July 29, 2012

Action Breakdown #13: Action Stuntmen

We all love our action heroes and the crazy stunts that they pull in their movies. Jumping off of buildings, driving cars over cliffs, flipping cars over, smashing through walls, and many more insane acts of adrenaline. As much as we love our action stars, there is a group of people that deserve the same amount of praise if not moreso. They are the unspoken heroes of the genre and deserve their recognition. So here’s to the men and women that risk their lives every day for the good of the action genre.

Stuntmen have been around cinema since the dawn of film itself. Ever since the days of Chaplin and Joe Canutt in Ben-Hur, stuntmen knew what to do to deliver the thrills that captivated us in the movie theaters. Bond films feature plenty of awesome stunts performed by men and women like Jerry Comeaux (speedboat scene from Live and Let Die), Rick Sylvester (skiing off a cliff in The Spy Who Loved Me), and Sebastien Foucan (that kick ass parkour chase scene from Casino Royale). Other impressive action movie stunts include stuntman Billy Morts doubling for Keanu Reeves in the scene where Jack had to jump from a speeding Jaguar to the bus door. Simon Crane has been around for years with credits including The World is not Enough and A View to a Kill with some of his most impressive stunts being the opening bungee jump scene from GoldenEye and the aerial transfer scene from Cliffhanger. These names aren’t household names, but they all have performed such awe-inspiring stunts that they should be honored.

Sometimes the main actors actually perform their own stunts and are damn good at it as well. The standout being Jackie Chan with films like Rumble in the Bronx, Supercop, and Police Story showcase some of the best stunt work in all of film. Seriously, check those films out and watch Chan dangle from great heights and do some of the craziest stunt work in action films. Zoe Bell performed one of the best stunt car chases with her being strapped on the hood of a car with no harnesses (just two belts) while the car goes at high speeds and getting slammed by Stuntman Mike’s car at the same time. She’s also a regular Tarantino stunt double for his other films like The Kill Bill films and Inglourious Basterds. This chick has bigger balls than most guys. Tony Jaa is another man who is just damn impressive when it comes to his fight scenes. If you love martial arts, you have to catch the Ong Bak series. He defies the laws of physics and kicks it in the face to a bed of nails. Tom Cruise even jumped in with a jaw dropping climb of the Burj Khalifa (the world’s tallest building) all by himself in Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol.

It’s a shame to how the art of stunts has taken a backseat to CGI and green screen. Don’t get me wrong, I’m glad that stuntmen and women are practicing safer methods in order to avoid unnecessary fatalities on set like the unfortunate passing of a stuntman on the set of Expendables 2. However, watching those stunts performed in real time and with real backgrounds just adds the thrill that can only be replicated if done live-action. Times are changing, but nothing compares to a death defying jump to a moving vehicle during a high speed car chase.

There you have it folks. An ode to the men and women who risk themselves to bring us those money shots we see in those action movie trailers. Without them, we wouldn’t have action period. So a toast to these brave and talented people.

About the Author

My name is Omar and I love action movies. I grew up loving action films thanks in part to my father who would deliver a healthy dose of Stallone, Schwarzenegger, Willis, and Seagal in my movie diet. Ever since then, I continue to love the genre more and more and go along perfectly with my love for the horror genre. What other movie genre can specialize in giving you pure adrenaline and excitement in every turn?



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