion when they decided it would be boozy fun to rattle off a little Shakespeare. They had such a good time, Whedon figured it could be cool to shoot it all and keep costs low by staging it around his house. The resulting product is a breezy but minor project with a healthy sense of spontaneity that shows off the filmmaker’s resourcefulness with a budget of practically zero.

Similar circumstances conspired to bring us “Pre Vis Action,” a new short from director Gareth Evans that surfaced yesterday. It’s been two years since his last film, the non-stop action showcase The Raid 2, flying-kicked into theaters and by the man’s own admission, two years since he last picked up a camera. So he invited his former stars Hannah Al Rashid, Yayan Ruhian, and Cecep Arif Rahman to visit him in Wales this past summer. Whereas an invitation to summer in Europe might mean delicious wine and dying a slow death of boredom during tours of old ruins, Evans had something else in mind. He threw together a five-minute samurai short as a way of testing out some new techniques he had been considering for whatever his next film might be. He explained all in a post on Twitter, embedded blow:

Frankly, it’s extremely impressive how much Evans is able to accomplish with so little. Relying entirely on natural light (eat your heart out, Iñárritu!) and mostly making use of handheld camerawork, Evans works within an aesthetic that feels eons removed from “amateurish.” The fight choreography is as elaborate as a ballet, and his frenzied shooting style complements their intensity perfectly. And for those readers who have not yet tracked down his Raid films, take notice: this is what the man does in his spare time, with no money. Imagine what it’s like when he’s really trying.

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