Halloween (2018) – A Quick Capsule Review

Halloween (2018) – A Quick Capsule Review

Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
Halloween 2018 is a film of three halves.  The first part sets up the premise nicely – that Michael went to jail after the original and that the sequels (and the family link to Strode) didn’t exist.  Not a bad thing.  It’s a creepy and effective set up.  It’s the middle part where the film looses it’s way a bit, falling into the trappings of the film’s it’s trying to ignore.  Thankfully it pulls it back with an uber creepy last section which ties together the strings nicely and ends up leaving the film with a neat ending… should it wish to walk away.  Overall it’s well worth seeing and one of the better Halloween movies.

Best Bit: The house

Cinema, Stream, Avoid: Cinema

If You Liked this Try: Halloween, Halloween 3: Season Of The Witch, Wes Craven’s New Nightmare

 


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Podcast: Ross And Phil Talk… Halloween 2018 (InstaTake)

Podcast: Ross And Phil Talk… Halloween 2018 (InstaTake)

Ross and Phil Talk Movies The Podcasts

 

On this episode of the podcast Phil (Ross is away shooting Vengeance 2) delivers his InstaTake on the 2018 version of Halloween.  Excuse the sound – it’s done in the car!

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

Films Discussed: Halloween, Rob Zombie’s Halloween, A New Nightmare

#RossAndPhil #RossAndPhilTalkMovies #MoviePodcasts #Podcasts

For more on Phil Hobden check out www.philhobden.co.uk , Twitter (@PhilQuickReview) and Instagram (RossAndPhilTalkMovies)
For more on Ross Boyask search @RossBoyask on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook

   

 


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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 

Big Trouble In Little China – A Hall Of Fame Quick Capsule Review

Big Trouble In Little China – A Hall Of Fame Quick Capsule Review

Hall of Fame Quick Review

Phil’s Quick Capsule Review:
Big Trouble In Little China is a classic.  Kurt Russell as Jack Burton delivers what is a quintessential action hero: mullet adorned, grizzled and full of gusto.  He sits along side John McClane & Martin Riggs as one of 80’s cinemas best good guys and whilst Big Trouble In Little China has aged (it’s smaller budget stretched to the limit at times)this martial arts science fiction action fantasy still stands as one of the most enjoyable (and daft) films of the decade.  A must watch.

Best Bit: Russell/Burton steals every scene

Buy, Stream, Avoid: Buy

If You Liked this Try: Escape From New York, The Golden Child, Lethal Weapon

IMDB Rating: 

 

Author: Phil Hobden

 

Blog: Grosse Point Geek’s Top Ten(ish) Favorite Horror Films  – A Halloween Special

Blog: Grosse Point Geek’s Top Ten(ish) Favorite Horror Films – A Halloween Special

Grosse Point Geek Uncategorized

Halloween, that yearly celebration of devil worship, blood drenched supernatural death and goat sacrifice ,where children up and down the land merrily dress up as various incarnations of the undead, get their parents consent to bang on people’s doors begging for sweets and then wantonly vandalize their property if the poor sods don’t cough up the goods.  Indeed my own fiendish plan to scare off the little bastards this year was completely thwarted the other day by a rather nervous looking shop assistant at my local joke shop, who claimed never to have heard of the Evil Dead and therefore could sadly not supply me with a life size demon doll that would scream “dead by dawn!” at any bunch of trick or treaters foolish enough to disturb my evening.

Anyway, I’m getting off the point. As a lifelong film geek its fair to say that of the many thousands that I have watched, a good proportion have been firmly rooted in the department marked ‘Horror’. Now admittedly I’m not the biggest fan of this genre -I didn’t enjoy the Nightmare On Elm Street series (how a child killer could become a cult icon is beyond me), have never been able to fathom the popularity of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and have absolutely no desire to watch the likes on I Spit On Your Grave, Driller Killer or Last House on The Left.

However, there are in fact some rather good ones out there that I have thoroughly enjoyed and even have in my rather huge dvd collection – and as Halloween is soon to be upon us, i thought id share with you all my top 10 favourite horror films all time- read on if you dare!

 


 

1. The Descent (2005)

 

Director: Neil Marshall

Actors: Shauna McDonald, Natalie Mendoza

A definite contender for one of the scariest films ever made. Neil Marshall’s magnum opus centres on a group of female thrill seekers who get trapped underground in the Appalachian mountains and then one by one fall foul to a bloodthirsty pack of cave dwelling cannibals. I must have seen this ten times over and it still scares the crap out of me, superbly written, hideously claustrophobic, well acted by the no name cast, directed with panache, skill and verve by Marshall and certainly not one to watch alone.

Best Bit: When the creatures finally reveal themselves – don’t look down that camera lens!

 

 

2. Alien (1979)

Director: Ridley Scott

Actors: Sigourney Weaver, Tom Skerritt, Harry Dean Stanton, Ian Holm, Yaphett Kotto, Veronica Cartwright.

A deep space mining vessel responds to an apparent distress signal from a nearby planetoid and goes to investigate. All is going well until one of the crew (John Hurt) gets a sort of parasite attached his face and is taken on board the ship for medical assistance – big mistake. A near perfect film that combines scares, body horror and classic sci fi plus HR Giger’s astoundingly horrible alien monster that would give even Freddy Krueger the willies.

Best Bit: The Chestburster scene – (“the food aint that bad baby!”)

 

 

3. The Omen (1976)

 

Director: Richard Donner

Actors: Gregory Peck, Patrick Troughton, Lee Remick, David Warner.

When the American Ambassador to Britain (Peck) discovers that his infant son is none other than the Antichrist, he teams up with a freelance photographer (Warner) to discover the awful truth and thwart Satan’s evil plans for mankind.

This one always manages to put the frighteners on me – mainly due to Jerry Goldsmiths nerve jangling score and Richard Donner’s suspenseful direction that very intelligently chooses to be less concerned about daft monsters and OTT effects and more to do with the nature of fear and lurking danger hiding in the shadows, which cleverly manages to keep the viewer guessing as to whether or not the story is all real or just a series of supposed coincidences.

Best bit: That final shot – Young Damien, standing at his parents funeral (whilst holding the US Presidents hand no less) – turns to the camera…………..and just smiles.

 

4. The Exorcist (1973)
Director: William Friedkin

Actors: Linda Blair, Max Von Sydow, Ellen Burstyn, Jason Miller.

Celebrated critic Mark Kermode cites this as his favourite film ever – and its not hard to see why. Cherubic looking Regan (Blair) becomes possessed by the demon Pazuzu, then proceeds to speak in tongues, levitate off the bed, vomit pea soup, make unseemly suggestions about exactly what Priest Jason Miller’s dead mother is up to in hell – and don’t even get me started on what she does with that crucifix!

To say the least the Exorcist is one of those films that gets better with every viewing, Friedkin’s direction doesn’t put a foot wrong, the make up and sound effects are still astounding, and the use of Mike Oldfield’s Tubular Bells is a work of sheer genius.

Best bit: The climactic Exorcism sequence, where the two Jesuit priests do epic battle with the demon- very uncomfortable to watch – but brilliant nonetheless.

 

5.The Thing (1982)

Director: John Carpenter

Actors: Kurt Russell, Wilford Brimley, Keith David.

A critical and commercial disappointment on its release, this has since become a deserved cult classic. For those not in the know – a shape shifting alien life form gradually infects the men of an Antarctic research station, who then not only have to attempt to destroy said beastie but also avoid killing each other in the process.

Best bit: That ending  – too exhausted to carry on, Kurt Russell and Keith David sit outside in the freezing Arctic cold and watch the station burn to the ground  – both still unsure if they too have been infected by the alien (“lets just wait…..and see what happens”)

 

6.Poltergeist (1982)

Director: Tobe Hooper

Actors: Jo-beth Williams, Craig T Nelson, Heather O’Rourke

Awesome film  – written and produced by Steven Spielberg, Poltergeist tells the story of how an ordinary apple pie American family are haunted by a terrible supernatural force that turns their lives upside down when it abducts their youngest daughter (O’Rourke). Now some may argue that this is more of a ghost story than a straight up horror  – but with shocks aplenty, rotting corpses rising from the grave, killer trees and huge monsters appearing out of the ether – it’d be hard to call it anything else. Basically if you haven’t seen this yet then shame on you!

Best bit: Williams, Nelson and the ghost hunting team’s final nail biting attempt to rescue O’Rourke from the clutches of the poltergeist(“don’t let go!”)

 

7 .An American Werewolf In London (1981)

Director: John Landis

Actors: David Naughton, Griffin Dunne, Jenny Agutter

Naughton and Dunne are two American students on a back packing trip to England who proceed to get lost on the Yorkshire moors and are attacked by a werewolf. Rick Baker’s make up effects deservedly won a bunch of awards and are still impressive even by today’s standards. Its also seriously funny, and damned scary in parts too- most notably the scene at the beginning where the boys are attacked on the moors, and THAT sequence in the deserted London tube station (“i shall report this”!).

Best Bit: The Slaughtered Lamb – Naughton and Dunne walk into East Proctor’s local boozer looking for something to eat, only to be met with stony silence and icy stares by a very unwelcoming bunch of locals. The tension doesn’t last long though as the great Brian Glover proceeds to loudly tell a hilarious joke about 3 blokes in a crashing plane (“he chucks out the Mexican!”) which results in the entire pub collapsing in fits of laughter (just dont ask what that star on the wall is).

 

8.Horror Of Dracula (1958)

Director: Terrence Fisher

Actors: Peter Cushing, Christopher Lee, Michael Gough.

Hammer’s extremely loose take on the Bram Stoker classic features Peter Cushing as Van Helsing (endless supply of crucifixes) Christopher Lee as Dracula (iffy fangs, silly run) a mad music score by James Bernard, clunky sets, and daft dialogue (“but its HORRIBLE!”). However none of this matters as its enormous fun, chugs along at a rare old pace and never fails to bring a big smile to my face every time ive watched it.

Best Bit: The seriously exciting climactic showdown between Van Helsing and Dracula, involving a table, some curtains, a handy set of candlesticks and alot of sunlight- classic stuff.

 

9.The Fog (1980)

Director: John Carpenter

Actors: Jamie Lee Curtis, Adrienne Barbeau, Tom Atkins.

On the eve of its centenary celebrations – a small Californian fishing community is plagued by a mysterious fog that kills all in its wake. Another Carpenter classic, well made and very creepy  – a must for all horror fans.

Best bit: The Sea Grass boat scene (“hey, there’s a fog bank out there”).

 

 

10. Dawn of The Dead (2004)

Director: Zach Snyder

Actors: Sarah Polley, Ving Rhames, Jake Weber.

Remake of the 1978 Romero classic – which is a very good film, however (and yes Hobden i know this is sacrilege!) i much prefer Snyder’s more polished version that ups the scares and gore quota, throws in bags of action, is better acted and features some really awesome zombies who, rather than mindlessly shuffle about, are depicted as vicious screaming death machines who charge full pelt to get at their victims.

Best bit: Just after Sarah Polley’s nurse escapes from her neighbourhood which has been overrun, the camera pulls back and shows us a birds eye view of her car heading towards a city in utter chaos.

 

 

11.Halloween 3: The Season Of The Witch (1982)

Director: Tommy Lee Wallace

Actors: Dan O’Herlihy, Tom Atkins.

I thought i close this feature with one of my all time favourites  – i mean what’s a film list without at least one guilty pleasure???

Bearing no relation to the series featuring the Michael Myers character  – this was supposed to kick off a new ‘Halloween’ franchise that would tell a different story with each film. Unfortunately poor box office sales put the kibosh on that, so what we have instead is a very weird (and utterly mental) standalone story featuring O’Herlihy’s unhinged Irish toy maker, who plans to murder all the children in America using booby trapped Halloween masks. Now in my humble opinion this is an unappreciated gem of a film, that is actually extremely well made, with an interesting witchcraft subplot and a doozy of an ending that has to be seen to be believed……………………………..All together now – “one more day to Halloween!…..Halloween! Halloween! one more day to Halloween -silveeeeershamrock!

Best Bit: O’Herlihy’s chilling confession to a somewhat shocked Atkins, about who he really is and exactly what he plans to do on his favourite night of the year (“….the hills ran red with the blood of children and animals!”)

 


 

There you go – my top ten horror films – certainly all worth a watch if you fancy a good scare this Halloween – just wish i had one of the zombies from Dawn of the Dead to see off those bleedin’ trick or treaters – oh bugger there goes the door again………………now where did i put that bucket of fresh pigs blood???????????????

Author: Will Strong 

 

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