Podcast: Ross And Phil Talk… Tarantino & Once Upon A Time In Hollywood: The Whole Bloody Affair

Podcast: Ross And Phil Talk… Tarantino & Once Upon A Time In Hollywood: The Whole Bloody Affair

Ross and Phil Talk Movies The Podcasts

On this episode of the podcast we combine BOTH our recent Quentin Tarantino/ Once Upon A Time In Hollywood podcasts into the one super long episode it was always meant to be.  Yes ladies and gents this is: Ross And Phil Talk… Tarantino & Once Upon A Time In Hollywood: The Whole Bloody Affair

Hosted by Award winning filmmaker Ross Boyask and blogger/writer/failed former filmmaker Phil Hobden.

Discussed: Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, Jackie Brown, Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, Kill Bill, Quentin Tarantino, Margot Robbie, Bruce Lee, Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Serenity, Ma

For more on Ross Boyask search @RossBoyask on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. Also check out @EvoFilmsUK online.

For more on Phil Hobden check out www.philhobden.co.uk , Twitter (@PhilQuickReview) and Instagram (RossAndPhilTalkMovies

#RossAndPhil #RossAndPhilTalkMovies #MoviePodcasts #Podcasts

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Podcast: Ross And Phil Talk… Once Upon A Time In Hollywood (Spoilers) 

Podcast: Ross And Phil Talk… Once Upon A Time In Hollywood (Spoilers) 

Ross and Phil Talk Movies The Podcasts

On this episode of the podcast we talk Once Upon A Time In Hollywood as Ross has finally seen it.  And shocker… he liked it. A Lot.  Could this be Tarantino back on form? Warning: Spoilers ahead.

Hosted by Award winning filmmaker Ross Boyask and blogger/writer/failed former filmmaker Phil Hobden.

Discussed: Once Upon A Time In Hollywood, Jackie Brown, Pulp Fiction, Reservoir Dogs, Kill Bill, Quentin Tarantino, Margot Robbie, Bruce Lee, Leonardo DiCaprio, Brad Pitt, Serenity, Ma, Angel Has Fallen, Speed, He Who Dares Wins, White House Down, Dragons Forever, Joker, IT, Silence, The Irishman, The Last Movie Star

For more on Ross Boyask search @RossBoyask on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook. Also check out @EvoFilmsUK online.

For more on Phil Hobden check out www.philhobden.co.uk , Twitter (@PhilQuickReview) and Instagram (RossAndPhilTalkMovies

#RossAndPhil #RossAndPhilTalkMovies #MoviePodcasts #Podcasts

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Blog: Jeff Imada – Stunt Legend (Interview)

Blog: Jeff Imada – Stunt Legend (Interview)

All Things Film Blog The Blogs

Question for you…. what do TANGO & CASH, IN HER SHOES & TREMORS all have in common? Well apart from the fact they all feature in my DVD collection (Let me assure you ‘In Her Shoes’ is more down to my fiancé than me!) they also, and more relevantly, feature stunts or fight coordination by Jeff Imada. And whilst Imada may not be a name you instantly recognise, you have certainly seen his work.

Let me quantify that statement. A friend of mine in the States was recently sat watching TV. Uninspired by the latest reality TV show he starts channel hopping. First channel he switches onto – ‘Big Trouble In Little China’, featuring a quick appearance of stunt man, actor and fight coordinator Jeff Imada. Turns over the channel to a Master Card advert which happens to once again feature Jeff Imada. Turns over again Heroes. There he is again – Jeff Imada. Another channel. 24. Jeff Imada. And that was just one advert break. But then again when your resume includes over 150 films and TV shows chances are most days at least something that Imada worked on will be screening.

Jeff Imada was born and raised in Inglewood, California, USA, where he began studying martial arts at the age of fifteen. While in college studying medicine, he started working as a movie “extra” which lead him through to stunt work and eventually some years later fight and stunt coordination. Today Imada is a member of highly regarded US stunt team Stunts Unlimited and one of the most respected men in the industry.

In the past 25 years alone he has worked along side directors as John Carpenter, David Fincher, The Coen Brothers and Tony Scott and choreographed, worked with or appeared alongside Mel Gibson, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Brandon Lee, Nicolas Cage, Steven Seagal Clint Eastwood, Stallone, Eddie Murphy… the list goes on. And on.

Impact: When was the defining moment where you diced you wanted to do this for a living… when DO you say I want to throw myself off high buildings for a living?

Imada: Ever since I tripped off that building as a kid… (laughs) I‘ve always loved athletic, things that involved movement, being physical. I started my life studying medical, science and heading into a career in that field through high school and college. But when I was in college and getting closer to graduating a friend off mine sort of got me involved in the movie industry one summer. I got to watch a lot of the stunt guys doing their thing and I though it looked pretty cool to do. I had an interest in the acting which steamed from back to junior and high school doing the stage aspects and on top of that my father and grandfather were photographers so without knowing it I was kind of influenced from the start to get involved in the industry.

Impact: Did you have any specific inspirations growing up?

Imada: Bruce Lee Obviously. But also I grew up with John Wayne movies and in another respect Fred Astaire & Gene Kelly because it’s all movement, movement in a very accomplished manor. I really enjoyed watching those films. A lot of the old Hong Kong movies as well – the Samurai films, Yojimbo, Seventh Samurai were all an influence to me. All of these different films and different styles have been synthesised into bringing out what you see on in my work on the big screen today. I wanted to dig a bit further into Imada’s background. After all he didn’t start his career looking towards movies. After all whilst at t El Camino College and UCLA, he majored in pre-med and minored in music. Neither of which says stunt man or fight coordinator.

Impact: How does your background inform your work?
Imada: I have a music background and so I incorporate music, rhythms & timing in what I do. It’s all utilised for my action pieces. Keeping true with the characters and making sure whatever they do as the character is key. I need to know that I’m not creating something that won’t take the audience out of the experience. Its really important… Any type of action that the characters are doing is, to me, is another way of doing dialogue. So if you want to stray true to the characters, goes hand in hand with verbal dialogue.

Imada nails in for sure. After all how many times have we laughed at Steven Seagal who, with his very grounded fighting style, occasionally ends up jumping off walls and performing kicks men half his age would struggle with. Imada continues…


Imada: There was actually a project with Steven that I was called me about. But this time they wanted Steven to do some wire work. Knowing Steven I asked them ‘Does Steven know that?’.” Imada laughs remembering back to the conversation, “Talking to them some more I wanted to know in what manor the wire work was going to be used. Was it to enhance something or is it to deify gravity because I don’t know if the audience is going to accept that otherwise! And on top of that I don’t even know if Steven WANTED to do that. I understand that the studio thinks it’s cool to do all of that stuff because it’s the trend and all but certain people are known for certain ways of fighting so to take it into a different context when it’s not a fantasy type film… you have to watch that line of believability!

Impact: What’s you take on the advent of Wire Work in US and mainstream films?
Imada: Don’t get me wrong I can appreciate the Matrix style wire work and special effects but in the right place. For a while the audience was burnt out with this technique– movies, TV it was everywhere… It’s funny but before Matrix I was trying to convince people to do use wire work in scenes and they’d look at me and say “Wires? What? What are you talking about…”. After The Matrix comes out everyone’s asking me” Can you do any of that wire stuff!” There’s an interesting story I was told from Woo Ping from the filming of the movie Sand Pebbles. Loren Janes (legendary stunt and action performer) went to over to Asia to work on the film and, according to Woo Ping, it was HIM that introduced wire stuff and the mini trampoline to them!!! Before Sand Pebbles the Chinese never did that. He showed them a little wire set up with piano wire and also mini tramps… so it’s interesting that all the Hong Kong acrobatics and wire stuff came from him, from that movie. It was the first time they ever did it. He took that to the Hong Kong, which in turn created an industry and only now has come back full circle…

On the subject of Seagal, it wasn’t long before we ended up off topic again as I recalled a conversation with Cage Rage and Pride Fight Commentator Stephen Quadros who once told me a great story about Seagal and how, on meeting people for the first time, has a special trick where he likes to sneakily kick you in the groin. Knowing that Imada and Segal have a history together I just had to pose the question on the validity of the story. 
Imada: Yeah that’s kind of true (Imada shares a sly laugh before continuing) Stevens a funny character… I’ve known him a long time and he’s pretty funny that way. When guys work with him for the first time I tell them when ever your meeting Steven as a stunt guy you need to work out. They always look at me as if to say “Really?” and I just say work out, trust me on this because maybe he’s horsing around but if you put your guard down he’ll nail you and when he does you’ll know it!

Impact: Obviously you seem to have an excellent relationship with John Carpenter, you’ve worked on a quiet a few of his films, what is it about him that keeps you coming back for more?
Imada: He keeps asking me back! Which is nice… I appreciate that! John’s a great guy and I’ve been very fortunate to work with him. I’m a fan as well… in college I remember watching previews of The Thing thinking wow that looks like a cool film. I thought I’d love to meet him one day… so years later meeting John, working with him on Big Trouble In Little China and to play a part in the film was awesome.

Like Imada I have always been a massive fan of Carpenter. Big Trouble In Little China is one of my favourite Carpenter fans. That and They Live. In fact the fight between Keith David and Roddy Piper in They Live is, for me, by far one of the greatest Man-o on Man-o fights I have ever seen. Just so happens that the man who choreographed this was sat right in front of me.

Impact: You choreographed the infamous fight in They Live, which for sure is my favourite fight scene of all time…
Imada: I love that fight. You know that the version you see now has at least another 50 seconds cut from it. At least. Roddy and Keith did a great job. I been fortunate that since Big Trouble John has asked me to coordinate ever one of his project’s but to be involved in They Live was especially great because he called me up and said “Hey Young Man, I’ve got a script for you”, (Laughing) John always calls me young man even though we’re not THAT far apart. He started talking about the old John Wayne films with the big long fights, he wanted to recreate that with two big guys going toe to toe… So I take a look at the script and there was something about the glasses being thrown down and then the page says “The Fight begins”. I turn the page it says “The Fight Continues”. I flip the page again “The Fight Still Continues”. After a few pages it says “The Fight concludes”! John looked at me and says “You know what to do so cerate it for me!” and that was it. “Show me what you got”.

Impact: Did Carpenter want anything specific in the scene?

Imada: He only asked me to include three things, three wrestling moves. A suplex, a closeline and a side walk slam. Other than that I had free reign. So it was a great opportunity to create an amazing scene where two big guys fight for six minutes straight. John allowed me to add the character moments, moments about the glasses, their friendship… to create the whole scene.

Impact: What was Carpenter’s reaction when he saw what you put together?
Imada: John liked what I did, the highs and the lows of the character, the extra dialogue I threw in, the character moments so it made it more believable so at the end when Keith finally puts on the glasses you really buy it.

Impact: How long did you have to film the fight?
Imada: Not long. Two, two and half days. We had blocked it out and rehearsed it at John’s house in his backyard! The actors did everything themselves. With Roddy we had to tone him down a little because he’s used to doing fights BIG for a live audience so we had to bring him in a bit so it wasn’t so unbelievable. We shot the fight in a parking lot. But the whole place was padded. Which people don’t realise. So if the actors fell down or into something they had a soft landing that wasn’t on concrete. Just made to look like it! It was very subtle so no one has ever picked up on it!

Impact: So was ‘They Live’ the first time a director had turned around to you and said “Here’s five minutes of screen time… fill it”?
Imada: Yeah mostly. Possibly this happened a little more when I was doing TV work but it’s a very different time wise. For me They Live was great because, at the end of the day, I create violence for a living. I often kid the guys saying “ all we do is make violence for a living” We not there to help were always there to hurt! I never get called to chorograph a romantic love scene!

Another interesting fact about Jeff Imada is that he, along with such industry luminaries such as Vic Armstrong, Glenn Wilder and David Ellis, serves on the Blue Ribbon committee for the ‘stunt OSCARS’ The Taurus Awards. The Taurus Awards were set as primarily to honour the movie industry’s unsung heroes – the world’s best stunt professionals. Something the OSCAR’S so far have failed to do.

Impact: What are your thoughts on the academies failure to recognise stunt and action performers?

Imada: It’s interesting when you look at the awards. They acknowledge every other department – hair, make up, CGI, technology advancements, shorts but they don’t acknowledge the stunt people, stunt coordinators or the action people and yet it’s an integral part of a lot of these movies. It’s been brought up with the head of the academy and it’s been passed to me , second hand so I’m not sure if it’s absolutely true or not but its been told to me that in conversation the guy said “you guys are not and will not ever be considered for the academy awards”. But everyone else is acknowledged so why not us?

Impact: Was this something you have tried to rectify with your involvement with the Taurus awards?
Imada: Its important to acknowledge people for their accomplishments but the concern is you also don’t want people to take undue risks to get that accomplishment or award. To do it to a high level is great and to be acknowledged for that even better. A second unit director is given a whole unit to shoot and direct, we are involved with the actors… creating scenes that fit in with the characters, hand in hand with telling the story in a physical manor. Your creating something ever time your on set. With the actors. The camera angles. Now it has been said to me that there is an argument to say that we are just management, that we don’t do anything thing creative so why should you be acknowledged. Well if that’s the case why do these same guys ask us how to do this or that or ask us what we should do here or what the character would do or how they would react?

Impact: Do you think this will change?

Imada: I do. In the past we were the silent minority, hired to make the actors look good. Very much in the background/ They didn’t want to acknowledge it was us, the stunt men, because they could say it was all them and the actor would look better because of it but the transition is happening now and the actors are starting to acknowledge the stunt people more, our impact, importance and how we enhance what they do.
Imada has seen the industry change dramatically from when he started back in the early eighties. From the heights and boom of the cheaply made Cannon films of the 80’s through to wire heavy work of the The Matrix and the advent and proliferation of CGI. Most recently the industry has gone full circle, turning back to the more realistic hardcore action of 80’s Hong Kong.

Impact: Ong Bak has taken the action industry in a dramatically different direction., making things more real again. What’s your take on this most recent evolution?
Imada: 
When that film first came I remember watching it think “wow, that’s refreshing!”. Its back to reality based physicality of movement which is what inspired me in the first place… that combination between Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan. Jaa has an intensity, an acrobatic ability and not having wires involved makes you really appreciate us as a human species and what we can accomplish. It’s just awesome! I met Tony, he’s a really nice, humble guy…

 

And with that my time was very much up. Jeff Imada turned out to be truly one of the easiest and most enjoyable people I have ever interviewed. With a wealth of knowledge gained from his experiences both in front and behind the camera, his twenty plus years working in the industry and over 150 credits to his name I could have spent a whole day with him and still not scratch the surface of his illustrious career. What start started as a press interview, quickly turned into a conversation about films not unlike those I would have with friends I have known for years… although I guess the real difference being that none of them have worked on ‘They Live’!

For more on the Taurus Awards check out www.taurusworldstuntawards.com

Interview by: Phil Hobden

Originally published in Impact Magazine 

Allied – A Quick Capsule Review

Allied – A Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
Allied has moments of being the film the creatives (and the audience) wanted it to be.  Sadly be it the uncomfortable chemistry between Pitt and Cotillard, the laboured story which doesn’t get anywhere quick or the tone which just doesn’t sit right, the film never fully delivers on its considerable promise.

IT looks lovely but then you’d expect that from a director of the calibre of Zemeckis.  So in the end far from essential.

Best Bit: The assassination

Buy, Stream, Avoid: Stream

If You Liked this Try: Inglorious Bastards, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Hacksaw Ridge

IMDB Rating: 

 

Author: Phil Hobden

Blog: Fury – A Quick Capsule Review

Blog: Fury – A Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
Fury is brutal, bloody and at times hard to watch.  It’s also flawed, a bit long and, at times, silly.  Thankfully the good outweighs the bad at you are left with a shocking portrayal of a mostly unheralded part of World War 2.

Best Bit: Battle Scenes

Buy, Rent, Stream, Borrow: Rent

If You Liked this Try: Saving private Ryan, Black Hawk Down, Kajaki

 

Author: Phil Hobden

Blog: Grosse Point Geek -Fury Reviewed

Blog: Grosse Point Geek -Fury Reviewed

A Blog Grosse Point Geek Uncategorized

Set in April 1945 when World War 2 was coming to an end and the allied forces were marching into Germany, Fury centres on a battle hardened tank crew, led by Pitt’s aptly monikered ‘Wardaddy’ and consisting of Lerman’s green as grass rookie, Leboeuf’s religious idealist, Pena’s dead shot gunner and Bernthal’s somewhat mentally unstable mechanic.  In recent years films about World War 2 have been few and far between, with many not even seeing the inside of a cinema –  notable exceptions are of course Tarantinos’s Inglorious Bastards and Spielberg’s Saving Private Ryan.

Now anyone who has seen both of these will know that they are pretty much at the opposite ends of the war movie spectrum -whereas Bastards was a  violent “men on a mission” homage, played out like a jet black comedy/drama, Saving Private Ryan was at times an overly worthy effort notable for its incredibly realistic depiction of the Omaha beach landings.

Fury, however, is none of these and as such is likely to be one of the most accurate and unflinching depictions of war that you will ever see on screen.

Acting wise its faultless, in particular, Brad Pitt, who is superb as Wardaddy, brilliantly portraying him as an intelligent man tainted by war and unafraid to kill without mercy.  Then there is ShiaLeboeuf, who effortlessly banishes all memories of Lars Von Trier’s risible Nymphomaniac, to deliver a career best performance that has to be seen to be believed -yes he really is that good (iknow i couldn’t believe it etheir!). The rest of the cast are equally impressive too -John Bernthal and Michael Pena do fantastic work and seem to have completely thrown themselves into their roles,  with young  Logan Lerman finally coming of age with an impressive breakout turn as Norman, the tank’s newest recruit.

David Ayer’s direction is surefooted, refreshingly economical and unflashy, his camerawork making excellent use of the Buckinghamshire countryside which doubles for 1945 Germany. Then there is the action  – mainly consisting of two brutal edge of the seat tank battles and a climactic nail biting do or die fight to the death between the Fury crew and an entire army of Nazi soldiers.

Its not all guns and blood though  – Ayer also skilfully brings in quieter moments allowing for some welcome character development for all the main cast, one scene in particular involving Pitt and Lerman sitting down for a meal with two German women is a particular highlight.

I did have a couple of niggles though , one being that Lerman’s character seems to go from terrified greenhorn to full on warrior mode in a very short space of time and the main characters do seem have more than a certain passing resemblance to those in Saving Private Ryan.

However these are minor criticisms in what is a very well directed, superbly written, brilliantly acted and relentlessly exciting film. Certainly a contender for one of 2014’s best and a must for any serious cinema goer. Highly recommended.

 

 

Author: Will Strong 

 

Review: 12 Years a Slave  (Cinema)

Review: 12 Years a Slave (Cinema)

Other Cr*p Uncategorized

The Review: Chiwetel Ejiofor plays Solomon Northup, a freeman in upstate New York with a wife and two very young children. He’s living the good life and is a passionate musician.

His service in his music capacity is requested by two men who want him to play in a traveling band; they insist it isn’t a circus. He takes them up on the offer. During the trip, he’s drugged and awakes in chains, and shipped to the deep south where he’s sold as a slave to a variety of backward, wayward white men working on their plantations. It’s 1841, and for the next twelve years, Solomon will be stripped of his identity, family, his name and a large quantity of skin off his back courtesy of some of his master’s whips.

Steve McQueen’s film is not an easy one to endure. However, it is fascinating that 12 Years A Slave comes more or less exactly one year after Django Unchained. I am sure Tarantino is breathing a sigh of relief because, if this had been the other way around, Django would have suffered a major parody impact. Slave is based on a novel by Northup himself and everything that plays onscreen, we are in little doubt, is actually quite true. The plantation owners were despicable characters – one in particular named Epps, played by Michael Fassbinder, who truly saw them as property. Epps sees one black girl in particular as an object for lust and decides he has the right to have his wicked way with her. Epp’s wife can sense this abomination and develops an utter hatred for her and, by proxy, most of the others.

Before Northup meets Epps, he spends time working for Master Ford, played by Benedict Cumberbatch. Ford is undeniably the lesser of the two evils. This was a time when the outmoded days of obfuscated interpretations of slavery were beginning to become transparent; these slaves are human beings, too, as they’re beginning to realise. They’re uniquely at odds with the way society views the situation; the altruism and heckled conformity is desperately at odds with the human spirit. Ford and Epps, respectively, make this clear; it’s a matter of luck who you’re born to, and of which stock and colour. It’s then a matter of societal perjury just how damning and downright hostile your next master may be.

Sound familiar? In a sense, yes. We continue to this day to live in a parallel existence. It remains true that we are all an offspring of good fortune. Consider the fact that you are able to read these words on your computer, or iPad. There are those that cannot. The quality of our education is defined by where and to whom we were born; by virtue, our future paths will be informed by this, and we will spend the rest of our adult, working days either following commands or barking them at others. 170 years on, McQueen seems to suggest, we’re still all slaves anyway.
It is a heartfelt and passionate sucker punch of a film. Ejiofor’s Northup embodies a fighter true to his fighting spirit. He is richer than Jamie Fox’s Django, and less pantomime, obviously. A lot of the sets from that film seem to have been used here. But it’s all in the “how” and not the “what”. And it’s done it in forty minutes less time than Tarantino managed. Arguably, the movie’s score is far more alert; mixing music of the time with a more contemporary dramatic lift.

Ah, the comparison here, I’ve decided, to Django Unchained is unfair:- it’s akin to comparing Michael Bay’s Pearl Harbour to Spielberg’s Schindler’s List. The underlying sentiment seems to be there, but the undeniable tour de force from all involved will leave you reeling. 12 Years a Slave is a brutal watch in places; one extremely jarring one-take, camera whirling whipping will take the wind out of your sails.

The final home stretch – in more ways than one – will crack even the hardest nut in the audience. A strong Oscar contender to be absolutely certain – Ejiofor seems to have the phrase “Best Actor” carved into his back with a whip in a sort of perverse 1840s way – but then, I guess, deservedly so. 12 Years a Slave is not perfect, but it is at least earnest, heartfelt and wonderfully performed.

 

Reviewed By: Andrew MacKay

Join the debate on our Facebook Group (www.facebook.com/groups/Filmsploitation) or on our website (www.thefilmpodcast.co.uk)

Will Strong’s Preview Of 2014…

Will Strong’s Preview Of 2014…

A Blog Grosse Point Geek Quick Review

Every year Phil and Will look at what’s grabbing their attention for 2014.   Here’s Will Strong’s pick for the films to look out for in 2014…

    1. Hobbit –There and Back again (cant wait!)
    2. Godzilla (trailer looks amazing)
    3. X Men Days of Future Past (could be brilliant, could be X Men 2 good or could be meh)
    4. Interstellar (Nolan needs to deliver here but will be interesting)
    5. Pompeii (looks fun and its P WS Anderson!)
    6. Robocop (could be very good – trailer is excellent – however the original was so good I cant see this being better )
    7. Hercules The Thracian Wars
    8. Expendables 3 – Gibson, Banderas, Stallone, Arnie, Snipes etc etc  – nuff said!
    9. Fury – sounds like it could be awesome
    10. The Monuments Men – looks very good and lots of fun
    11. Captain America The Winter Soldier – im worried about this one – could be ok but the directors are very untested and are we experiencing too much Marvel output at the moment?
    12. Guardians Of The Galaxy – this will ether be Star Wars meets the Avengers or John Carter meets Dune
    13. Sabotage – looks very action packed plus Arnie is in it
    14. Edge Of Tomorrow – could be very good
    15. The Raid 2  – this could be awesome but how do you top the original?????

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mBwsUD7jYCI

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=INmtQXUXez8

Will Strong’s Round Up of 2013

Will Strong’s Round Up of 2013

A Blog Grosse Point Geek Quick Review

Every year Phil and Will debate the years top (and bottom) films.  Here’s Will Strong’s Best & Worst for 2013.

Best Films

  1. The Hobbit – The Desolation of Smaug (awesome)
  2. Django Unchained (just brilliant)
  3. Rush (outstanding – couldn’t fault it)
  4. Olympus Has Fallen (awesome action film – took me totally by surprise at just how good this was)
  5. The Escape Plan (so much fun, great action and just fantastic entertainment)
  6. Captain Phillips (Hanks and Greengrass back on form)
  7. Thor-The Dark World (Not enough Hiddlestone but a very very good sequel with some top action)
  8. Star Trek Into Darkness (not as good as the 1st one but Cumberbach was brilliant and it was very well made and directed)
  9. World War Z (I really liked it)
  10. Gravity (Most amazing SFX in years – superbly made)

Honorary Mentions

  1. The Last Stand (great fun)
  2. White House Down ( extremely good fun)
  3. Fast and Furious 6 (glorious lunacy)
  4. Cloud Atlas (far better than expected)
  5. Les Miserables (too long but very good nonetheless)
  6. Man of Steel (should have been better but  I enjoyed it)
  7. The Dyatlov Pass Incident (surprisingly good)
  8. The Hunger Games –Catching Fire (almost made my top ten best list – very very good – if a little bit repetitive of the original)
  9. Prisoners (brilliantly acted and kept me guessing till the end)
  10. Gangster Squad (good fun and well made)

Not bad but could have been better

  1. The Wolverine (sounds odd I know but there was too much Wolverine  -it wasn’t exciting enough, too little supporting characters and was a tad too long)
  2. Iron Man 3 (yes you read that right – I said it! – just didn’t connect to this one – despite the very funny script and the hilarious Mandarin reveal)
  3. Jack Reacher (ok but too slow)
  4. Oblivion (wasted opportunity but not bad)

Worst

  1. Pacific Rim
  2. Bullet to The Head
  3. The Councillor
  4. GI Joe Retaliation
  5. A Good Day to Die Hard
  6. Mama
  7. The Evil Dead
  8. The Raven
  9. Texas Chainsaw 3D
  10. Now you see me
From The Vault: Jeff Imada – Stunt Legend

From The Vault: Jeff Imada – Stunt Legend

Uncategorized

Question for you…. what do TANGO & CASH, IN HER SHOES & TREMORS all have in common? Well apart from the fact they all feature in my DVD collection (Let me assure you ‘In Her Shoes’ is more down to my fiancé than me!) they also, and more relevantly, feature stunts or fight coordination by Jeff Imada. And whilst Imada may not be a name you instantly recognise, you have certainly seen his work.

Let me quantify that statement. A friend of mine in the States was recently sat watching TV. Uninspired by the latest reality TV show he starts channel hopping. First channel he switches onto – ‘Big Trouble In Little China’, featuring a quick appearance of stunt man, actor and fight coordinator Jeff Imada. Turns over the channel to a Master Card advert which happens to once again feature Jeff Imada. Turns over again Heroes. There he is again – Jeff Imada. Another channel. 24. Jeff Imada. And that was just one advert break. But then again when your resume includes over 150 films and TV shows chances are most days at least something that Imada worked on will be screening.

Jeff Imada was born and raised in Inglewood, California, USA, where he began studying martial arts at the age of fifteen. While in college studying medicine, he started working as a movie “extra” which lead him through to stunt work and eventually some years later fight and stunt coordination. Today Imada is a member of highly regarded US stunt team Stunts Unlimited and one of the most respected men in the industry.

In the past 25 years alone he has worked along side directors as John Carpenter, David Fincher, The Coen Brothers and Tony Scott and choreographed, worked with or appeared alongside Mel Gibson, Brad Pitt, Matt Damon, Brandon Lee, Nicolas Cage, Steven Seagal Clint Eastwood, Stallone, Eddie Murphy… the list goes on. And on.

Impact: When was the defining moment where you diced you wanted to do this for a living… when DO you say I want to throw myself off high buildings for a living?

Imada: Ever since I tripped off that building as a kid… (laughs) I‘ve always loved athletic, things that involved movement, being physical. I started my life studying medical, science and heading into a career in that field through high school and college. But when I was in college and getting closer to graduating a friend off mine sort of got me involved in the movie industry one summer. I got to watch a lot of the stunt guys doing their thing and I though it looked pretty cool to do. I had an interest in the acting which steamed from back to junior and high school doing the stage aspects and on top of that my father and grandfather were photographers so without knowing it I was kind of influenced from the start to get involved in the industry.

Impact: Did you have any specific inspirations growing up?

Imada: Bruce Lee Obviously. But also I grew up with John Wayne movies and in another respect Fred Astaire & Gene Kelly because it’s all movement, movement in a very accomplished manor. I really enjoyed watching those films. A lot of the old Hong Kong movies as well – the Samurai films, Yojimbo, Seventh Samurai were all an influence to me. All of these different films and different styles have been synthesised into bringing out what you see on in my work on the big screen today. I wanted to dig a bit further into Imada’s background. After all he didn’t start his career looking towards movies. After all whilst at t El Camino College and UCLA, he majored in pre-med and minored in music. Neither of which says stunt man or fight coordinator.

Impact: How does your background inform your work?
Imada: I have a music background and so I incorporate music, rhythms & timing in what I do. It’s all utilised for my action pieces. Keeping true with the characters and making sure whatever they do as the character is key. I need to know that I’m not creating something that won’t take the audience out of the experience. Its really important… Any type of action that the characters are doing is, to me, is another way of doing dialogue. So if you want to stray true to the characters, goes hand in hand with verbal dialogue.

Imada nails in for sure. After all how many times have we laughed at Steven Seagal who, with his very grounded fighting style, occasionally ends up jumping off walls and performing kicks men half his age would struggle with. Imada continues…


Imada: There was actually a project with Steven that I was called me about. But this time they wanted Steven to do some wire work. Knowing Steven I asked them ‘Does Steven know that?’.” Imada laughs remembering back to the conversation, “Talking to them some more I wanted to know in what manor the wire work was going to be used. Was it to enhance something or is it to deify gravity because I don’t know if the audience is going to accept that otherwise! And on top of that I don’t even know if Steven WANTED to do that. I understand that the studio thinks it’s cool to do all of that stuff because it’s the trend and all but certain people are known for certain ways of fighting so to take it into a different context when it’s not a fantasy type film… you have to watch that line of believability!

Impact: What’s you take on the advent of Wire Work in US and mainstream films?
Imada: Don’t get me wrong I can appreciate the Matrix style wire work and special effects but in the right place. For a while the audience was burnt out with this technique– movies, TV it was everywhere… It’s funny but before Matrix I was trying to convince people to do use wire work in scenes and they’d look at me and say “Wires? What? What are you talking about…”. After The Matrix comes out everyone’s asking me” Can you do any of that wire stuff!” There’s an interesting story I was told from Woo Ping from the filming of the movie Sand Pebbles. Loren Janes (legendary stunt and action performer) went to over to Asia to work on the film and, according to Woo Ping, it was HIM that introduced wire stuff and the mini trampoline to them!!! Before Sand Pebbles the Chinese never did that. He showed them a little wire set up with piano wire and also mini tramps… so it’s interesting that all the Hong Kong acrobatics and wire stuff came from him, from that movie. It was the first time they ever did it. He took that to the Hong Kong, which in turn created an industry and only now has come back full circle…

On the subject of Seagal, it wasn’t long before we ended up off topic again as I recalled a conversation with Cage Rage and Pride Fight Commentator Stephen Quadros who once told me a great story about Seagal and how, on meeting people for the first time, has a special trick where he likes to sneakily kick you in the groin. Knowing that Imada and Segal have a history together I just had to pose the question on the validity of the story. 
Imada: Yeah that’s kind of true (Imada shares a sly laugh before continuing) Stevens a funny character… I’ve known him a long time and he’s pretty funny that way. When guys work with him for the first time I tell them when ever your meeting Steven as a stunt guy you need to work out. They always look at me as if to say “Really?” and I just say work out, trust me on this because maybe he’s horsing around but if you put your guard down he’ll nail you and when he does you’ll know it!

Impact: Obviously you seem to have an excellent relationship with John Carpenter, you’ve worked on a quiet a few of his films, what is it about him that keeps you coming back for more?
Imada: He keeps asking me back! Which is nice… I appreciate that! John’s a great guy and I’ve been very fortunate to work with him. I’m a fan as well… in college I remember watching previews of The Thing thinking wow that looks like a cool film. I thought I’d love to meet him one day… so years later meeting John, working with him on Big Trouble In Little China and to play a part in the film was awesome.

Like Imada I have always been a massive fan of Carpenter. Big Trouble In Little China is one of my favourite Carpenter fans. That and They Live. In fact the fight between Keith David and Roddy Piper in They Live is, for me, by far one of the greatest Man-o on Man-o fights I have ever seen. Just so happens that the man who choreographed this was sat right in front of me.

Impact: You choreographed the infamous fight in They Live, which for sure is my favourite fight scene of all time…
Imada: I love that fight. You know that the version you see now has at least another 50 seconds cut from it. At least. Roddy and Keith did a great job. I been fortunate that since Big Trouble John has asked me to coordinate ever one of his project’s but to be involved in They Live was especially great because he called me up and said “Hey Young Man, I’ve got a script for you”, (Laughing) John always calls me young man even though we’re not THAT far apart. He started talking about the old John Wayne films with the big long fights, he wanted to recreate that with two big guys going toe to toe… So I take a look at the script and there was something about the glasses being thrown down and then the page says “The Fight begins”. I turn the page it says “The Fight Continues”. I flip the page again “The Fight Still Continues”. After a few pages it says “The Fight concludes”! John looked at me and says “You know what to do so cerate it for me!” and that was it. “Show me what you got”.

Impact: Did Carpenter want anything specific in the scene?

Imada: He only asked me to include three things, three wrestling moves. A suplex, a closeline and a side walk slam. Other than that I had free reign. So it was a great opportunity to create an amazing scene where two big guys fight for six minutes straight. John allowed me to add the character moments, moments about the glasses, their friendship… to create the whole scene.

Impact: What was Carpenter’s reaction when he saw what you put together?
Imada: John liked what I did, the highs and the lows of the character, the extra dialogue I threw in, the character moments so it made it more believable so at the end when Keith finally puts on the glasses you really buy it.

Impact: How long did you have to film the fight?
Imada: Not long. Two, two and half days. We had blocked it out and rehearsed it at John’s house in his backyard! The actors did everything themselves. With Roddy we had to tone him down a little because he’s used to doing fights BIG for a live audience so we had to bring him in a bit so it wasn’t so unbelievable. We shot the fight in a parking lot. But the whole place was padded. Which people don’t realise. So if the actors fell down or into something they had a soft landing that wasn’t on concrete. Just made to look like it! It was very subtle so no one has ever picked up on it!

Impact: So was ‘They Live’ the first time a director had turned around to you and said “Here’s five minutes of screen time… fill it”?
Imada: Yeah mostly. Possibly this happened a little more when I was doing TV work but it’s a very different time wise. For me They Live was great because, at the end of the day, I create violence for a living. I often kid the guys saying “ all we do is make violence for a living” We not there to help were always there to hurt! I never get called to chorograph a romantic love scene!

Another interesting fact about Jeff Imada is that he, along with such industry luminaries such as Vic Armstrong, Glenn Wilder and David Ellis, serves on the Blue Ribbon committee for the ‘stunt OSCARS’ The Taurus Awards. The Taurus Awards were set as primarily to honour the movie industry’s unsung heroes – the world’s best stunt professionals. Something the OSCAR’S so far have failed to do.

Impact: What are your thoughts on the academies failure to recognise stunt and action performers?

Imada: It’s interesting when you look at the awards. They acknowledge every other department – hair, make up, CGI, technology advancements, shorts but they don’t acknowledge the stunt people, stunt coordinators or the action people and yet it’s an integral part of a lot of these movies. It’s been brought up with the head of the academy and it’s been passed to me , second hand so I’m not sure if it’s absolutely true or not but its been told to me that in conversation the guy said “you guys are not and will not ever be considered for the academy awards”. But everyone else is acknowledged so why not us?

Impact: Was this something you have tried to rectify with your involvement with the Taurus awards?
Imada: Its important to acknowledge people for their accomplishments but the concern is you also don’t want people to take undue risks to get that accomplishment or award. To do it to a high level is great and to be acknowledged for that even better. A second unit director is given a whole unit to shoot and direct, we are involved with the actors… creating scenes that fit in with the characters, hand in hand with telling the story in a physical manor. Your creating something ever time your on set. With the actors. The camera angles. Now it has been said to me that there is an argument to say that we are just management, that we don’t do anything thing creative so why should you be acknowledged. Well if that’s the case why do these same guys ask us how to do this or that or ask us what we should do here or what the character would do or how they would react?

Impact: Do you think this will change?

Imada: I do. In the past we were the silent minority, hired to make the actors look good. Very much in the background/ They didn’t want to acknowledge it was us, the stunt men, because they could say it was all them and the actor would look better because of it but the transition is happening now and the actors are starting to acknowledge the stunt people more, our impact, importance and how we enhance what they do.
Imada has seen the industry change dramatically from when he started back in the early eighties. From the heights and boom of the cheaply made Cannon films of the 80’s through to wire heavy work of the The Matrix and the advent and proliferation of CGI. Most recently the industry has gone full circle, turning back to the more realistic hardcore action of 80’s Hong Kong.

Impact: Ong Bak has taken the action industry in a dramatically different direction., making things more real again. What’s your take on this most recent evolution?
Imada: 
When that film first came I remember watching it think “wow, that’s refreshing!”. Its back to reality based physicality of movement which is what inspired me in the first place… that combination between Bruce Lee and Jackie Chan. Jaa has an intensity, an acrobatic ability and not having wires involved makes you really appreciate us as a human species and what we can accomplish. It’s just awesome! I met Tony, he’s a really nice, humble guy…

 

And with that my time was very much up. Jeff Imada turned out to be truly one of the easiest and most enjoyable people I have ever interviewed. With a wealth of knowledge gained from his experiences both in front and behind the camera, his twenty plus years working in the industry and over 150 credits to his name I could have spent a whole day with him and still not scratch the surface of his illustrious career. What start started as a press interview, quickly turned into a conversation about films not unlike those I would have with friends I have known for years… although I guess the real difference being that none of them have worked on ‘They Live’!

For more on the Taurus Awards check out www.taurusworldstuntawards.com

Interview by: Phil Hobden