May 12, 2009

Frustratingly Going Where So Many Movies Have Gone Before

"See guys, the trick to filming fight scenes is that the camera actually creates the action"...

There were a number of aspects of Star Trek that left me unimpressed, not the least of which was Jim Kirk/Chris Pine channeling Pete Mitchell/Tom Cruise; I half-expected him to have to outgun a fellow Starfleet cadet named Iceman. OK, I didn't expect it, but I hoped for it.

And I could have done without the clichéd Romulan leader Nero (don't forget, facial tattoos = bad guy), and the
clichéd monster-eats-monster disappointment, and the shamelessly predictable "climax" that audaciously tries to make us think that the entire crew of the U.S.S. Enterprise will perish in a black hole, thus upending the very existence of the Star Trek franchise.

These things made me scoff more than scowl, but one piece of this movie went so far as to outright disappoint me: the fight scene atop the massive drill bit miles high in the sky. A tremendous set piece (one of many that J.J. Abrams impressively brought to life), this platform was featured twice in Star Trek to mostly stunning effect. My problem was not the use of this set, but the huge letdown that was the boring action on top of it. Of all the things Abrams got right with this movie, and despite all of the annoyances I've already listed, the lack of creativity in the hand-to-hand combat department ended up being my biggest problem with Star Trek.

Whatever happened to the ballet of a fight scene?

How many guys were they actually fighting up there, and how did they emerge victorious?

I can guarantee you one thing: today's action directors spend significantly more time and energy getting the right camera angle/effect than they do actually choreographing a fight scene, and what we end up with are a bunch of images and sounds that form no coherent whole. It's like pounding a case of Red Bull, spinning your head around a bat on the floor 10 times and then watching an MTV show/video montage through a kaleidoscope with the TV at full volume.

Sometimes, I think the director must simply tell the actors, "Pretend like you're fighting, just do whatever, we'll take care of the rest," before turning his attention to the D.P. and camera crew and explaining how the fighting should really look and "feel". Isn't that backwards? Shouldn't the camera observe the action and not create it?

A recent notable exception is Paul Greengrass, particularly in his direction of the instantly classic fight scene in Tangiers in The Bourne Ultimatum. Damon and his adversary, Joey Ansah, obviously spent days practicing their brutal dance before the camera rolled. To get the money shot, Greengrass just used a handheld camera straight on without a lot of zooming, cut the music, amped up the sound effects a bit, and hyper-edited it to make it look like there wasn't a moment to breathe. The result: you can actually understand what's happening in the physical space of the room, and it's a pure adrenaline rush.

Compare this to fight scenes in The Dark Knight, Prince Caspian, Quantum of Solace and Watchmen, for example, and you may get some idea of what I'm talking about. Worse yet, especially in Watchmen - the fighting is creatively choreographed, before being ruined by the cinematography. Zack Snyder is trying to do what the Wachowski Brothers did in the original Matrix, but it's not working. Those guys used - not abused - the camera, and their delicate direction of the action produced some of the most beautiful violence of the decade.

Ten years later, I feel like we're almost to a point where some director will simply have the actors start punching the camera lens, because that would be so intense, man. J.J. Abrams didn't go as far as doing this in Star Trek, but that fight scene was, at least to me, incredibly disorienting, and I don't think it was because it happened at 50,000 feet. There just didn't appear to be any order or flair to the fighting, a doubly disappointing situation considering Hikaru Sulu is supposed to be a fencing champion.
I know Star Trek isn't meant to be an action or martial arts movie, so maybe I should have saved this rant for a different movie, but nonetheless, it still seemed like a missed opportunity to elicit a few more "oohs" and "ahhs" and maybe even some laughs from the audience.

Am I asking too much? Must I shrug my shoulders and accept that creative choreography is a quaint ideal? All I know is that the panache of the past has slowly faded in the 2000's, and I for one am disappointed. In the early part of the decade we had some brilliant work in Gladiator and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, but those are distant memories now, like the hilarious swordsplay in The Princess Bride.

What was the last really great fight scene, anyway? And by "great" I mean creative, choreographed, well paced, engaging, and above all, well filmed. We'll consider something like this scene from Rumble in the Bronx as the gold standard, and bonus points for thinking of non-Asian cinema like Ong Bak or House of Flying Daggers.


  1. You echo my thoughts well. I HATE the new wave method of cutting together fight scenes. That opening car chase in "Quantum of Solace" made me want to get up and leave the theater immediately. Why can't everything be filmed like the shoot-out scene in "Heat" or the long hammer fight scene in "Oldboy"?

  2. Well you can read my long rant on Quantum of Solace here, but suffice to say the action was one of many things that drove me nuts. You bring up another interesting point with shootouts as in Heat, as those also appear to be a thing of the past. It's almost as if directors are just throwing up their hands and saying, "Nah, forget it, too much continuity and stuff to worry about. Let's just use 50 cameras and zoom in and out and mash it all together and nobody will know what's going on anyway." It'll be interesting to see if Michael Mann reigns it in for what must surely be some serious shooting in Public Enemies.

    In any event, my issue is more with the close combat fighting. I suppose I could have seen the recent movie Fighting and maybe my theory would have been thrown out the window, but it looked like a bad, 8 Mile-inspired version of a Fight Club/Rocky wannabe, so I avoided it.

    Where are you, Jackie Chan?

    In other news, I really need to get my post labels in order. This related posts thing continues to bring up some amusing results.

  3. Daniel: We agree on the disappointment but we disagree on the root of the problem, at least in part.

    I agree with you that the vast majority of fight scenes are overcut, thus robbing us of the ability to follow the action and making fights merely chaotic. Of course, the Bourne films you mentioned do this, too, they just happen to do it much better. At this point you might consider that fast-cutting fight scenes are like people singing in public: sometimes it's awesome; the rest of the time it's a fucking train wreck.

    As for the fights themselves, here's where we disagree. The Star Trek fight is absolutely choreographed. Overly choreographed, in fact. The inspiration? Well, movies like Crouching Tiger and the Jackie Chan flicks, I'd bet.

    In those films fights are ballet, as you suggest. Which is fine if you like ballet. But I grow tired of watching fights in which the combatants on both sides spend 10 minutes showing their incredible skills by hitting their opponent about a million different places except the places that would actually end the fight. I find myself watching these dances and wishing one of the guys would emulate Indiana Jones, pull a gun and get it over with.

    In blockbusters, fight scenes have become like CGI spectacles (and often they are both at the same time). Blockbuster filmmakers seem to think that they need to make the action long and frantic in order to make it exciting. Instead, these fight scenes tend to feel outside the actual drama. And while it's annoying that the hyper cuts prevent us from following the action, does it matter? Watching the Star Trek brawl, did you ever worry, even for a second, that Kirk might get as much as a scratch on him? I didn't. That's the key difference between the imitators and the Bourne films: the losers of those fights were punished, and Bourne was usually punished along the way. Overly choreographed? Yes. Over-cut? Sure. But you can feel those Bourne fight scenes, and that's what counts.

    It's funny: In watching the six original-cast Star Trek films recently, I wondered if the fistfights could be any less graceful. Watching Abrams' film, I longed for those old awkward fights. At least they resembled people fighting, instead of dancing. If I wanted ballet, I'd go to the ballet. At this point, most blockbuster "fights" or duels are closer to the dance-offs on West Side Story than a gritty brawl.

  4. Hehe, well your last sentence really brings your point home well. I completely agree that contemporary fight scenes lack both a natural flow and natural consequences. No question about it.

    And I also understand where you're coming from in terms of the Star Trek scene being overly cooked. In some ways it reminded me of the Spider-Man fight scenes, which brought to mind the Mighty Morphin Power Rangers.

    If I can drill down a bit more, I think there is a notable difference between the choreography of an Indiana Jones fight and the current blockbusters we're talking about (Watchmen, et al.). The Indy fights are really played for laughs, not terror, and I actually loved how he would always sneak his way out of a fight or just lay down a couple of big punches (maybe similar to the old Star Trek fights you mention). It was like the old, efficient James Bond, seen here and again in last years OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies. It's kind of like Buster Keaton-style fighting, and I love it.

    Then there are the Crouching Tiger/Matrix films, which are truly artistic. And to clarify, though I praised The Matrix in my post, that was as much for the cinematography as it was for the choreography. Same goes for something like Kill Bill, where Tarantino made a kind of synchronized symphony of slicing swords. I can take or leave that style, but at the very least I appreciate the creative effort and time spent blocking the scenes.

    And then there is a go-between area. At least George Lucas, for all of his flaws in the last few Star Wars movies, just set the camera down and used conventional angles for the climactic Yoda lightsaber scene.

    This is the model the current blockbusters should at least try to emulate, but like Star Trek, they don't appear to follow any of these formulas. They go straight to chaos and get the camera way too close to the action, before ultimately ending with, yawn, another hero saved from the edge of a precipice when his buddy impales the bad guy who's taking his sweet time sending the hero to his death. I can't even remember any of the fighting moves in the scene pictured above. Sulu drew his sword and then it just devolved into madness. Whether, as you say, that was really the result of Abrams trying to do too much, I don't know. But it didn't work either way. For that matter, neither did the bar fight in Iowa. A couple of shoves, chaos, and all of a sudden he's on his back getting pounded (which he cleaned up from nicely, didn't he?), though I guess most people would say that's how a real fight happens.

    Anyway, this is an epic comment and I don't want others to think they have to engage with our lengthy chatter. If you have a simple thought or an example of a recent good fight, let's hear it.

  5. You realize don't you it's massively uncool not to want to buy this movie flowers and ask it out on a date?

    Needless to say, I share your ennui though it sounds like for different reasons. You're right about the fighting though. I remember the platforms, but I don't remember a single action on top of them. Kirk and Sulu might as well have been planting daisies.

    Except for a single special effect, the implosion of Vulcan, there wasn't a single "wow, did you see that?" moment in the film for me.

    There are a million things to nitpick and people will just say "relax, it's just a summer movie. It's supposed to be fun." Except it's not. For me a great summer movie sends you out of the theater buzzing over something you haven't seen before. I never found that with Star Trek.

    Having said all that, I thought they did a great job with all the characters and now that the origin stories are all out of the way, hopefully the next one will allow them to hit the ground running.

  6. Layer Cake has one of my favorite fight sequences from recent films. The first person perspective and the great sound editing really are what sell this scene.

  7. Yeah, Craig, I'm on an island here but pleased to bring you on shore if only for a visit. And if Kirk and Sulu would have planted daisies, well at least that would have been memorable. And pretty!

    I definitely understand that Star Trek is a "summer movie" and that it wouldn't be received nearly as well in mid-December, but I don't think that should be an automatic pass, as I theorize was given to Pineapple Express last year. But hey, Star Trek is a harmless movie. I'd much rather people be excited about this than Saw VII or another superhero movie.

    Matt, thanks for reason #63 why I need to see that movie again. It's five years old in my head and I completely forgot that scene. Kind of ruins my point about punching the camera in the third-to-last paragraph here. Also cool that "Ordinary World" is backing a beatdown.

  8. I like fight scenes that are clear and suspenseful but that are done with creative cinematography and/or a visual element that pumps up the effect.

    Favorite fights:
    -The climactic sword duel in The Count of Monte Cristo (2002) - between - shot in a field of swirling wheat.
    -The duels in Ridley Scott's The Duellists-Lightsaber duel between Luke and Darth in The Empire Strikes Back - the fight is separated by tense intervals when they seek each other out - and it includes great surprises: Luke flying out the window; Luke losing his hand.
    -The assegai versus bayonet sparring between the character of Hook and multiple Zulus in Zulu and the suspense comes because he is holding off the Zulus as his comrades hack desperately through the wall to get to the next room.
    -The javelin duel between Plummer and Boyd in The Fall of the Roman Empire.
    -The fistfight between Ladd and Heflin in Shane - with the fight causing the livestock to freak out and nearly trample them.
    -Climactic duel between Achilles and Hector in TroyThe Crouching Tiger school of fight scenes leaves me cold. They are artistic - and visually mesmerizing but not suspenseful (and they often go on too long).

  9. Jason's first comment is pitch-perfect, and I'm sorry, but I agree with it more than the post itself.

    Funny, I made a comment in my review of Star Trek about the action (as it related to the constant motion of the camera mixed with the aforementioned bazillion-cuts), but I was looking hard for things to critique. Really, the fight scene on the platform lasts for all of 2 minutes, so yeah, I'm fine with giving it a pass.

    My larger issue (even beyond hand-held cameras/over-cutting, which I abhor, especially in the last two Bourne movies) is with everyone making the characters in their films martial artists. This just didn't happen 15 years ago; the only people that were martial artists were...martial artists. I'd like to blame The Matrix for really exploding this issue, but the truth is that it was in the works long before that, cause by all of those films that were actually about martial artists. Naturally, it all comes back to JCVD and Seagal.

    I don't have a list of recent fights that I love or anything, but the Bourne comments remind me that I really enjoyed the fight from the first Bourne that took place in his apartment (aka the Pen Fight).

  10. Thanks for those examples, hokahey. I've not seen Monte Cristo or The Duelists, but since the latter is done by Ridley Scott, that's a good sign. I thought the Colosseum combat was excellent in Gladiator, as I mentioned. And I also agree about Crouching Tiger (and for that matter, Kill Bill) - those don't really get the blood going, so to speak.

    Fletch, no need to apologize, but without an example of a recent good fight, you do agree with the post! :-P

    Interesting point about the martial arts craze. I didn't consider that and I think it does have to do with The Matrix. Speaking of martial arts, though, and Jackie Chan - is there any good fighting in the Rush Hour movies? I've only seen the first and don't remember much.

    And how about the recent JCVD movie, "JCVD"? Everybody raved about it, but I wasn't sure if that was because of the action or the comedy or the acting or what.

    Either way, aside from Bourne we're still sitting on Troy, a solid 5 years ago...

  11. ST's not my thing.

    But I just thought of a favourite fight scene.

    There's an awesomely suspenseful, gorgeously choreographed fencing scene between TONY CURTIS (THE GREAT LESLIE) and ROSS MARTIN (BARON VON SCHTUPP) in BLAKE EDWARDS' THE GREAT RACE.

    There's an incredible amount of build up and LOTS OF TENSION.

    Fabulous 60s comedy. I've been beating the drums about it at CP for a bit now. I know my girl Pat (from DOODAD KIND OF TOWN) has seen it and loves it too. Probably Craig has as well. But I don't know offhand if he digs it or not. We've never discussed it.

    Apparently TONY and ROSS were big fencing enthusiasts OFF screen. So the scene plays as entirely authentic.

    As I'm aware that very few people have seen this film and it's decades old, I won't be concerned about spoilers.

    When it's apparent that he's going to lose, the Baron throws his sword at Leslie and bails.

    LESLIE: Running away, Baron?
    BARON: As a very wise man once said, those who fight and run away may live to fight another day. Until another day, Mr. Leslie...Now I have someone waiting for me.

    They're in a high tower in a castle surrounded by a lake. A man is anticipating the Baron's arrival in a small boat directly outside the building. The Baron jumps from the wide open window...and the impact breaks the boat into a million pieces.


  12. Thank you for giving me a reason not to see this movie!

    Unfortunately, I think poor physical ability is masked by editing and the whole shaky cam thing. If you watch some of the Shaw Brothers films, you get middle range shots that run upwards of ten seconds per shot. It's really amazing. Even when you get two guys who can actually fight (check out the scene between Wu Jing and Donnie Yen in Sha Po Lang) the camera usually doesn't linger too long and can't resist at least some special effects.

    JCVD is great, but not for the fighting.

  13. Why can't everything be filmed like the shoot-out scene in "Heat" or the long hammer fight scene in "Oldboy"? ...

    Because not everything is "Heat" or "Oldboy."

    Honestly, I don't think you should give ST a pass because it's "just a summer movie" but it IS just a summer movie. And, compared to the execrable Wolverine movie, it plays like Kurosawa.

  14. I didn't see Wolverine, but I think Rick nails it. As I noted on another blog (I think), I got bored just watching the trailer for the Transformers sequel. That's not a joke. It seemed endless. G.I. Joe, too. (You know a trailer fails to connect when they add that last bit of action after the intertitle page with the release date and credits, and a packed theater excited to see Star Trek sits absolutely still and doesn't make a sound. Crickets.)

    So is the bar lower for Star Trek, sure? But of its blockbuster genre, it's an imperfect hit.

    One other note while I'm here: In my original comment, my "brawl" reference was to the oh-so-blah sword duel, not the actual brawl in the bar, in which Kirk does suffer punishment ... quite a bit. Poor wording there, on my part.

    As for the whole fight vs. dance argument, I think both options are worthy and entertaining in their own ways (if not for everyone). But I think the balletic fight (Kill Bill, to use a previous example) has to be pretty awesome to wow the audience. The novelty of those fights from The Matrix and Crouching Tiger days -- when more meant actually more -- has worn off.

    And Fletch makes a great point about how everyone is Bruce Lee now. Heck, even pandas know kung fu. Someday the fad will pass, but for now it tends to be tedious. Suspense never goes out of style, and most fights today don't have that.

  15. Miranda, you just may win the day with that selection. Here it is, just as you described. Don't see much of that these days. Now if only Sulu would have gone up against Leslie...

    Kathie, I assume you're talking about this scene, and you get a pass for Asian cinema since that's pretty much right in your wheelhouse. Perfect points on the mid-range and choreography, too. That was crazy intense, and our most recent one yet - 2005!

    Rick, not enough movies these days are described as "execrable". Thank you.

    Jason, if there's anything worse than poorly filmed fighting scenes between humans, it's poorly filmed fighting scenes between robots. That urban battle at the end of the first Transformers should come with a warning label for those with a propensity to seizure.

    And yes, Kirk does get hammered in the bar, but a beating like that would probably leave more than just a couple of nicely placed scuffs on his cheek. Give him a purple eye for a few days at the very least.

    It pains to admit that Kung Fu Panda overplayed the kung fu aspect because I loved that movie. At least it was set in an appropriate place with an appropriate story. It wasn't like it was called Kung Fu Panda and set in the dank alleyways of Cleveland.

  16. I am almost finished with the first draft of my Star Trek review. I'm already at about 3 pages. I'm off to the gym but I will say this quickly: Nero is flat, the first twenty minutes are the best in the film, the ending is trite, the use of Leonard Nimoy is weak and the musical score is average.

    First Contact, Generations, Wrath of Khan, Signs, Dark City: The Director's Cut are all better than this film.

  17. Of your points I would most agree with Nero and Nimoy. From the ship to the motives to the look of the Romulans, I was underwhelmed. And the Spock winkingness was a cute gimmick, but I think it might have taken away from a fresher storyline.

  18. Thanks so much for that, Danny.


    I didn't realize that that clip from THE GREAT RACE was available on YOUTUBE.

    God, I love that movie...

  19. My pleasure. YouTube can be a treasure trove sometimes - I can't believe I found a bunch of the fights listed here. Too bad there's no way to embed videos as comments, at least that I'm aware of.

  20. I feel terrible telling you this, sugar pie...

    Over at WORDPRESS (home, of course, to CP - and naturally NICKY'S thoroughly awesome FATACULTURE, CRAIG'S brilliant LIVING IN CINEMA etc.), we're all going through a massive upheaval of sorts.

    There have been a lot of recent big changes in terms of inputting information at our respective sites, along with brand new choices for different themes, various bits of knowledge that they have provided to us to make everything run more smoothly and on and on...

    They take excellent care of us over there. They provide with all these new bells and whistles on a regular basis...and in return they're always around to help us understand what the hell to do with them.

    So I hate to tell you this. But in the interest of full disclosure, well...

    They have just figured out a way to let us embed videos (and stuff that approximates that) in comments. I don't know if I'll ever do it, though.

    A lot of it drives me up the wall, frankly.

    Takes you so long to find the perfect clip from YOUTUBE. When you do, it's not always possible to keep it on site for whatever reason.

    But it's good to know just in case you ever decide to do it.

    Danny, I realize you are currently in the midst of an intense aesthetic makeover at GETAFILM.

    But maybe in a couple of years or so you may consider joining us over on the dark side.

    Beats the hell out of Blogger.

    Or so I hear...

  21. There's a lot of Blogger hate out there, some of it deserved, but I need to ask this and/or get correction from you WP people.

    I have an account with them and even contemplated (and took some steps towards) moving the LAMB to WP some months back. That was, until I learned that you can't manually hack into pretty much anything without buying "credits" towards something or other. Free blog, but you gotta pay if you want to make changes to even simple things as sidebar width or something?

    No thanks. I'll stick with Blogger and hack up my html/css/whatever all I want.

  22. Fletch, what you referred to is PARTLY true. I'll try to give you some clear cut examples by way of explanation.

    So please bear with me...

    Any blog at WP is essentially free. Almost everything that you could conceivably do with it (or want to do with it) would not be something you would be charged for.

    When I decided to get my own website just over a year ago (and elected to get started at WP), I was a complete novice. I am not (and never will be) a techie. I'm good at some things.

    But essentially I'm a person with above average computer skills. Aside from some graphics and word processing abilities, my background with technology is fairly unremarkable.

    I was happy to find out that beginning from Ground Zero was a snap. That was a genuine relief. I just wanted to write and be able to devote my time to that with no distractions. I didn't have any conception of how to get it going technically. The fact that it was so easy was fantastic. Support is always around if you need them for backup. But I had to contact them on a very infrequent basis.

    I have never paid a dime for anything.

    Basically you are only charged for fancy stuff. Like customization. You have so many choices available to you in every single area. You would only end up paying for specific things that you personally felt that you really wanted.

    Here's a specific situation...

    I don't know what they call them in Blogger. (Probably the same thing...) But WP has a wide variety of "themes" to choose from. Themes are the aesthetic platforms that you choose for the sites that effectively give them the outward appearance and look that you want.

    WP has literally PAGES of themes for you to choose from. All of them are free. But if you didn't want to go with one of those for whatever reason, then you would get dinged.

    Essentially you only pay for high toned stuff that's over and above. If you wanted your own domain, then naturally you would have to purchase that too.

    I have no experience with Blogger. People on Blogger have complained to me over time about its limitations in some aspects. I haven't heard one complaint concerning WP.

    Fletch, if you're highly technically proficient and you want to be able to do what you want with no limitations at all, you may be much happier with Blogger at the end of the day.

    But I've never had a moment of regret for choosing WP. I've rarely had any difficulties in the last year...and if I've ever needed anything Support has always been there to help me.


    Totally up to you. But I think you comprehend exactly what you need in terms of freedom and the way you want to run your site.

    Blogger may actually be the better bet for you.

  23. Wow, Miranda, don't feel bad at all about sharing that. It's pretty interesting, actually, and raises my hopes that Blogger and/or Blogger hackers will follow suit in due time. And although I started this bad boy with Blogger, I soon looked at WP as an alternative. Tragically, these people have completely wasted what Getafilm might have been (bizarrely, WordPress does not recycle domain names).

    But in the meantime over the past couple of years, I've found enough to like about Blogger, including, as Fletch mentions, the customization. I still don't know nearly enough html language to really do much or fix much (a lot of the tweaks with this new "You might like these stories" have to do with my ineptness), but for the most part I'm finding my way.

    And this may be a dirty rumor, but early on I thought I heard something about Blogger's being in bed with Google helping SEO/search results, making Blogger blogs rank higher. Most likely untrue, but it helps me sleep at night.

  24. Ah, I see you snuck in with more while I was responding. I didn't know anything about WP's upgrade fees or customer service, so I can't say much about that. However, since I've never tried to contact anyone at Blogger about anything, I can't say much about that, either. Though I do know everything is completely free that I've come across, however limited it might be. Certainly there are a lot more and, I've thought at different times, a lot nicer design templates with WP. I kind of look at them like PCs and Macs. WP is like a Mac, with sleek things built in, Blogger is like a PC, dull but dependable with room to play around.

  25. "Tragically,these people have completely wasted what GETAFILM might have been..."

    That ends that, I suppose.

    Those moronic jackasses. Danny, that's terrible. But at least they have good taste in names...

    You're not inept in any respect, sweetie.

    You're extraordinary...and so is your site.

    I said so - and I know...

  26. Thank you, M. I should challenge those Germans to a well choreographed fight. The spoils? Full rights to

    And the undercard would be a bout against Dmitry in Belarus, who is stubbornly holding onto

    Now, how to film these fights...

  27. Maybe you could do some fencing, Danny...?

  28. Only if I get to run around a room and swing from a chandelier or something.

  29. Wow, a fascinating thread for sure!

    I am a lifelong Trekkie, so perhaps I am bias, but this new STAR TREK revival is nonetheless the best in the series by a distance. Apart from the fight/battle scenes covered most exhaustively here, there's the matter of the superlative interplay of the crew's beloved characters, terrific performances by Quinto, Pine, et al, and a compelling 'Alternate Universe' plot line. The film doesn't have a staggering 96% RT cumulative and scads of 100's on MC for no reason, and ultra-favorable assessments from the likes of Manhola Dargis, Stephanie Zaharek and Christopher Orr contibute mightily to this amazing celebration. I would have never believed this kind of film would vie as the best of the year so far, but there you have it.

    Nonetheless, your impeccable examination deserves unreserved praise, and I can't say this is every single person's cup of tea.

  30. I went off even more than you did on Star Trek Daniel. ( The boring fight scene on top of the mining drill is something I could have talked about but since I saw the pic in your review, I knew you did so I decided not to. Maybe I will put it in anyway since I could easily reference the battle on the antenna array in First Contact involving The Borg. Far more interesting and creative. There was a lot of build up to the mining drill fight scene and then...meh.

    "A recent notable exception is Paul Greengrass, particularly in his direction of the instantly classic fight scene in Tangiers in The Bourne Ultimatum."

    I have been holding off on the other Bourne films until I read the book(s). The excellent TV movie based on the first film got me interested.

    "Compare this to fight scenes in The Dark Knight, Prince Caspian, Quantum of Solace and Watchmen, for example, and you may get some idea of what I'm talking about."

    I prefer the fight scenes in Batman Begins myself and the fact that the ninjas , including The Bat, move so fast (they have to) some of their movements are quickened and blurred.

    "Ten years later, I feel like we're almost to a point where some director will simply have the actors start punching the camera lens, because that would be so intense, man."


    "What was the last really great fight scene, anyway? And by "great" I mean creative, choreographed, well paced, engaging, and above all, well filmed."

    Chrysalis, a french action film, was the last film I saw with some of the stipulations you have set forth. It looks like the fighting style in that film is Wing Chun, the style Bruce Lee's teacher, Ip Man, was a Grand Master of.

    @Joseph B. That hammer scene is fantastic.

    @Craig and Daniel. Being a summer movie should be no pass at all. Cinderalla Man was released at the wrong time, during the summer, yet is a great film regardless. If Star Trek were at that level, it could be released ANYTIME and be recognized for what it is. For us like-minded individuals, it is being recognized for what it is. BTW, I thought JVCD was good. (

    @Miranda Wilding. That fencing scene is great. Good pick. I like the dialog before the fight begins as well.

    @Kathy Smith. Great scene. I never saw SPL before but now its on my watch list. You should check out Ip Man (, another great fight film staring Donny Yen was outstanding fight scenes. Shaw Bros. films are great. Now I'm thinking of Master Killers, dammit.

    I hated the fight scenes in Transformers. The machines are supposed to be soldiers yet employ no strategies during combat. They just shot at each other.

    There is a way to embed video as comments but you need to be using Intense Debate for your comments instead of your regular program. I have been "debating" whether or not to use it myself. It's free. If you want to see it in action, check out SlashFilm and NerdFellowship. They both use it for Commenting.

    @Miranda Wilding & the rest. You may want to consider buying a domain name and paying for hosting. After that can do whatever you want with your blog, its code, its sidebar(s) , its pages, etc.

  31. Sam, you lay out critical evidence I can't refute, but I agree with you that "I would have never believed this kind of film would vie as the best of the year so far". I really missed the train on what made this above average, but maybe I'll climb aboard if the sequel impresses me.

    Film-Book, wow, what a response. I'll make sure to check out your review.

    I had no idea they even made a TV Bourne movie, but I have heard that the books are pretty excellent.

    I scoured for a clip from Chrysalis but couldn't find it. Did see Ip Man up there and I agree that Kathie should check it out.

    Transformers 2 doesn't appear to offer much more than a bunch of explosions, either, but who knows, I'll probably see it despite myself. I was able to hold off from seeing Wolverine, though.

    As far as comments go, I've considered those systems but just haven't found the need quite yet. I'll keep an eye on them, though.

  32. HA! So glad Gamble posted that clip! It my favorite and have watched it many times over the past few years, Layercake is so underrated and my brothers and I quote it often. "Fucking females is for poofs!" Ha!

    ps......Star Trek was great! Yall should get off your horses and grow down. Be a kid for once! If not, no worries more room in the theatre for the next one, yall can stick with your "Paranoid Park" and Woody Allen misses. LOL, just kidding!

  33. I remember seeing like half of Layer Cake at your place a couple summers ago. But that's still it since the theater. Did we see that in the theater together in the first place, too? Must have in SD in '04.

    Yer gonna be eating your words about Allen in a couple months with Whatever Works, I think. And I'm all about growing down - I just want something I haven't seen before!

  34. Too often in STAR TREK I felt like I was watching the same ol' video game cut scenes. And how many times do people hang from various ledges in ST?

  35. Yes and yes, Christian, though the clichéd ledge-hanging, as noted earlier, unfortunately isn't unique to Star Trek.


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