Back in 2018, news broke that Liam O’Donnell, writer and director of 2017’s “Beyond Skyline”, was moving ahead on his new project, the island-based post-apocalyptic martial arts film “The Last Savage”.
Liam would subsequently go on to helm the 2020 sequel “Skylines”, whilst “The Last Savage” hadn’t yet gotten rolling.
Fans of Liam’s work in the “Skyline” series can nonetheless have a peek behind the curtain to what “The Last Savage” has in store, with some new BTS artwork and story layout. We asked Liam a few questions and interspersed this news article exclusive with answers from the man himself!
Released on Twitter by Liam himself via Google Drive, he described it as something that he and everyone involved is “very much still trying to get this going!” As such, the complete look book is truncated down to the opening act, with the whole outline described by Liam as comprising 40 pages. Still, even in the shortened form it’s in, Liam’s tease of “The Last Savage” really looks like something else.
Liam’s official statement on “The Last Savage” from 2018 offers a glimpse at how it came to be and what audiences can expect from it as part of the screenplay’s win at the 2017 AFFAM Project Market:
“While filming “Beyond Skyline” in Indonesia, I was incredibly inspired by the fierce spirit of its people and the fight to preserve its unique wildlife and habitats.
My goal is to synthesize these influences into a riveting adventure with heart that explores the depths and endurance of the human spirit. It is my greatest hope that the character of Buas becomes an international action icon for years to come.”
The official synopsis of “The Last Savage” can also be read below:
“A cataclysmic flood leaves a boy stranded on a remote island where he’s raised by a family of tigers into Buas, a lethal savage. But Peyton, a high-tech hunter arrives and kills his adopted family before bringing the captured Buas to The Rig, an overpopulated steel island built atop of drowned skyscrapers.
There, Buas is forced to fight against surgically-enhanced gladiators in a deadly arena. Trained by Carver, a legendary warrior gone rogue, and Mel, a brash street racer, Buas must navigate the post-apocalyptic underworld to gain his freedom, get his revenge, and ultimately secure the future of mankind’s survival.”
So Liam, what’s been the general response for your concept “The Last Savage”?
“The concept has always gotten people very excited. I first came up with it in 2015. The producer Matthew Chausse financed the art book while I wrote the first draft in 2016. I took it to the Macau Project Market in 2017 where we won one of the grants.
Then Derek Kolstad came on board and worked on a rewrite with me in 2018 before “Skylines” kind of took over the next two years of my life. It’s never been a question of the script or concept in my opinion, but it’s just a very ambitious original idea and those are hard to get made even for much more established filmmakers than me. But there’s been a lot of progress on it recently that I’m optimistic about.”
The artwork in Liam’s look book includes what will surely be a familiar face to most action fans, with the protagonist Buas, clearly bearing the likeness of Iko Uwais.
Iko, of course, needs no introduction, with his entire body of work from “Merantau” to “The Raid” movies and beyond, all speaking for itself. Iko was also a key player in “Beyond Skyline”, helping to bring the movie’s Silat-driven fight sequences to life, while his co-star Yayan Ruhian also returned for “Skylines”.
With Indonesia having become such an epicenter of the martial-arts movie world, “The Last Savage” having Iko Uwais and other Indonesian action stars come aboard would be a veritable godsend for action fans.
With “The Last Savage” having an Indonesian setting, is there anyone in particular, besides Iko Uwais who you’d hope to bring aboard?
“Well, the setting is sort of similar to the Mad Max films in that yes, it’s post-apocalyptic Indonesia, but no one ever calls it that. And you have a diverse cast of survivors from all around the region. But yes, there’s obviously a lot of incredibly talented Indonesian actors that I have been fortunate to work with, or get to know over the years that I would love to bring on to the project, but time will tell…”
The artwork in Liam’s pitch also gives a strong sense of the scale he’s going for with “The Last Savage”. You definitely get the “Mad Max” feel right off the bat, decidedly of the “Fury Road” variety.
The Colosseum-like arena setting, dubbed “The Altar”, also gives off a real feeling of grandeur for Buas’ battles, not unlike the similar arena settings seen in “Best of the Best 2” and “The Wrath of Vajra”.
Liam, please share with us what some of your inspirations in the look for the settings like, The Rig and The Altar were?
“For the Rig it really started with this image of a guy sitting on a helipad of a high rise…but you reveal that he’s fishing in the water 10 meters below.
Obviously there’s visual cues from apocalyptic classics like the Mad Max films and Waterworld, which I really truly love but at the same time…I am sort of obsessed with spirals and double helixes like DNA – which you can see in the main high rise on The Rig.
There’s a lot of those in the interior ship designs in “Beyond Skyline” and “Skylines”. So some of it is just building off of what fascinates me and what I find aesthetically pleasing or interesting. I think it’s just wild that our DNA building blocks look so f**king cool I guess, something kind of magical about it to me.
The Altar was just trying to come up with a unique twist on an arena. I love Jet Li‘s “Fearless“. That high platform fight was definitely an inspiration. But I thought giving it levels like a wedding cake could really present some great opportunities for the fight choreo and most importantly the drama.
The arena can kind of be taken for granted sometimes but because of the post apocalyptic setting, it felt like such an interesting opportunity to create something new in hopefully the same way Thunderdome did back then.”
We hope this teasing snippet of what Liam is striving for with “The Last Savage”, gives you a good idea of his compelling vision for an epic, post-apocalyptic martial-arts adventure. Hopefully, Liam and co.’s efforts to get “The Last Savage” underway commences in the near future…