It would be an unfair generalization to say that fight scenes in Hollywood have become a safe and weightless affair. Nevertheless it is in this writer’s humble, hungover opinion that there is some real truth to that. Instead of achieving greatness through well-planned choreography and meticulously executed stunt work mainstream cinema tends to favour rapid fire cuts and camera trickery. These techniques work to an extent in terms of producing a thrilling kinetic feeling and an illusion of combat, but the viewer’s brain can always see the seams.
Take Rogue One, for example. Rogue One did a lot of things right, and a lot of things wrong. One of the things that typified both sides of that coin was the casting and use of Donnie Yen. If you want hand-to-hand combat, Donnie Yen is one of the most qualified people you could hope to get. So well done, Rogue One, what a casting coup! You got Yen! And then you cast him as a blind, Force-sensitive monk who fights with a staff! Double points for you, Rogue One!
Aaaaaand then his fight scenes (or just that main one on Jedha, really, as the rest of them were mostly firefights) were filmed in the same generic fast cut, impact-masking way as they are for any old pampered A-list star who can’t be bothered to put in the blood, sweat, and tears needed for a real fight scene. (Don’t worry, Keanu, you’re still golden.) Tut, tut, Rogue One. Tut. Tut. You cast Yen. You should’ve let him be Yen.
This is all to say that outside of mainstream cinema — outside of cinema even — there is some real shit floating about that could teach the Yen-hampering Rogue One a lesson.
Case in point: this ad for some tea filmed by a group called Team Red Productions.
Check this shit out, but be careful — your cheeks will hurt from the grin that’ll bloom:
Actual choreography and a real sense of space!
Shots that last for more than half a second!
Things striking other things!
Someone’s been reading their Jackie Chan fight scene cookbook!
And thank fuck for that!
Here’s another offering from Team Red:
Look, I know that the soup video was technically made at the tail end of 2016, but I’m calling it now: outside of maybe John Wick 2, that’s gonna be the most fun and well put together fight scene of the year.