Born in Jakarta, Indonesia on February 12, 1983, Uwais Qorny (nickname: Iko) is of the Betawi (native Jakartan) descent. He has been learning Indonesian traditional martial art, Pencak Silat, since he was 10 years old at his uncle's Silat school, Tiga Berantai, which uses the distinctive Betawi style of Silat. In 2003, Iko won third place at the Jakarta Provincial Tournament. In 2005, he won first place at the National Silat Championship as the best performer in the demonstration category.
Apart from Silat, his main interest was soccer. Once a midfielder in an Indonesian B-League soccer club, Iko has stopped his dream of becoming a soccer star after his club went bankrupt. Meanwhile his Silat skill has given him chances to travel abroad in several Silat exhibitions in the United Kingdom, Russia, Laos, Cambodia and France.
In 2007, Iko's talent was discovered by Welsh movie director, Gareth Evans who was filming a documentary about Silat in Iko's Silat school. Iko's natural charisma and great camera presence encouraged Evans to cast him as the leading role for his first martial art movie, Merantau. After signing a five year contract with Gareth Evans and his production company, Iko resigned from his daytime job as a driver in a telcom company.
In his first acting experience in Merantau, Iko played a role of a young Minang (West-Sumateran) male, led him to learn the Minang style Silat Harimau (Sumateran-tiger style) from Silat Master, Edwel Datuk Rajo Gampo Alam. Merantau was released in Indonesia on August 6, 2009. The film was featured in Puchon International Fantastic Film Festival in South Korea and South by Southwest (SXSW) Festival in Austin, Texas with highly positive reviews. Merantau won the Best Film award at ActionFest 2010.
Iko's second collaboration with Gareth Evans is a film called Serbuan maut (known as The Raid: Redemption internationally), which began filming in mid-March 2011 and set to be released on March 22, 2012 in Australia and New Zealand, March 23, 2012 in Indonesia and North America and May 18, 2012 in the UK. The movie has been hailed by critics and audiences in various festivals as one of the best martial art movies in years. Iko also served as the co-fight choreographer of the movie along with fellow actor/martial artist Yayan Ruhian.
Iko has a third movie planned with Gareth, tentatively titled as "Berandal" (Thugs in Indonesian), a sequel to The Raid, which will begin filming at the end of 2012.