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Choreography of a fight scene in movies

Posted: 2019-08-25 06:43pm
by ray245


Here's a fun little video with professional stuntman and filmmakers talking about stunts and fight scene in movies, especially on the importance of developing an important narrative via the choreography of a fight.

The last bit about the Hollywood remake of Old Boy's fight scene does perhaps goes to show Hollywood films can be relatively underdeveloped in terms of using choreography to tell a narrative. In a lot of SW discussion about the prequel fight scenes vs the OT fight scenes, I find that many many fans, especially "western" fans don't pay much importance to the how the choreography of a fight scene can be used to tell a narrative.

There's a lot of clamour for "realism" in Hollywood fight scenes, but sometimes it doesn't necessarily create an interesting narrative within the fight scene. There's a lot of focus on what happens during a fight, and less focus on how the fight develop as a continuous flow of action.

Another YouTube channel discussed this issue as well, especially on how Jackie Chan's Hollywood films can often lack the dynamism that is apparent in his Hong Kong films.


Re: Choreography of a fight scene in movies

Posted: 2019-08-26 12:17am
by The Romulan Republic
I don't think realism has to come at the expense of entertainment or narrative- it depends on the skill of the filmmakers, the story they're trying to tell, and the style its being done in.

Just to give an example- the slow-mo in fight scenes in the Matrix worked. It was stylish, an immediately iconic hallmark of the franchise as much as black leather, trench coats, or Keanu's flat acting. It was also visually distinctive, and allowed them to show off the reality-bending abilities of the characters in an easy-to-grasp way, without being overused. But there are a lot of films that have used slow-mo really badly/far too much, to the point where its become hokey, and/or a crutch to generate false drama (looking at you, Peter Jackson).

Re: Choreography of a fight scene in movies

Posted: 2019-08-26 04:16am
by ray245
The Romulan Republic wrote:
2019-08-26 12:17am
I don't think realism has to come at the expense of entertainment or narrative- it depends on the skill of the filmmakers, the story they're trying to tell, and the style its being done in.

Just to give an example- the slow-mo in fight scenes in the Matrix worked. It was stylish, an immediately iconic hallmark of the franchise as much as black leather, trench coats, or Keanu's flat acting. It was also visually distinctive, and allowed them to show off the reality-bending abilities of the characters in an easy-to-grasp way, without being overused. But there are a lot of films that have used slow-mo really badly/far too much, to the point where its become hokey, and/or a crutch to generate false drama (looking at you, Peter Jackson).
It's not even about realism vs fantasy. The action fight scene in the Korean Old Boy is gritty and "realistic", but it has a clear narrative function that speaks to the audience. Compare that with the Hollywood remake by Spike Lee, an excellent director but he still seems to misunderstand why the original fight scene worked the way it did.

The importance of movement in a Hollywood scene is something very often neglected by many Hollywood directors. There's a generation of causal online film critics that keeps harping endlessly about how the plot and acting is the most important thing in a film, but I think too many people undervalue the importance of using other elements to tell a cohesive narrative. Body language and etc has become something people neglect, despite the fact that film itself is an medium more about the movement of the characters than merely about what they say.

Re: Choreography of a fight scene in movies

Posted: 2019-09-22 11:27am
by Korgeta
I say good choreography comes down to how plausible they are with a character. If you have say a character whose entire life has been hard working class, hangs in the bar with friends, spends time with family and never really hit the gym, yet by the final act he's going toe to toe against a CIA trained killer with zero character development, then choreography will come off as false.

It feels like sometimes filmmakers are obliged to have their characters showcase 3 seconds of kug fu, krav maga or whatever the latest fighting trend is 'hip' I can still recall to this day an advert in my local papers of a guy who offered training fighting style used in the Nolan batman movies. Seriously?

Another factor is some just drag longer then they should, I think James Bond Spectre has some good up and close personal fighting but the train fight really dragged out despite some of it's gritty appeal but more importantly I think, Choreography has to setup the character's intent to try and win. There's people throwing punches and showman fighting style but if the story is about high stakes then that character shouldn't be fighting for the sake of it, they should be fighting to try and end it as soon as.

Re: Choreography of a fight scene in movies

Posted: 2019-09-22 02:41pm
by Lord Revan
Korgeta wrote:
2019-09-22 11:27am
I say good choreography comes down to how plausible they are with a character. If you have say a character whose entire life has been hard working class, hangs in the bar with friends, spends time with family and never really hit the gym, yet by the final act he's going toe to toe against a CIA trained killer with zero character development, then choreography will come off as false.

It feels like sometimes filmmakers are obliged to have their characters showcase 3 seconds of kug fu, krav maga or whatever the latest fighting trend is 'hip' I can still recall to this day an advert in my local papers of a guy who offered training fighting style used in the Nolan batman movies. Seriously?

Another factor is some just drag longer then they should, I think James Bond Spectre has some good up and close personal fighting but the train fight really dragged out despite some of it's gritty appeal but more importantly I think, Choreography has to setup the character's intent to try and win. There's people throwing punches and showman fighting style but if the story is about high stakes then that character shouldn't be fighting for the sake of it, they should be fighting to try and end it as soon as.
I think all this can be condensed as "they choreograph for their portfolio, instead for choreographing for the character". I mean a the character you depicted could beat a CIA trained killed (training doesn't make you invincible after all) but it wouldn't be an fight between equals and the under dog's victory should come almost as a mistake rather then outfighting the agent.

Someone who hasn't fought a before should have fighting style that's unrefinied, clumsy and sloppy as they would be fighting more on instinct then skill. Not someone who go toe to toe against a trained fighter as equals but him winning isn't a foregone conclusion either it just needs to be done the right way.

The same issue of not choreographing for the character is at many fight scenes I feel drag, unless your character has a personality type who likes to show on in fights they shouldn't drag the fight longer then it's needed.

Re: Choreography of a fight scene in movies

Posted: 2019-09-22 09:50pm
by LadyTevar


Hallway Fight, Daredevil, Season Two.

From what has been said, this was pulled off by having a hand-held camera for the constant filming, and the camera was carefully handed off between the stuntmen as they lined up for their piece of the fight.

Is this part of a 'story' or 'narrative'? That's debatable, however I do approve of the smoothness of the filming.

Re: Choreography of a fight scene in movies

Posted: 2019-09-23 01:44pm
by Lord Revan
LadyTevar wrote:
2019-09-22 09:50pm
Hallway Fight, Daredevil, Season Two.

From what has been said, this was pulled off by having a hand-held camera for the constant filming, and the camera was carefully handed off between the stuntmen as they lined up for their piece of the fight.

Is this part of a 'story' or 'narrative'? That's debatable, however I do approve of the smoothness of the filming.
I can't say anything about the "narrative" as I've not seen the series but it doesn't seem to be choreographed with the character in mind first and foremost instead of the stunmen's portfolio in mind as the priority.

The moves aren't too show offy and the hero is using their abilities to level the playing field as much, also the hero isn't invincible and gets overwhelmed several times,

Re: Choreography of a fight scene in movies

Posted: 2019-09-25 02:28am
by Shroom Man 777
Even in non-western contexts there are more conservative and abrupt choreography that are rife with narrative and tension - i.e. samurai flicks with quick kills and ends. Which drew (haha) inspiration from and later on gave inspiration to Western gunslinger films.

Pro-wrestling has multiple types of choreography+narrative, and there can be long flashy sequences that tell stories but also long flashy ones that are gratuitous and hollow, in contrast to more conservative methodically paced "slower" less flashy ones that also convey story... and also methodical ones that fail to do so and fall flat.

A great western choreographed fight scene with story AND relatively realistic moves is... the "put on the glasses" brawl between Roddy Piper and Keith David in John Carpenter's They Live. There's so much tension, it's a narratively important part, it even gets homoerotic, Slavoj Zizek uses it to discuss ideology... and it displays very sound striking and grappling (and transitions) as Roddy is an accomplished amateur boxer (Golden Gloves winner), pro-wrestler, and trained under "Judo Gene" LeBell. This mix actually makes it an early example of MMA or proto-MMA in western cinema (Lethal Weapon is another).

Rob Roy of course.