I was alerted to a great post by Reddit User drkaczuz about the role of stunt men and women compared to the same scenes done by “real” martial artists who are not trained in movie-fu.
I’ll quote it here (I hope he doesn’t mind because it’s really interesting, and he makes some great points):
“Yeah, people very often misunderstand the role of stunt doubles, especially in fight scenes. It’s often not as much about skill, or risk as about production logistics. Even if you have a physically capable actor, with MA experience, you still want to use the stunt doubles, simply to squeeze the most out of pre-production time. You can’t lock the star of the show in a room with the stunt crew for a few weeks to rehearse the scene to perfection, they need to well, act. Learn their lines, prepare for their non-action scens, do marketing stuff, photoshoots, etc. What you CAN do is have the stunt double rehearse the entire choreography for months untill it’s buttery smooth and them tag them in on a moment’s notice.
Another thing with actors that have MA background is how different movie fighting is from real fighting – a lot of time real fighting skills and reflexes actually make on-screen fighting look worse.
I think Donnie Yen vs Mike Tyson is a good example showcasing a lot of issues when working with real athletes – we all know Mike is insanely fast, but in this clip he appears slow and sluggish, and you can’t really see the power behind the blows – further below I’ll try to explain why.
Anderson Silva from the same flick, notice the kicks especially, also look at all Randy Couture scenes from Expendables – they’re a dark, shakycam mess, but a lot of shakycam and bad lighting is damage control to hide hits that didn’t sell well.
I am not saying that having actual martial artists on set is bad – but you have to manage them really well, have an action director that will guide them and communicate their vision clearly. In a lot of cases a director will oh so wrongly assume that if they have the star martial artist on set they can just tell them to do their thing and it’ll come together somehow. Also it’s not that being good at actual fighting is somehow a hinderance – all good stuntpeople will be at least competent in one or more actual combat sport or martial art. It’s just they have a LOT of additional knowledge on top, as well as the ability to turn some instincts on and off.
There’s more to this post, including links to good examples of well done fight choreography.
I really need (do I really?) to write something about this new Cobra Kai film coming out on YouTube Red (whatever that is – I think it’s just another way of saying, er, “YouTube you have to pay for”).
Here’s the trailer:
I’m picking up unusual levels of intelligence and self-awareness here. There has been a long-running fan theory that everybody got Karate Kid wrong – that Ralph Macchio’s character, Danny, the Karate Kid himself, wasn’t the hero of the film at all – he was the villain!
Check out the fan theory here:
It’s a good example of how you can view the same events from a different perspective and come up with a different version of “the truth”.
From watching the trailer, Cobra Kai seems well aware of this fan theory and is playing on it nicely. It seems that Daniel has grown up to be a bit of an asshole, his ego has become uncontrollable from his victory, while Johnny has kept it real, but fallen on hard times, his ego deflated by the ass-kicking he received in that infamous competition.
It looks like the two are heading for an inevitable rematch, but whose side do you feel like you belong on? There are 10 episodes planned, and I really hope there’s a schmaltzy ending where a digitally reconstructed hologram of Pat Morita comes back as some sort of Jedi force-ghost and whispers “Trust your feelings! Do the Crane kick!” in Danny’s ear.
Things have been getting a bit ‘academic’ lately on the blog, so let’s just have some fun. I just saw this fight choreography for Batman vs Bane in an upcoming computer game called Batman the Enemy Within. Check it out:
It's Batman vs. Bane in our latest look at the fight choreography for Batman: The Enemy Within. Who are you putting money on? pic.twitter.com/yTUVDj2QKn
It’s interesting for a number of reasons – firstly, it’s really good! People putting this much work into fight sequences for a game surprised me. This isn’t motion capture – the sequence is a “visual reference for animators”. It would be really interesting to see how the final sequence looks when fully animated. You can see some examples of their animated work below:
"No matter how hard I fight, sometimes I have to lose."
Secondly, they’re using a woman as the Batman character. Partly I think this is to create a size difference between the two characters. Bane is meant to be bigger, and he can inject venom to “Hulk up” a bit when he needs to.
Finally, the fighting style used looks very jiu jitsu-based, of the “flying armbar” variety. At one stage in the movie franchise Batman moved towards a fighting style that was based more around Filipino arts.