Blog: Jeff Imada – Stunt Legend (Interview)

Blog: Jeff Imada – Stunt Legend (Interview)

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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 

My life In Movies… (Best Film from EVERY Year I’ve Been Alive)

My life In Movies… (Best Film from EVERY Year I’ve Been Alive)

Best... Other Cr*p

A look at the BEST films, one from each of my years on this planet…. (Yes ’86 and ’84 was impossible to split!)

… And yes a few do differ from my Annual ‘Film of The Year’.  Hindsight is a wonderful thing!!!

The 70’s

1976 – The Outlaw Josey wales
1977 – Star Wars
1978 – Dawn Of The Dead
1979 – Alien

The 80’s

1980 – Empire Strikes Back
1981 – Raiders Of The Lost Ark
1982 – The Thing
1983 – The Return Of The Jedi

1984 – Ghostbusters/ Gremlins
1985 – The Goonies

1986 – Aliens/ Ferris Bueller’s Day Off/ Top Gun
1987 – The Lost Boys

1988 – Die Hard
1989 – Tango & Cash

The 90’s

1990 – Goodfellas
1991 – Terminator 2 Judgement Day
1992 – Reservoir Dogs
1993 – The Nightmare Before Christmas
1994 – Pulp Fiction

1995 – Heat
1996 – Trainspotting
1997 – Con Air
1998 – Lock Stock & Two Smoking barells
1999 – Fight Club

The 2000’s 

2000 – Snatch
2001 – Black Hawk Down
2002 – 28 days Later
2003 – Love Actually
2004 – Shaun Of The Dead
2005 – Serenity

2006 – Children of Men
2007 – Bourne Ultimatum

2008 – The Dark Knight
2009 – Slumdog Millonaire
2010 – The Social Network

The 10’s 

2011 – Hugo
2012 – Skyfall
2013 – Rush
2014 – Wolf Of Wall Street
2015 – Whiplash
2016 – The Nice Guys

Phil Hobden
Editor – Phil’s Quick Capsule Review

Grosse Point Geek: Marvel Studios vs DC And Why Man of Steel 2 Could Be A Very Bad Idea…

Grosse Point Geek: Marvel Studios vs DC And Why Man of Steel 2 Could Be A Very Bad Idea…

A Blog Grosse Point Geek Uncategorized

I am not ashamed to say it – I am a film geek, i have been since I was 4 years old and will remain so until I shuffle off this mortal coil to the great cinema in the sky. However, I’ve never been that much into comics –in my youth I dabbled in 2000AD and Dark Horse’s Alien/Predator series, plus I own a couple of Alan Moore graphic novels – but that’s about it.

However since seeing Richard Donner’s Superman in 1978, I have probably watched every single theatrically released superhero film ever made – as a result I feel I am more than qualified to write this article and voice the concerns I have about DC’s upcoming Man of Steel 2 and their proposed Justice League production.

Since the release of Iron Man in 2008, we have been living in an almost golden age of Superhero cinema – this has virtually been down to one studio – Marvel.

Of course  DC produced the Dark Knight Trilogy and last years Man of Steel, but its been Kevin Feige and his team at Marvel Studios that have really hit the jackpot, dominating the market with X Men and the quite astounding Avengers characters.

On paper none of this should have worked – lets be honest, 6 years ago, unless you were a massive comic fan you would  have had very little idea who Iron Man, Thor or Captain America were – let alone Nick Fury, Black Widow or Hawkeye  – or for that matter who the hell the Guardians of The Galaxy are.

But thanks to some serious risk taking (i.e. unusual choice of directors/casting the previously uninsurable RDJ as Tony Stark) and a quite brilliant slow build marketing campaign – Marvel have pulled off the impossible and created a high quality multi billion dollar superhero franchise the likes of which has never been seen. The crowning glory was, of course, the Avengers in 2012 – and continues to this day with the upcoming Captain America 2, X Men Days of Future Past and the aforementioned Guardians of The Galaxy.  Ok, it hasn’t been all plain sailing  – The Fantastic Four film was awful as was its sequel, X Men 3 and the two stand alone Wolverine’s were a bit iffy, and their track record of character reboots is chequered to say the least – The Punisher has had 3 screen incarnations – all of which fell flat, they only got the Hulk right on the third attempt (and that was down to Joss Whedon) and don’t get me started on Ghost Rider as I’m still trying to get over the monstrosity that was Spirit Of Vengeance.

However Marvel’s hits have far outweighed their failures and this,  brings us neatly to DC.

Now, once again, unless you are comic book reader, there are probably only two DC characters that you can name  – Batman and Superman. To be fair Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy will stand the test of time as 3 of the greatest films ever made and, despite being too CGI heavy, last years Man Of Steel was very good indeed. The only other character DC recently  got to the big screen was The Green Lantern,  a horrible SFX driven load of nonsense, featuring an annoying Ryan Reynolds in the title role and Mark Strong with a massive pink forehead  – needless to say it was a critical and commercial flop.

Putting it mildly, DC are now a distant second to Marvel, seemingly lacking the same risk taking flair as Marvel and seemingly frightened to try any thing new, they appear to only have Batman and Superman as viable products, resulting in the now in production Man of Steel 2, which for the first time ever will see The Last Son of Krypton face off against Gotham’s Dark Knight.

When this film was announced at the 2013 San Diego Comic Con, the cheers and screams of joy from the assembled audience nearly blew the roof off  -some weeks later, this was replaced with hoots of derision and general gnashing of teeth when it was revealed that none other than Ben Affleck would be donning the  cowl and cape opposite Henry Cavill’s Supes. In addition, it was recently announced that Fast and Furious’ Gal Gadot had been cast as Wonder Woman, Jeremy Irons would be Alfred Pennyworth and oddly, Zombieland’s Jessie Eisenberg had been tapped for Lex Luthor.

Now none of this bothers me – I personally like Ben Affleck  – his output of late has been fantastic and, despite the critical and fan boy kicking he had as Matt Murdock in 2002’s Daredevil – I actually thought he did a pretty good job. I have no opinion ether way on Gal Gadot as Wonder Woman, and whilst the casting of  Jessie Eisenberg as Lex Luthor seems odd, it will certainly be interesting to see what he does with the role.

But that folks is where my enthusiasm for this film stops. Granted the whole thing seems interesting and I will be the first in the queue to see it when its released in 2016. However here are my 5 reasons why Man of Steel 2 and the already mooted Justice League movie are potentially very bad ideas – none of which have anything to do with the cast:

  1. The Avengers was too good  -Literally millions of people saw Joss Whedon’s 2012 masterwork  – adding up to the fact that audiences will be very cynical about another multi character super hero film coming out so soon, one can almost hear the  cries of  “rip off” and “shameless cash in” already.
  2. Batman vs Superman/Justice League is happening too fast. It took four years, five inter weaving films, a lot of planning and a great deal of very clever end credit teasing to get to the Avengers – DC just seem to be ploughing ahead with an almost in your face sledgehammer approach that smacks of urgent desperation to capitalise on Marvel’s success.
  3. Zack Snyder – Don’t get me wrong Snyder has made some smashing films – 300 is incredibly entertaining, Watchmen was a damn good adaptation of a previously thought unfilmable graphic novel  and his Dawn of The Dead remake was outstanding. The problem is that, very much like George Lucas and James Cameron, his films lack a bit of  humour, his scripts are no where near as sharp as Joss Whedon’s and he uses too much green screen and CGI. So Zack if you want to succeed– my advice  is to do what Joss would and focus on character and inject a few laughs.

  4. Plausibility – Superman and Batman have featured many in multiple separate films – so the idea of two very well known , good guy heroes ending up battling each other in the same universe just doesn’t seem plausible – just a bit – well – silly.
  5. Batman –  For me this is the major flaw of the whole thing.  The main question is – how do you bring anything new to  a character that has been rebooted twice already and played by 4 different actors?

The Affleck Batman is supposed to be totally unrelated to both the Chris Nolan and Tim Burton films. They cant squeeze in an origin story as Man of Steel 2  would end up being too long, and without one no one will have any clue as to what incarnation of the character he is supposed to be – most will wrongly think he is a continuation of Nolan’s version, others will just be confused. The Dark Knight Trilogy concluded Batman almost definitively, and the only way to plausibly bring him back in Man of Steel 2 was to bring back the Christian Bale version as we saw in Nolan’s films or continue with TDKR’s Robin as played by Joseph Gordon Levitt.  – this of course is not the case and is the main reason why Superman vs Batman may well not work.

Of course I sincerely hope im wrong, no one loves a good blockbuster more than me and I never like to see any film flop.  I will be very interested to see what the final movie looks like, no doubt it will be entertaining and make millions for DC  – but unless Messrs’ Snyder and Nolan can capture the same magic Marvel have done to such amazing effect so many times  – this really could be as bad for DC as the disaster that was Batman and Robin – and that my friends is a very sobering thought.

I invite any rebuttals to the above from my fellow film fans  – no doubt my erstwhile friend Mr Phillip Hobden will have something to say on the matter…

Writer: Will Strong 

Feature: Ever Wondered What It Would Be Like To Attend A Star Studded Film Premier?

Feature: Ever Wondered What It Would Be Like To Attend A Star Studded Film Premier?

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Ever wondered what it would be like to attend a star studded film premier?

Me too.

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That’s why I jumped at the chance to attend the UK premier of The Monuments Men, a film about a group of men tasked with finding art and other precious objects stolen by the Nazis.  The film is Produced, Directed by and stars George Clooney, able support is in the forms of Matt Damon, Bill Murray, John Goodman, Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban, Hugh Bonneville and Cate Blanchette.

Knowing that I was going to be walking down the red carpet gave me second thoughts about my attire, a ripped pair of jeans and a polo shirt. I then decided to go smart, only to be reminded by my partner that it didn’t matter what I looked like, people wanted to see George Clooney not myself. Undaunted, I smartened myself up and headed up to London.

Walking

past Trafalgar Square you could already hear the screams coming from nearby Leicester Square; I then had to barge past a horde of paparazzi outside The National Portrait Gallery as some of the recovered works of art were on display and would later be visited by the stars of the film.

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Rounding the corner into Leicester Square I was met by a throng of people all screaming for Matt Damon who had just arrived. Thousands of people were pushed up against the crash barriers all wanting a glimpse of their idols and maybe an autograph or selfie. I have walked through the square when there have been numerous premiers but never had I seen crowds on this scale.

Pushing through the crowd I arrived at my destination, a nearby hotel where my ticket was waiting at reception. Ticket now in hand, I dually set off to circumnavigate the perils of an overcrowded square and find my way in to The Odeon. Spotting lots of bouncers in hi vis jackets at the entrance to the gardens I headed their way and presented my ticket, this was to be the first of 6 times my ticket was checked in the space of 100 metres.

I walked behind an outside broadcast vehicle and the next thing I knew was that I was on the red carpet, cameras were flashing in front of me and I realised that I was a couple of feet away from Hugh Bonneville.

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I continued to walk along the carpet, ushered along by the security until I was almost pushed into Matt Damon, iPhone in hand I managed to grab a couple of pictures before being pushed forward by security again.

In front of me, Jenni Falconer was interviewing John Goodman up on the stage, his voice booming out across the square, it was at this point that I spotted George Clooney being interviewed to my right, I walked over closer to get a better look, “take a picture and make it quick” his wall of security said, photo taken, I had my ticket checked again and I was then inside.

Walking through the foyer, I noticed someone out of the corner of my eye; it was Jean Dujardin just hanging around the foyer.  I went straight up to him and in my best GCSE French said “Excusez-moi Monsieur Dujardin, une photo s’il vous plaît?” he shrugged his shoulders and gave a slight nod. Happy with my French and with my photo I headed into the cinema to find my seat.

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The cinema screen was showing all of the footage from outside and all of the interviews with the stars, I took this opportunity to wolf down the huge bag of complimentary popcorn and Lindt chocolates that were on each seat.

Thirty minutes later a troop of silhouettes were seen walking down the side of the cinema, the house lights went up and the stars of the film appeared on stage and thanked everyone for coming. There is a large round of applause for some of the surviving Monuments Men and women that are also in attendance tonight, Clooney’ speech is short and sweet and utterly charming, and with that he is done, he leads everyone off stage and back out of a side exit of the cinema.

The lights dim again and the curtain rises as I settle down to watch The Monuments Men.

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(Back L-R) John Goodman, George Clooney, Matt Damon, Bill Murray, (front L-R) Jean Dujardin, Bob Balaban, real life Monument Man Harry Ettlinger, Dimitri Leonidas and Writer & Producer Grant Heslov

Visit the Telegraph to see the Red Carpet highlights video… 

Reporter: Matt Duddy

Review: About Time (DVD/BR)

Review: About Time (DVD/BR)

All Things Film Blog Other Cr*p Uncategorized

The Review:  An open letter to writer/director Richard Curtis.

“Dear Mr. Curtis.

I recently had the very unfortunate displeasure of enduring your latest work “About Time”. I am a massive fan of your early work; in particular Not the Nine O’Clock News, Blackadder and Four Weddings and a Funeral. All these examples are at least twenty years old, caught at a time when I clearly was in a very influential mood in my formative years, and continue to uphold that those previously named titles are among the best of their genre.

I write to you, candidly, to ask – where has it all gone wrong of late? Since Four Weddings, your work has drudged down an endlessly mediocre path. It wasn’t until The Boat That Rocked that I really started to see your limitations. That was a pithy, half-arsed effort by any stretch of the imagination. Now, you’ve seen fit to foist a time travel romantic comedy upon us. You are clearly not equipped to have taken such a challenge.

First of all, I’m not sure if you’ve noticed, by London (and by the looks of it, most of Surrey or Kent, or wherever the main character is from) has changed. Gone are the days of moviegoers relating to ginger thirtysomethings posing as twenty-one year olds (Domnhall Gleeson) of such ABC1 stock toddling off to stay with a wealthy playwright in St. John’s Wood. Precisely whom do you think you and Working Title think you’re aiming your film at? Mercifully, this notion is the very least of the movie’s problems.

This time travel business. His Dad, played – as usual by the omnipresent Bill Nighy (is this where you got the idea from, incidentally?) – avails his son that if he goes into a cupboard and squeezes his hands, he can revisit his own past and change the course of events. This seems okay – but I must ask, why can you, a revered scribe, not play by your own rules? Take for example, the first time the lead character literally bumps into the female lead played by Rachel McAdams (in a gut wrenching set up involving a restaurant operated by the blind) in a sequence in the dark so long we need time stamp intervals all over it. If he has to rescue his roommate’s play by holding up cue cards, and thereby missing his first encounter with McAdams, why couldn’t he go back in time to do both? Or catch one earlier than the other?
There are innumerable moments like this in the film; each one testing my patience before the one that sees the creepy lead have sex with the female lead, remark that he was “not very good” and disappear into the cupboard to try again. Now, Mr. Curtis, I’m all for creative licence – really, I am. But this is taking the piss.
I consider this package of thinly veiled insults a direct attack on my character. Do you really think I, or any of my fellow human peers with reasonably developed brains and intellect, will tolerate this? Clearly you do – and, clearly, this says more about you as an artist than the film itself.

I am writing, principally, to instruct you to stop writing movies herewith. You should know better. You should certainly know better than as a writer to hire yourself as a director; but on this occasion, your writing is going to cause a lot of upset to a great many people. I am sorry to report that you are neither big nor clever – and your recent “work” is untying the great historic works in your catalogue. I can withstand and tolerate maybe one or two misfires. However, with you, we are experiencing a decay; a collapses; an utter Enron-style dismantling at the imagination bank of Curtis. You must stop this incessant insistence that your movies bring joy to the masses, and that if your movie had not starred Bill Nighy or blatantly forked out what appears to be well over £100k for the soundtrack and probably a hundred times that for the marketing of the movie, that somehow you have created a success. You have not. You have not succeeded, either, in creating a work worthy of a score out of ten.

It brings me no pleasure in having to write this to you, openly – publicly. I am to assume my last private letter to you regarding The Boat That Rocked did not manage to find its way to your desk, and so you leave me no other option. I do hope you take this correspondence the way it I intend it to be taken; deadly serious and without any trace of irony.

I would like to thank you, however, for at least tacking on a thick subtext concerning the preciousness of time; how time given from someone is the greatest gift of all, and that it should not be squandered. It pains me to have to report that I walked away from this film approximately 50 minutes into its running time; the film made me realise we do not have much time on this planet and that we cannot live in the past. Curiously enough, this letter seems to serve as a contrary response to precisely that sentiment; however. With an hour and twenty minutes left of the movie, and a quick five minute visit to Wikipedia to read up on precisely what I was about to miss, and this resultant letter taking me roughly twenty minutes to write, means I have saved approximately fifty-five minutes of time I would have otherwise squandered being lectured to about the precariousness of the time I was wasting watching the fucking message in the first place.

I do hope that made sense. If it didn’t, then at least I can bask in the knowledge that it made more sense than the mechanics of your narrative in the movie.

Yours with the utmost regret,

Andrew Mackay”

 

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From The Vault: Jeff Imada – Stunt Legend

From The Vault: Jeff Imada – Stunt Legend

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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

Review: Stand Up Guys (DVD/BR)

Review: Stand Up Guys (DVD/BR)

All Things Film Blog Other Cr*p Uncategorized

The Review: It’s a dream cast and a film I’ve been looking forward to for a while; three old gangster codgers hook up together for one last job-type of a movie. Al Pacino, Christopher Walken and Alan Arkin, reuniting – if nothing else – two of the principle players from Glengarry Glen Ross. Theoretically, this sounds promising; part mob flick, part comedy, part drama. I think. The advertising has been a bit confusing – and now, after having sat through it, I still don’t know what this is. And do not be fooled by the poster, either.

What I can reveal about it, however, is that it isn’t terribly good. Walken collects Pacino as he’s released from jail after 28 years to show him a good time (literally, courtesy of our own Brit-turned-Hollywood star Lucy Punch and her gaggle of Eastern European hookers) and innumerable trips to steak houses, bars and coffee huts. The thing is, Walken is on strict instructions to pop a cap in Pacino’s ass from mob boss Mark Margolis (in a stilted half-a-day cameo) – and it’s all quite bittersweet as they reminisce about “da good ol’ days” – culminating in an attempt to rescue the remaining member of their gang from an old folks home. Alan Arkin plays this character that they have to rescue. The old folks home has as much security as a KFC, and he simply could have wandered out of there any time he pleases.

Here’s the problem; the script is by first-timer Noah Haidle. Yeah, I never heard of him, either. Looking him up on the IMDb, he has two short films under his belt, and looks to be about 15 years old. Funnily enough, that’s precisely how the script unfurls on screen. The movie is lifeless and staid as a result, aided none by actor Fisher Steven’s pedestrian direction.

Is it any wonder that Pacino, Walken and Arkin look thoroughly bored? At times this felt like a sort of mess-around recce for another film. They’ve not got much to work with, and the film meanders trying to find purpose. Everyone looks as bored as I felt sitting through it. It’s a directionless vacuum of entertainment; no, not even the trademark “Walkinisms” register on screen. Arkin looks angry that he’s involved in this mess. The only player emerging unscathed is the cute Addison Timlin playing the down-to-earth waitress entertaining the old codgers in the wee small hours.

Sure, the film perks up in the final moments, but by then it’s too little, too late – and anyway, just as things get cooking, the film conveniently ends.

It’s a shame – this movie could have been a small, hidden belter.

I’ve no doubt it will go straight to video here on its eventual release. And how ironic and prescient would it be if it did so in April – around about the time the tax bill is due from the main players, obviously signing on the dotted line for this embarrassing yawn-fest to avoid the IRS for another tax year.

 

Reviewed By: Andrew MacKay

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Meet The Expendables: The Epic Press Conference Transcript

Meet The Expendables: The Epic Press Conference Transcript

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It was one of the biggest films of 2012, and finally delivered on the failed promise of the original Expendable movie.  That’s right is the DVD release of The Expendables 2 and to celebrate we have the full transcript of the film press conference with the cast & crew…

Interviewer: Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. On behalf of Lionsgate I’m delighted to welcome you to this press conference for The Expendables 2. Will you join me in welcoming our guests today? They are Sylvester Stallone, Mr. Arnold Schwarzenegger, Mr. Jason Statham, Mr. Dolph Lundgren, Mr. Scott Adkins, and Mr. Jean-Claude Van Damme.

I’m going to do one quick question to the top table and then we’re going to open it all to the floor. Guys, can I call you gentlemen, or alpha dogs, perhaps, this morning? I think that would be a good title for you.

You absolutely blew us away with the first film and it took something like $273m at the box office worldwide. How has the bar, in what ways has the bar, been significantly raised in The Expendables 2? Sly, could we start with you and then work our way?

Sylvester Stallone: Sure.

Interviewer: Thank you.

Sylvester Stallone: Real quickly, on the sequel you’ve lost the element of surprise, so you have to give the audience… Usually the first one you may not go very, very deep into character; second one you start to explore the character a bit more. But the odds that you can’t surprise them become, like I said, a lot heavier. So you have to work more and more to come up with some creative devices to keep the action flowing.

Interviewer: Arnold? How do you think the bar was raised?

Arnold: I was happy that I was asked again to be back.

(Laughter)

Arnold: For me it was really interesting because one day you are making policy and trying to stimulate the economy and trying to fix the budget problem of the state. Or talking about inmates or educational issues and all those things. The next day you’re on a set and having a shoot out with Van Damme and with Sly, with Bruce Willis and all those guys.

This has been the interesting part about my life, it’s really interesting, right? To go from one to the other. I was very appreciative that Sly asked me again.

I think this movie is going to really blow everyone away, because there’s so much great action and funny scenes. The movie made me laugh a lot. It had a lot of terrific funny scenes in there, which is important when you have an action movie to have some comic relief.

I thought that everyone’s performance was great. I thought that the first one was almost impossible to top. But when you see this one you’ll agree that this one is even bigger and better than the first one. I think it’s going to be very successful.

Interviewer: Jason, would you like to add to that?

Jason Statham: What was the question?

Interviewer: The question was, (Laughter), how…?

Dolph Lundgren: How old are you?

Interviewer: The bar being raised – how has the bar been raised this time round?

Jason Statham: Well, it always has to, ever sequel has to be bigger and better, otherwise the challenge isn’t there and the expectation is that. So you have to fulfil that requirement from the audience. But if anyone knows how to make action movies it’s Sly. So when he gets this crowd together, you know you’re in safe hands.

So I think that’s very important that so many people who don’t know how to make action movies, sometimes you come up and get… That situation’s not always a good one, put it that way. So when we’re in the company of the greats, we feel relaxed and then we know we’re going to do something good.

Interviewer: Dolph, what about you? What would you like to say on that? Was it a further physical challenge for you all as well?

Dolph Lundgren: Yes, it always is, it’s tough. We shot in Bulgaria for four months, enjoyed the tomato salads and cold chicken. But the movies, like these other gentlemen mentioned, it’s bigger, badder, better and funnier. That’s what we tried to do and that’s what I’d like to do. Because my character was funnier, I think – Sly came up with some pretty good jokes. Arnold of course had the funniest lines in the whole movie, as usual. But we all tried to live up to his comedy as well.

What do you think, Adkins? The bad guy.

Interviewer: Scott.

Scott Adkins: Bad guy. Well, for me as the newcomer, it’s just an honour to be asked to appear in this film with all these action legends. For me, I grew up watching these guys, so these are the guys that made me decide that I wanted to do this for a living. I’m just extremely honoured to be part of it.

Interviewer: Jean-Claude?

Jean-Claude: You know, when I walk on the street, in the airport, whatever, people come to me and they’re saying “Hey, when is your next movie?” So I’ve got to say something, [have a public 0:05:05] for DVD, one for theatrical and one for both.

Because of him, lots of us – I mean me at least – I’m going back to theatre, the big screens. So I’ve got to say thank you to Stallone for putting me back on the big screen because I’ve got those good eyes, good face, I do my best in the acting…

(Laughter)

Jean-Claude: We don’t see that on DVD; we have to over-exaggerate it. So thanks to The Expendables; thank you, Sly.

Sylvester Stallone: You’re welcome.

Jean-Claude: Mr. Stallone.

(Laughter)

Jean-Claude: They understand why I call you Mr. Stallone.

Sylvester Stallone: Yes, because I’m your grandfather.

(Laughter)

Sylvester Stallone: I get that. Don’t rub it in.

Interviewer: We’re going to throw it open to the audience now. If you could address your questions to one or two people on the panel, that would be great. We’ve got somebody in the front row here. We’ll work this side of the room first of all and then we’ll pass it over here. Tim, go ahead.

Male: I have a question for Sly. This is a physically demanding role. I understand that you suffered quite a bad injury when you were making the original Expendables movie. A couple of questions. Did that put you off doing a sequel? Did you suffer any injuries? Is there anybody in your life whose opinion you value who said “Don’t do this, Sly, because you’re taking too much of a risk”?

Sylvester Stallone: Yes, the doctors… I had my neck fused in the last one, with the stunt that went real bad. I had two back operations, a shoulder operation, Achilles operation. The last movie took its toll. The doctor said “Don’t take any rough falls. Let a stunt fellow do it.”

But sometimes you just have to do it. I don’t know why, I guess throw common sense out the window. So yes, there were some injuries; there were some tough ones in this one. But I can’t help myself. (Laughter). It’s a fool’s paradise for me.

Interviewer: There’s a gentleman there, just at the end of the front row here. Thank you.

Male: [Jan 0:06:58] from Belgium. A question for Mr. Stallone and Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jean-Claude Van Damme. In the old days there used to be quite a bit of competition between you guys as action legends. How was it working on a project together? Was there competition on the set?

Sylvester Stallone: Very competitive. Very. No-one wants to be second, so that’s why everyone pushes very hard, and why these people have established the reputation they have. Because they want to be the best, and they usually are.

Arnold: I have to say that for me it was the opposite. I felt that everyone on the set was very helpful, because they knew that I have been out of the movies for eight years. So they actually went a little bit overboard thinking that I don’t know how to hold a gun anymore or how to throw a punch or anything like that, (Laughter). So everyone came together kind of and helped, which was really terrific.

But at the same time, we were very competitive, like you said. I think if you grow up and try to be the best then you have to be competitive. Because the more you compete the more someone ___ [0:08:14] is a challenge, the more your performance improves. So I think, because of that, of watching them with their action movies, I tried to step it up.

So we were always competing about who has the most defined muscles and who has the best body and who-

Sylvester Stallone: The bigger motor horn.

Arnold: Yes. Who has the least amount of body fat and who has the biggest gun, and who kills the most people. Who kills the most people in a unique way and all of this stuff. So there was competition like that all the time, yes.

Dolph Lundgren: Biggest watch…

Sylvester Stallone: Biggest watch, yes.

(Laughter)

Interviewer: Mr. Van Damme as well?

Jean-Claude: Can you repeat your question? Because I was so involved into the answer I’m sorry.

Interviewer: Was there a lot of competition?

Jean-Claude: No, I mean it was a great team. When I see those guys they are an inspiration for me, so I didn’t feel like competing. I felt like following their example and to be as good as them. Next.

Sylvester Stallone: Good answer.

Jean-Claude: Thank you. [Thank you as well 0:09:24] in Flemish. By the way, I felt something – do you have something under the table touching you?

(Laughter)

Sylvester Stallone: Yes.

Jean-Claude: I felt something strange… It was a Belgian joke.

Sylvester Stallone: See what I mean?

(Laughter)

Sylvester Stallone: Unpredictable.

Interviewer: There’s another question this side of the room and then we’ll go to the far side.

Male: Hi, Mr. Stallone, I’m Neil Smith from the BBC. You did mention the stunt guys and the film does carry quite a poignant dedication to the stunt performer who sadly lost his life during the course of the film. How hard was that for the cast and crew to deal with and to bounce back from?

Sylvester Stallone: It was incredibly hard. Especially the members of the stunt team, they took it very, very hard and shut down for quite a while. It’s still something they’re going through. It’s happened twice before in films I’ve been on and it’s never easy. It’s ongoing, I’m sorry.

Interviewer: The other side of the room. Second row, there’s that lady, Kim, yes, if we start with you. Then there’s two chaps beside you I think would like to ask a question, give them that mic there. Go ahead.

Female: A question for Arnold. You said yourself that you’ve been out of acting for a while. Some might say that there are a lot of parallels between acting and politics. What parallels have you found?

Arnold: I think there are a lot. You’re always as good as your last movie and I think it’s the same with politics. If you are successful with a certain policy then you’re hot, if you’re successful with the economy and with bringing down the unemployment rate, you’re hot. But if you’re not successful then things go south very quickly.

I think communication and how to talk to the people is the same as in show business. In acting class they taught you always about you have to be real, “Don’t act, be real. Connect with the people; connect with your partner that you’re acting with.” The same is also in politics. In politics you have to connect with the people.

Some politicians talk like they’re talking to a wall and they cannot penetrate. I think that one thing that is extremely important is to connect with the people and to bring the people in to become your partners, in order to be successful. So there’s a lot of similarities. But then there’s a lot of differences also.

Interviewer: Okay. The gentleman beside and the one beside that. We’ll just cover this little clique at the moment. Go ahead.

Male: It’s first of all an honour to have you all here with us today. Congratulations on an amazing film. My question particularly to Arnold and Sylvester.

Obviously I think for action fans, the finest moment of many action films is the one-liners. There’s so many great ones in this film. But I wondered, looking back over both of your illustrious careers, if you could perhaps share with us what you think in your opinion have been some of the best and perhaps worst that you’ve ever had the privilege to utter on screen. If anyone else wanted to join in, that’s great too.

Sylvester Stallone: I guess my best is “[Yo Adrian 0:12:43]…” It’s one thing you just can’t criticise. Some of the worst would have to be perhaps all my dialogue in ‘Stop! Or My Mom WillShoot’.

(Laughter)

Sylvester Stallone: Probably every line would be immortally bad.

Arnold: I think that one-liners are very important and sometimes you don’t even know when you make the movie that this is going to be a great line. I remember when we did Terminator and we did the line “I’ll be back,” I had no idea this was going to be an important line or something people will repeat.

As a matter of fact I had an argument with Jim Cameron about saying it “I will be back.” He said “No. I wrote it ‘I’ll be back.’” I said “I don’t like the way the L sounds the ‘I’ll’, it sounds a little soft. Maybe it’s more machine-like if I say ‘I will be back.’” He says “No. I wrote it ‘I’ll be back.’”

(Laughter)

Arnold: “So, do me a favour and just say ‘I’ll be back.’” (Laughter). “We shoot it 10 times, 10 different versions and then we pick one. But just say the line.” Anyway, so I did say the line “I’ll be back,” and sure enough when the movie came out I had people come up to me and say “Say the line, say the line.” I said “What line?” They said “I’ll be back,” and I said “I’ll be back.” They said “No, no, no; the way you said it in the movie.” I said “I’ll be back.” They said “Yes, yes, that’s the way…”

So I realised that line clicked with the people and it was a big line. But I did not know when I shot it. Then sometimes you do know. In Commando when I held the guy by his feet and said “I lied,” and then I dropped him. I knew that would be a funny line and would get a big laugh. So sometimes you know and sometimes you don’t know.

Interviewer: Quickly for the rest of the panel, can you think of a good line and a bad line that you’d like to nominate for our questioner here?

Arnold: I’ve never had a bad line.

Interviewer: There you go.

(Laughter)

Sylvester Stallone: There it is.

Dolph Lundgren: I’ve never had a good line.

(Laughter)

Dolph Lundgren: Except for the “I must break you.” Sly, I didn’t argue with him at that point, because I was a kid. He said “Say it that way,” and I said “Alright, I’ll say it that way.” “I must break you.”

Interviewer: Jason, would you like to?

Jason Statham: Yes, you’ve got to have a movie that people have seen, and I don’t think I have.

(Laughter)

Jason Statham: Apart from this one. [So it would be 0:15:10] irrelevant.

Interviewer: Jean-Claude, what about you? A good line and bad line from movies that you’ve appeared in?

Jean-Claude: Sometimes you can send the ball back like if he’s given me a bad line, a good line or whatever it is. I can look with the eyes and go…

(Laughter)

Jean-Claude: It’s enough, sometimes the eyes in movies they talk a lot if you mean a lot. So I [have to do 0:15:32] a line, I just relax, no dialogue [or] I take my [words] behind the camera.

Sylvester Stallone: So it’s good gesture, bad gesture.

Interviewer: The eyes have it. If you could pass the microphone to the gentleman beside and then if you could pass it in front after you. The gentleman with the glasses next, thank you.

Male: This is another question for Arnold. You mentioned this is your first film in eight years. I wondered what the feelings were on the first day of shooting. Wonder if there were any nerves at all?

Arnold: Well, the interesting thing is that when I was governor and I would visit a movie set, which I did quite frequently in Hollywood. Because I wanted to thank people for shooting in California, because it’s good for the economy. It’s a huge business for California. A lot of states have now got very smart and they offer tax incentives, so now productions go outside the state of California. So I always wanted to go and thank them.

Then when I walked away my assistant or aid would always say “Don’t you miss that?” I remember we were just coming from a set with Tom Cruise filming and he was in a harness. He was hanging upside down doing some fight scene, and I said “No. I’m so happy I don’t have to hang in this harness upside down and do this fight scene over and over. I’m happy being governor and I cannot imagine doing that again.”

Then all of a sudden, a few years later after I said that, I’m on a movie set and I’m having the greatest time. I think there was just the ideal movie to be in when you come back was Expendables. First of all because you’re working with the top action heroes. Everyone works together; the spotlight does not go on me but it is spread out amongst all of those action heroes. So it was a safer way to come back.

So I was very fortunate that Sly liked what I did in the first one, the little scene, the cameo I did, that he asked me to come back and to do a bigger role. I had the best time from the time I got to Bulgaria and we started filming. All the way to the end. It was difficult for me to leave because I knew that those guys are going to now have fun for a few more months and I had to leave to go to my next film, which was The Last Stand. So it was the perfect way to get into the movie business again.

Interviewer: Great. I’m going to try to take these in the order in which hands have gone up, so I’m going to move right to the back. Get the microphone please and go down to Stephen, I think, from Ireland right at the back. Yes, after this one, thank you.

Female: Hi, I’m Lorna from Denmark. This is a question for Sly, mainly. Almost all of you are used to being top of the bill when a movie comes out, so were there any clashes of egos at all on the movie? How did you handle it if there were? It seemed like you used humour a lot.

Sylvester Stallone: Well, I’d like to say there was, because it makes for a more interesting story. But no, there was ultimate respect. I think everyone just knew what to do with their job.

The key with men like us is very, very simple. If you give out respect, you get respect. If you disrespect then you’re going to get that too. It’s very, very simple.

But what it is – and I have to give credit to – not many people would do a film like this. This is a very risky film taking people – he said “I don’t know if this would work anymore.” But Avi Lerner created this kind of atmosphere.

He went around, and it’s very, very important where the producer and the financer has a personal relationship with everybody. So everyone – they don’t feel like they’re just hired hands, they’re like their friends. So there was no ego clash whatsoever.

Interviewer: We’re glad to hear. Ladies and gentlemen, I’m going to have to say that Mr. Jean-Claude Van Damme has got to leave us now; he’s got to go for a live television interview. So can we thank him for his attendance here today?

(Applause)

Interviewer: Thank you so much for joining us.

Jean-Claude: The bad guy – make sure if they speak bad about me behind my back… Let me know, huh? Room 236. [That’s a boy 0:19:36].

(Laughter)

Jean-Claude: See you guys.

Sylvester Stallone: Bye now.

Jean-Claude: I’m very shy.

Sylvester Stallone: Very shy. Bye.

Male: Is this working? Hello? Hi. My question’s for Mr. Stallone. Firstly can I ask are there plans going ahead for an Expendables 3? If so, judging at the timing of year, are you inspired by the Olympics? Would you consider any guest stars from any Olympian gold medallists this year? One suggestion I would say would be maybe Ireland’s Katie Taylor, the lightweight women’s champion.

Sylvester Stallone: Yes, see that would be an interesting choice. Really I think as we spread out, we are thinking about different concepts. Because the third one’s the hardest, by far. The second is the natural progression. Third one, that’s when the air gets rare.

We’re thinking pretty ambitiously about it. So she would fit right in there, because we’re going for odd choices – you have to. Now you have to give the audience something they don’t expect at all. Maybe even go into a different sort of genre, if you read between the lines, get out there a little bit. Maybe rip off one of your other films. Something like that.

(Laughter)

Interviewer: Right, this gentleman…

Male: Hi there, it’s Ben from Men’s Fitness. I’ve got a question for Jason. Obviously you’re in great shape for the film. What advice would you give to people who want to get into similar kind of shape? What would be your top tip for training, recovery and nutrition?

Jason Statham: Well, listen, I’m in and amongst people that have been a lot fitter and more in shape than myself. So, down the list, I’ll still answer the question, because I’ve trained a little bit myself.

But it’s just having the focus and the dedication and the restriction against eating the wrong foods. It’s a state of mind, really. If you can be good with your diet, that’s the first point. Then the rest comes easy. The exercise and the commitment and having a good environment. That’ll take you to a certain level.

Then obviously if you’re looking to achieve great things like some of the Olympians, I can’t answer that, (Laughter), because I never quite made it. But I’m sure Arnold, we’re in great company, can enlighten us on how to take it to an extreme level.

Male: For Arnold and Sly, obviously training now, you probably have to approach it slightly differently to how you would earlier in your career. How have you adapted how you train to meet those demands?

Sylvester Stallone: Mine is obviously going lighter and more scientific, and using the equipment that they are actually using with Olympians today, and plyometrics. It just seems to be… Actually, it’s more fun than just a regular iron game. Arnold is an expert of just ground and pound; he’s really going old school. But I think you’ve changed your routine a little bit too…

Arnold: Yes, I do the curls first now.

(Laughter)

Arnold: I do the squats last.

Sylvester Stallone: Totally different.

Arnold: I think that Sly always used a much more scientific way of training. Always, what I remember, you were hungry always what was the latest method and what is the latest findings and study and all of that stuff. He’s right that I come much more from the old school. I believe in reps and to just do it every day for an hour a day.

I do the same exercises I did 50 years ago and they still work. I eat the same food I did 50 years ago and it still works. I have a great time; I’m addicted to exercising; I have to do it every day. Have to do something every day and then also some cardiovascular training.

Here in London it has been fun because they have the Boris bikes all over London. So we go bicycle riding here and sightseeing at the same time and having a great time. But to me, exercise has always been part of my life. Also watching what you eat.

But it is, without any doubt, tougher as you get older. Your metabolism slows down, your muscles don’t respond exactly the same way anymore than when you do action scenes and fight scenes or running around. You take longer to recuperate. But, so what? It doesn’t matter. It’s not like we don’t get paid for it. It’s not like we don’t have a good time. It’s not like we’re not passionate about what we’re doing. It’s all terrific.

No matter what age you’re in, we have a great time. We had a great time working with all of the action stars that were in the movie. It was the first time I worked with Jason and it was terrific working with him. He’s such a talented actor and is so believable on the screen. He really shines in this movie again, so I’m happy about that. Everyone was terrific to work with.

Interviewer: Scott, as the newcomer on the physical side, were you able to teach these veteran gentlemen a trick or two, perhaps?

Scott Adkins: No, I was of course picking the brains of Arnold – I got to train with Arnold and Jean-Claude. But for me, at the young age of 36, (Laughter), I’m starting to feel the joints starting to go and I’m starting to re-evaluate the way I train. Try and go that more scientific route. But I don’t know, it seems as long as you train hard you’re going to get results.

Sylvester Stallone: No, but Scott, he’s by far one of the top 1% in the world at what he does. It’s just absolutely extraordinary. I wish we could have used him more. When he started films on his own he’s got an amazing body, amazing musculature and the coordination’s just staggering. I mean he really is a really amazing talent.

Scott Adkins: Thanks, Sly.

Sylvester Stallone: It’s true.

Interviewer: There’s a lady at the back and then if we can bring the microphone forward to the front row after that. Yes.

Female: Hi. I’m Charlie from AddictedMMA. This is a question for Scott. With a film like The Expendables 2, the bad guys are as important as the good guys, so that the good guys are believable. Coming onto the set working with guys like this, did you feel pressure to step up to the plate? Were you worried about overegging it or not doing enough to have that presence on screen of being a believable bad guy?

Scott Adkins: Sure, I was nervous. I’m nervous to be in the presence of them now. But I played a similar character before – I did a film called Undisputed 2 and 3 and there’s a character I played called Boyka, a Russian MMA fighter. He was very intense.

There’s a lot of fans out there for this character. It’s an underground movie, you’d have to seek it out. But I knew that that worked. So for The Expendables 2, on the big stage, I took what I did for that character, which was very intense. Because we were in Eastern Europe it made sense to make the character from Eastern Europe and give it that different flavour.

Just tried to bring that intensity to the part of Hector and hopefully I’ve got the audience to love to hate me. Because that’s what you want from a good villain. Yes, we have the end fight, me and Jason, so I think it’s what fans are expecting, really.

Interviewer: Okay, there’s two questions in the front row here. I think that might just about be wrapping it up after that, ladies and gentlemen, but we’ll see.

Male: Hi, Chris from [Belgium 0:27:40]; a question for Sly and Arnold. You guys practically invented this kind of action movie genre. But I just wondered, when you were younger, did you have a kind of role model for this kind of genre? I’m thinking about Kirk Douglas maybe or…

Sylvester Stallone: Yes, growing up I of course admired physically, the first time I saw Hercules Unchained, just something snapped in my brain. Because I was very, very thin and I had no direction, the usual adolescent insecurities. From that point on I had a real male role model. Of course [modelling 0:28:17] yourself after Hercules is kind of a difficult thing when you’re skinny, but that was it.

Then of course the actors at the time, I was just drawn to heroes like Kirk Douglas in The Vikings. That primarily was it.

But when Arnold and I got into the action genre, there really wasn’t an action genre. There’d be car chases and there’d be maybe a fist fight, but the actual genre is something that just grew up around us. We were pretty instrumental in it, but unwearyingly so, it just happened.

Arnold: I remember when I was around 14/15 years old I got to that age where physical strength and athletics, and looking like a he-man and all this stuff, really started meaning a lot to me. So I also watched Hercules movies. One guy in particular, Reg Park, which is a British bodybuilder who became Mr. Universe at a very young age, then won it a second time and a third time. Then landed in Rome and did Hercules movies.

So I thought he was my idol. I read everything about Reg Park and followed his footsteps and trained like him. I said “If he can make it, I can make it.” It was a blueprint, basically, of how to get there, how to win the championships. Here was the training laid out, this is how you get into movies, become a Mr. Universe and then make Hercules movies. I thought “This is terrific; this is exactly the route I’m going to go.”

So yes, he was an idol; he was a very important motivating factor for me that gave me a vision of where I could go and how I could get there. Then of course there was American stars, obviously Kirk Douglas, but John Wayne comes to my mind, I saw a lot of the John Wayne movies that were very heroic to me. So it was that age and they were very inspirational.

I took it a step further than most kids did that said “I like that, I’m going to go and work out a little bit.” To me it was right away “I’m going to win the championship; I’m going to get in the movies; I’m going to make millions of dollars like Reg Park. I’m going to get into the gym business; I’m going to have exactly the same life he has.” That’s what I did. I took it that little step further.

Interviewer: This is going to have to be the last question, ladies and gentlemen; I’m really sorry to those of you who had your hands up and we didn’t get to you. Time has been against us. Marian, please.

Female:                    You’ve had such a varied career with bodybuilding, acting, politics. What has life taught you? What have you learnt from life?

Arnold: I think most of my lessons that I learnt are from sports. I think that’s why I always emphasise to young kids, “Get involved in sports, because that’s where you learn about discipline; that’s where you learn about ‘Never listen to no’ or ‘it’s impossible’ or ‘you can’t make it’ because you can.” I’ve heard all my life that “This is impossible; you can’t make it; you will fail.” I didn’t listen to that and I made it.

You also learn how to get up when you fail and when you fall. As we go through life you will never be successful in everything. I remember as a lifter, the amount of times I tried to lift 500lbs on a bench press and I failed and I failed and I failed. But then one day at the German champions in power-lifting I lifted a bench press of 500lbs, after 10 times failing.

That’s why I remember in politics when we tried to do let’s say a policy like redistricting in California, or something like that, and we failed five times. The press ask me “Don’t you understand that people say ‘No, it’s over, don’t try it again’?” I said “Look, I failed in lifting so many times, I came back and then I did it. The same will be with this.” Sure enough in this particular instance, the sixth time, we won.

So you learn never to give up. So there’s a lot of important lessons that you learn in all of this. You have to have vision. No matter what you do in life, you have to have first the vision. You have to see your goal, you have to believe in it, you have to have faith in it, you have to chase it. Then it is fun to chase it. That is I think the most important thing. If you have no goal, if you have no vision, you’ve nothing. That’s what I’ve learnt.

Sylvester Stallone: It’s true.

Interviewer: Well, I think we’ve all enjoyed the vision for The Expendables 2. Ladies and gentlemen, our guests this morning.

Sylvester Stallone: Thank you.

 

Phil’s 5 Worst Films of 2012

Phil’s 5 Worst Films of 2012

Quick Review Year In Review

Stinker Of The Year: Ghost Rider 2: Spirit Of Vengeance  (2/10)
In Brief: Ha!  This was a joke right?  An April fool? Because if you thought Ghost Rider was bad (it was) and couldn’t get any worse, then this film will amaze you just to the depths that Nic Cage can stoop.  For everything that was right about Avengers, GR2 gets wrong.  Just terrible.

2. Cold Light of Day 
In Brief: Oh god this film was dull.  A dull lead performance, a dull story, a dull set of action set pieces… dull, dull, dull.  It was so dull I originally forgot to put it on my list.

3. Wrath Of The Titans 
In Brief: I liked Clash of The Titans for my sins.  I hated Wrath.  Yes hated.  I know that’s a strong word but my god for a sub 90 min film I have never been so bored.   Bad 3D, bad story, bad acting, bad… just bad.

4. Dark Shadows 
In Brief: Tom Burton’s worse film by a country mile, this film’s strange tone,  over blown performances and seeing the same bloody cast in every movie is getting old now.  Tim… time to mix it up again.

5.  Prometheus 
In Brief: THE most disappointing film of this year and actually one of the most stupid.  Hopes were high and every single one of them was dashed.  The is it isn’t it prequel to Alien ended up being so stupid that  even it’s amazing photography couldn’t save it

Bubbling Under:
Bourne Legacy; Snow White & The Huntsman; Taken 2; Abraham Lincoln Vampire Hunter; The Tall Man; Monster Brawl; Silent House; Underworld Awakening 

Phil’s 5 Worst Films of 2011

Phil’s 5 Worst Films of 2011

Quick Review Year In Review

STINKER OF THE YEAR: Transformers 3: Dark Of The Moon (2/10)
In Brief: Simply put everything that is wrong with Hollywood today.  Vacuous, pointless and dull, this loud, obnoxious $250 million abortion of a movie was just dire. And yet it made lots of money,.  Go figure.

2. Sucker Punch
In Brief: Uncomfortable to watch without feeling more than a bit dirty, Sucker Punch was style over substance and ended up being just dull. One to avoid for everyone other than horney teenagers who haven’t yet discovered pornography.

3. Rubber
In Brief: If like my films off the wall. I like them mad as a box of frogs. But Rubber was just pointless, pretentious tripe.

4. Scream 4
I
n Brief: The shark jumped, this was a sequel that was just not needed. Most Scary thing: Courtney Cox’s botox face. Nasty.

5. Season of The Witch
In Brief: Nick Cage makes another stinker and drags Ron Pearlman with him. Just dull, dull, dull.