View Full Version : Fight choreography in films

Home - Discussion Forums - News - Reviews - Interviews

New reviews, interviews and news

New in the Discussion Forum

Pages : [1] 2 3 4

December 1st, 2004, 05:13 PM
The Star wars thread inspired me to start a discussion about this.

How important is realism in film choreography to you? Does it matter that a move is inpractical if it is portrayed in a way that fits with the character and story or is realism everything?

Also it might be nice if people could give examples of fights that demostrate their thoughts.

Myself I am a big fan of realism in fights, I hate when weapons are used innapropriately, for that reason one of my favourite films choreography-wise is Rob Roy, Bill Hobbs is rightly regarded as a master of choreography, ok he has had moments when he fell back on simple "fives" but in general he is truly gifted.

However (didn't you just know that was coming?) I am more than happy to accept more fantastic combat if it is done with intent, panache and fits the story. The cliff-top rapier duel in the Princess bride demonstrates this more eloquently than I could ever hope to.

So what do you love and what do you hate?


P.S. I'll save what I hate for later on! :)

December 1st, 2004, 05:30 PM
I am not sure if this goes, but I know a few movies where the defeated persons sword is thrown away from him but as the person stands back up the sword is magically back.

P.S. If anyone says the StarWars scenes I'm gonna ....................j/k. :p

December 1st, 2004, 06:18 PM
I'm a stickler for realism.
I like my fights to be brutal and uncompromising.

The thing is, there is that little phrase "within context" that allows a LOT of leeway for acceptable realism depending on the story/environment etc.

If we look at Bruce Lee his fighting philosophy was "less is more" i.e. the idea of conservation of energy and movement e.g. the "one inch punch"
But of course Bruce is/was a movie icon, as well as a revolutionary martial artist and knew that the audience didn't want to see, and wouldn't appreciate, for example, the intricacy and skill level of two wing chun masters engaging in a rapid exchange of "sticky hands".

Therefore he went for a lot of big kicks etc, which when delivered with the skill and speed Bruce possessed, would be lethally effective regardless. So Bruce made it believeable as we know he could kick faster than most people punch.

I also love the fighting style of Wesley Snipes who has (like Bruce) training in many arts and blends them together beautifully and there is an efficient brutality about the techniques.

Another decent example is "The Bourne Identity", which I believe is styled on Kali, despite being a predominantly stick/blade art is represented in the empty hands form by Bourne, with a few Thai moves throw in for good measure.

Liked the sword play in Equlibrium, though it's not my forte to say how realistic it was as I haven't had the opportunity to play with swords much.

That's what I love...

What I hate is wire-fu fests like "Crouching Tiger". Yes, I know it's "in context" but it still looks cheap, fake and tacky!

Didn't like the Troy fight between Hector and Achilles. OKay more specific I didn't like Achilles. Looked like a Wushu spear pattern display to me.

Anything with Van Damme should be set to classical music as he's more a dancer than fighter (and a bad one at that!).

That's all for now or I'll be here all night.

More ranting later!

December 2nd, 2004, 12:30 AM
I do not care too much how realistic movie fights are depicted as long as they are consistent with the overall style and tone of the movie. What I dislike are unclear shots of the fights in progress whether it be due to too frenetic intercutting and editing or ultra close ups that give little context as to the overall positioning of the combatants and sequence of punches, kicks, and thrusts. That's probably one reason I don't care too much about the realism since realistic fights are generally messy affairs.

December 2nd, 2004, 09:22 AM
Oh this could be a huge discussion, I'll try and keep it relatively short though for the sake of all the poor souls who'll struggle to read through my pages of waffle...

Bruce Lee's success on the big screen was imho due to a number of things, firstly he was a relatively good looking man who appealed to both the eastern and western film going audiences, secondly he was an award winning dancer before going into acting and knew how to look good when performing. Thirdly he was new. I am not for a second trying to denegrate Jeet Kun Do, I feel it is one of the more effective systems out there, but I don't for a second think that what we saw on the screen was anything like the art he developed. Lastly he was exceptional at conveying realism in his fighting, you believe it when he moves. From a film-makers pov this is brilliant but it has led to a lot of myths about Martial Arts.

Wesley Snipes is another good example of a talented actor who gives his moves credibilty. It would be a mistake I think to give all of the credit for a good fight scene to the fighters, the fight directors do an amazing amount of work to create a fight that has the right feel for the actors and the film, but this can all be ruined by a director in the editing suite.

Now onto Wire-fu... :) I love it. Always have, I've been a fan of cheesy martial art flicks since I first saw Enter the Dragon as a kid. I love traditional Chinese Ghost films and I love the early work of people like Samo Hung and Yuen Biao, not to mention Jackie Chan, but that is a preference and not really a good argument. I would like to say though that the fight between Samo and Bruce at the opening of Enter the Dragon is one of my favs...

Troy? Again I enjoyed it, I thought Simon Crane did a sterling job with the choreography, I particlarly enjoyed the almost Thai influence that he gave Achilles. The main reason I think it worked though was because of the acting ablility of Brad Pitt and Eric Bana. The two of them (Pitt much more so) gave it a sense of truth that only good acting can get across. To say he was actually carrying a partial rupture of the Achilles tendon (irony?) at the time makes it even more impressive.

I would tend to agree when it comes to Jean-Claude, he started of in Ballet and was introduced to karate by Michael Qissi who went on to star opposite him in Kickboxer. I think after his first couple of films he became very much stuck in a rut and carried on making 80's flicks well into the 90's Ah well, can't win em' all

Now onto a few things I hate. The guy with the sword stick in Charlies Angels. Why it was thought a good idea to make a man with a thrusting weapon fight as if it was a katana I have no idea, also the guy was so crap he couldn't make us suspend disbelief, so I hate that.

I also hate the fact that the mistakes made by Egerton Castle, Richard Burton and Alfred Hutton are still paraded in modern films. The fact is Nihonto weigh more than their western counterparts and are not sharper. Armour isn't heavy and martial arts are not exclusively oriental.

Ok that's my rant over for the time being.

December 2nd, 2004, 11:06 AM
P.S. If anyone says the StarWars scenes I'm gonna ....................j/k. :p

the StarWars scenes :p

December 2nd, 2004, 04:14 PM
Personally I'm getting really tired of movies with these really elaborate choreographed fight scenes. The Matrix sequels, the Kill Bill movies, it's just getting to be too ridiculous. I prefer realism or even hokey heroism, just not these 15 minute fights that are supposed to be "breathtaking" but usually just leave me hoping they end soon.

December 3rd, 2004, 11:24 AM
The best fight scene in movies...

Indiana Jones, the guy spins the swords, Indy shoots him...


December 3rd, 2004, 11:27 AM
The best fight scene in movies...

Indiana Jones, the guy spins the swords, Indy shoots him...


That one only happened because Harrison Ford had a really bad cold that day and didn't feel up to doing the fight scene it was supposed to be...so they changed it to have him just shoot the swordsman.

I'm just full of useless Harrison Ford trivia today.

December 3rd, 2004, 11:48 AM
That one only happened because Harrison Ford had a really bad cold that day and didn't feel up to doing the fight scene it was supposed to be...so they changed it to have him just shoot the swordsman.

I'm just full of useless Harrison Ford trivia today.

Wow. I consider myself a big Indiana Jones fan, and I had never heard that before. Thanks for the factoid!