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Summer's coming up so we wanna talk action, but we're not in the mood for
picking favorites instead,
let's pick a deep dive into five more brilliant moments, this time in action.
First up we got a brilliant little moment from The Raid, about 25 minutes in to
a stealthy raid up a gang controlled high rise, the heroes are discovered, their
guards are killed, their communication cut off and the lights are cut.
All of a sudden, they're trapped and they need to battle their way out to survive.
But before that happens they hole up in a stairwell to prepare as the big
dad puts a price on their heads over the loud speaker.
We hear a sound which the next cut connects to a glance which
a wonderful slope hand then connects to the door knob,
there's someone at the door, everyone gets in place, let's do this.
The sound is on, music and push inniness of the shots are all communicating very
clearly and conventionally that something is about to happen.
But then, we punch in on Jacka's face and his eyes twitch.
The punch in tells us something is happening internally and
our first guess would be fear but the head turn directs our focus elsewhere,
there's something else going on and then we see it.
Now, we know more than the characters and
the tension of dramatic irony is introduced, what's going to happen?
How will it happen?
Will they realized the second threat in time?
So, in order to render the tension visual between a perceived threat in
one direction and the real unperceived threat in that other.
The director cut between two axis as indicated by the eyes,
one horizontal between man and door and one vertical between man and
unknown threat above and then the trigger is pulled.
(Sound) Holy shit,
talk about impressive
visual storytelling,
the muzzle emits a beautiful glow.
>From the attackers perspective,
the glow briefly illuminates their unsuspecting prey.
A shot in the face shining the glow, they are seen,
followed by a gun barrels raising.
The position of the drafts tells us what they're racing towards, and then chaos.
(Sound) Without words or
explanation we understand the exact dynamics of the situation.
Tension is laid out before us with clearly delineated opposition and
stakes are obvious, the danger is visceral.
All too often bad action injures it's stars or kills off it's supporting cast to
no effect, it's the generic red shirt death and it can make action boring.
Why should we care about our heroes if their plot armor is so
thick it's more like plot invincibility.
If they can do parkour chases through the streets a day after their intestines were
eviscerated, we stop suspending our disbelief and even worse, paying
attention to what's happening, the stabs don't matter, so why should we worry?
And that's where the raid succeeds,
because a single misplaced bullet costs them lives and we know exactly why.
And we see it coming like a runaway trolley that we're powerless,
just like Jaka, to stop.
If the raid is one brilliant little moment of clearly communicated visual action,
Mad Max Fury Road is one after another for about two straight hours.
Which sounds like it might get tedious or straight forward and boring, but Miller
manages to be so absolutely clever about it you don't even realize it's happening.
You see, Bruce Lee had it right, bad guys really only can attack one at a time and
be understood.
We can really follow one line of action that quickly,but clever action directors
like Miller Stagger out the conflict, such that they aren't happening all at once.
Consider Idmon's battle of ten black belts,
it's really just one on one after one on one.
But it's staggered much more intricately than injure the dragon was, so
it looks like he's doing ten things at once.
He isn't, he's doing one thing, after one thing, after one thing,
all woven together like a tapestry.
Zigzagging between every character in the room so
that everyone is involved in the singular event.
So, sure, it looks like Furiosa and Max are fighting 18 different battles at once,
but in practice, we're not getting told 18 different stories.
We're being told one single story that just so happens to involve all 18 battles
and tracks linearly throughout them all, check it out.
(Sound) If I go back to narrate this clip like a book,
you'll see how linearly each bit flows into the next.
Stone Cold Steve Austin, here fires a torpedo directly into the steering wheel
so Max can't turn it anymore, it pulls out the steering wheel and
then traps Max's hand.
Prego and Redhead jump out, grab the bolt cutters and release his hand,
problem solved.
Furioso quickly attaches a make shift steering wheel but
they're headed straight for a rock and can't turn in time.
Joe is like, shit, my baby mama is about to get squished and
sure enough they smash right into it.
But she's okay, however her newly injured foot slips on her newly bleeding blood and
the newly damaged door gives way so she falls from the rig directly into the path
of Joe who swerves, rolls his truck and ends the pursuit.
That's a pretty god damn linear story in the action,
but look at how many people are involved.
Max, Furiosa, Blondie, Lindsay Lohan, Joe, and Andre the Giant,
all the major players have bit parts in this one minute of skirmish.
Miller is the master of finding clever ways to temporarily disable certain
characters or keep them at a distance so
that he can make way for others in the conflict without leading
anyone bouncing around awkwardly in the background.
Like Max here with his hand, this lets the sirens in Furiosa of shine or Joe and
gang here, this lets the rig get away to make space for the next conflict or
even the whole reason Joe is on his own in the first place.
Because the rest of his war band got stuck behind some rocks and he was the only
one with four wheel drive in a god damned rocky desert apocalypse apparently, but
it gets better.
You know how in a stand up comic's routine,
when they've already had their fun with some sill bit and then ten minutes later
they cleverly reincorporate it back into their latest joke with a callback?
Miller does this with just about everything, but
instead of humor, he uses violence, just like my parents, anyway.
Those wire cutters, they we're a key plot point just a short while back.
Even the rickety door and bum leg are planted moments earlier,
which brings us to our final point, the characters.
This action sequence wouldn't be much more interesting than actual dominos if it
we're just clever pieces of shrapnel banging into each other in
one long chain explosion.
But in between the explosions and feats of strength and
moments of cleverness, Millard Peppers in just the right amount of character.
The individual characters are essential cogs in the Rube Goldberg machine, and
their decisions are both entirely warranted by the action that comes
immediately before, and entirely impactful to the consequences that come about after.
And he does this by planting who they are and then paying it off in their actions.
Time and time again,
we're given indication of how important Joe's unborn child is to him.
When the flame thrower's shut off, when he's forced to hold his fire because she
throws her body in front of Furiosa and immediately before her spill on
the fake out where we hear and see his warning yell.
So when she actually does fall, and Joe swerves and nearly kills himself and
his crew, not only is it believable,
it's inevitable, which is what makes this whole sequence so bloody brilliant.
We watched a ton of action sequences to pick out our favorite moments for
this list.
And one of the recurring features of some of our less favorite bits of action is
something I wanna Gestalt action.
Gestalt action is nonspecific, it's not about the individual bullets or
even necessarily the individual people, it's happening at Scale.
Army A is pushing back army B, the good guys are beating up the bad guys,
we're dying out here.
It communicates the broad strokes of a fight,
which is important, especially if it's a massive fight.
But if a fight scene ends up being a little too gush salty,
the individual component parts start not to matter, if each gunshot is a drop in
a bucket we stop really caring about the impact in pain of each gunshot.
We're just waiting for the bucket to overflow, but
when each drop in the bucket is the exact drop
that sends it overflowing into the next one, that's something special.
Peter Jackson is brilliant at this or he wasn't The Lord of the Rings,
this kind of stuff is noticeably lacking in The Hobbit.
But at helm's deep, he's tackling two massive armies, but
somehow we still care about every death in every arrow.
We stay focused on the heroes without losing track of the turning tide of
the battle field, this is really hard to do.
In fact, there aren't very many movies that do it all that well,
even movies with otherwise brilliant action sequences like
Saving Private Ryan's final 30 minutes actually miss a lot of opportunities here.
Whereas in the Battle of Helms Deep, we always know which direction the fight
is swinging and even where there are wins and losses on the battlefield,
Saving Private Ryan showdown is much more chaotic.
It's easy for us to lose track of the general geometry of the battlefield,
such that when characters are being flanked, we aren't quite sure
why it's happening except for that's what the script says is going on right now.
But the main brilliance of Peter Jackson's direction here is what I'm gonna call
pyramid action, the entire massive battle is the base of the pyramid.
It's huge,
it's not easy to keep track of without one of those cool big maps that they have in
war rooms with those awesome action figures they push around with sticks, but
one level above that, we narrow it down a bit, get a little simpler.
We can divide the action into two general sides, Roherim versus Oorokai,
we keep these nice and evenly divided, screen left and screen right,
it's just good writing and directing.
You pay a little closer attention,
you'll realize that the battle is further broken up into two fronts.
The walls and the gate, one below the other, but
even keeping track of two whole fronts can be tough, so let's take it one step
further by giving each of these two fronts some general strategies.
There's one strategy at a time being played out in each region by
each side of the war.
On the offense, they include ladders, mega crossbow ladders, battering rams and
And on the defense, they include bracing the gates,
pushing over ladders, falling back to the keep and shooting the bomb guys, but
this is still a little gush salty.
If we left it here the whole battle would be told in lots of little montages,
we see three letters go up in a row, we know that ladder strategy is winning.
We see a couple orcs get stabbed,
we know the orcs are getting beat, but PJ don't wanna do that, so what does he do?
He builds up one more level and gives each strategy a lynchback,
this is the tip of the pyramid, check it out.
- Is this it?
Is this all you
can conjure,
- (Foreign).
(Sound) In order to win the war the orc's have to win the wall fight,
in order to win the wall fight, they have to breach the walls.
In order to breach the walls they have to blow up some bombs,
in order to blow up some bombs they have to light them and how do they light them?
Well, with the Olympic torch McGorch over here and yeah, we admit, the chariots of
fire steeds is a little dorky, but look at how brilliantly written it is.
It's a single moment with a single action that has a single opposing strategy that
is immediately understandable.
And when accomplished, gives way to a strategy win that gives way to a front
win, that gives way to the gaining the orc gaining the upper hand, this single person
turns the tide of the war and it makes us root for every single arrow.
And as a topper, who do we find at the tip of the pyramid?
Our heroes, it's Aragorn, seeing the ploy, yelling to Legolas to fire the arrows.
They're the ones leading the charge against the main strategies of the enemy.
They are the key deciding factors that have the ability to turn the tide of
the entire war one way or
the other, that's how you make massive battles into personal affairs.
You make it so the impact of each decision trickles down the entire pyramid,
like some kind of actiony Reaganomics, so that this tiny frame sized moment at
the top effects everything down to the very foundation
What's even cooler is that Jackson and his writers managed to tie all of this action
deeper still to the characters, their personalities, conflicts and arcs.
We see the melee battle turn into a friendly competition between Gimley and
Legolas, which is essential to their movement from adversaries to best friends,
that's just great efficient storytelling.
And that's what we want for this list, special moments that reflect character,
and theme, and intricacy in every shot, I mean,
really, what makes the difference in a lot of fights?
Why does Rocky eventually overcome Drago?
Sure, we know it's because he wants it more or because he's an American or
because he's a fighter, not a quitter.
Which is cool, but in how many places does the choreography,
cinematography and style reflect this?
I mean, it all just comes down to which one the script tells to act tired first,
they could've just as easily swapped places if the scene needed to
go the other way.
We keep coming back to Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, it's fight scenes are so
unlike this it's unbelievable.
Crouching Tiger is transcended in the sense that all the action
is specifically choreographed to the character performing it.
Even the specific point on their arc and their mental state at the time,
every single moment of each fight is a slice of the greater conflict at hand.
For instance here,
we very clearly see Li Mu Bai's, Hong getting the best of Jin's childish anger.
And here, Shu Lin is learning something about Jin,
here Jin's ego has her delivering a tirading sermon of a fight in
here in one of the best choreographed fights of all time.
Even the lay viewer is, without a word,
brought to understand the differences in their abilities and their weapons.
Throughout the entire course of the fight in one brilliant exchange after another we
see Xulin superior martial skills put Jin on the defensive backing her to a corner
only for her to escape by destroying Xulin's weapon with her superior blade.
Weapon after weapon, Xulin lays into Jin with sword and
spear and what the hell are those even called, until finally Jin arrogantly
let Xulin take her pick of the litter, so she picks her favorite of them all.
(Sound) Incredible, right?
To begin with, skill in weapon strength are immensely complicated
in abstract concepts to attempt to communicate with hardly a word.
Yet here, we get to feel the power of the sword against the power of the fighter.
And this brilliant cinematic concept saturates every fiber of the fight from
the performances that put different looks on their faces to the choreography that
finds Xulin almost exclusively on the offence with Jin paring blows,
every element tells the greater story.
And then Xulin quicly disarms Jin,
she's trying to separate her from the weapon that's causing so much trouble.
Jin takes her sword back, she's definitely not trying to be separated and
then they make two symmetrical moves against each other, and what happens?
In what is absolute choreography brilliant, Xulin uses Jin's
weapon's insurmountable strength against her, allows it to slice through her sword,
so that she can carry the blow through with a shortened blade held to her neck.
It is a perfect ending of pride versus patience skill, to summarize a fight,
which summarizes the film in what might be the most emotionally intelligent fight
scene ever shot.
You've probably guess that we are not the biggest fans of shaky cam fight.
Clarity and efficiency and understandability and
causality are mother important to us.
And it should be obvious by now that seizurefull camerawork
isn't conducive to this.
Except, you'd be wrong,
we don't like to be mamby pamby cinema old timers who can't appreciate modern trends.
And, although the fact we just said mamby pamby, probably means we're much more old
timey than we'd like to be, shaky cam is definitely not all bad.
Sure, it's often a big crutch film makers can use to make one on one fights feel
cohesive and continuous, and intense, and
chaotic by hiding the specifics behind the rapid editing and camera movement, instead
relying on the gestaltiness of which person's pain grunts you hear more often.
But it can also lend itself to a more abstract style of visual storytelling that
is no less specific than a George Miller chase.
(Sound) You know
what happened,
And sure, the sound helps, but even if we take it away, like this,
you still know what's going on and not just in a,
I know they're fighting sense or even, I know who's winning sense.
You know what's happening all the way down to the, which Lin is doing what sense.
It's not the only way to shoot this action, but it carries the intensity and
chaos and frenetic immersiveness that is unique to shaky
cam without the sacrificing the clarity that comes with a good action moment.
And it does this by getting really caveman with it's communication,
it's like a master class in charades This shot tells us towel hits arm.
This shot tells us what really happened, this shot tells us bone controls arm, he
hits head, he lose his knife, next verily, head bash, put in corner, struggle, choke.
The shot may come fast and shaky, but there is certainly not random and
they certainly not hiding anything, they're modern dancing.
Chopping up the action, cutting frequently and abstracting the fight into it's
tiny component pieces and letting our brains putting it together.
And it works, we can follow the chaos in real time because it does what any good
action sequence does.
It tells us in a straightforward way that we can understand exactly what's going on,
exactly why it matters and
exactly what's at stake if it fails, that's a good action moment.
Yeah, and it looks awesome too, so there's that, so what do you guys think?
Do you like this kinda list?
Got some more thoughts on these moments or others like them?
Let us know in the comments below and be sure to subscribe for
more Cinefix Movie Lists.


電影如何拍攝動作 (5 Brilliant Moments of Action)

257 分類 收藏
Pedroli Li 發佈於 2019 年 1 月 29 日
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