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Is the use of wires in action films distracting?

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#1 of 20 OFFLINE   DouglasRobert


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Posted May 17 2004 - 03:35 AM

In a lot of action films now they use wires to "improve" the action scenes. Such as in X-Men and The Matrix films. In the Computer world or Superhero films I can accept the reality of their ability. But when it is used in films with regular humans and they're fighting and jumping around or crawling along walls and unbelivable maneuvers I just don't accept it. There was a Steven Seagal on Cable yesterday called Out for a Kill. There was a scene where he is fighting a bad guy in a room and the bad guy is crawling along the walls and jumping up to the celing and such. When I saw this I was cracking up. It was so unrealsitic that it was funny. Does anybody else think that the use of wires in action films is too excessive?

#2 of 20 OFFLINE   RobertR


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Posted May 17 2004 - 03:42 AM

Yes. When I see obvious use of wires, it screams out at me "it's fake! It's just a movie!", and takes me out of whatever drama or impact it was supposed to have.

#3 of 20 OFFLINE   Jason Seaver

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Posted May 17 2004 - 03:58 AM

I can't say it really bothers me in and of itself; it's a tool that can be used for good or ill. I don't see the need for movies to be realistic. What I do expect is a certain amount of consistency and competence. If a movie goes all wire-fu in the last fifteen minutes despite being grounded for the first hour and a half, then it feels like a cheat. And if the fight choreographers and director aren't making a visually interesting action sequence, it doesn't matter whether they're using wires or not.
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#4 of 20 OFFLINE   Rob Gardiner

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Posted May 17 2004 - 05:30 AM

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#5 of 20 OFFLINE   TheLongshot



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Posted May 17 2004 - 05:44 AM

Actually, what annoys me more is using CGI for fights. The main example that comes to mind is Romeo Must Die, where they CGed Jet Li doing stuff that was clearly impossible. I also feel the same of the later half of the Burly Brawl as well. If you are going to show me fights, show me fights, not video games. Jason

#6 of 20 OFFLINE   DaveBB


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Posted May 18 2004 - 03:40 AM

Is it just me or are they using wires in some of Brad Pitt's fight scenes in "Troy"?

#7 of 20 OFFLINE   Brian Johnson

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Posted May 18 2004 - 07:05 AM

It's actually worse when you see the wires (which I thought this thread was going to be about). I was watching Stargate (a movie that gets regular playtime) and in one scene one of the "bad guys" ships comes across the screen, the models wires clearly showing. Talk about taking you out of the moment (as I had to rewind & watch it again).
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#8 of 20 OFFLINE   Ray Faiola

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Posted May 19 2004 - 06:37 AM

I think the most obvious and distracting use of wires is in ADAM'S RIB when Hope Emerson lifts Spencer Tracy off the ground.

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#9 of 20 OFFLINE   Jason_Els



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Posted May 19 2004 - 07:10 AM

Wire fu isn't always bad. I thought it was wonderful in Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. Being set in a mythical era made the flying seem believable. It also helps that the flying done was well-choreographed; Jade Fox seemed particularly graceful on the wires. Even The Matrix had some great wire fu scenes that were innovative without being obvious.

Wire fu is like any other special effect in it must be subservient to the storyline, never an end in itself. Done with skill and restraint in the appropriate context and it's actually quite entertaining.
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#10 of 20 OFFLINE   Ken Chan

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Posted May 19 2004 - 07:16 AM

To me, it's not about the wires per se. It's about gravity, and whether the character is supposed to be leaping or flying. I know it's done with wires or CGI, it just has to look right.

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#11 of 20 OFFLINE   TheLongshot



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Posted May 19 2004 - 03:48 PM

Well, the impression is to say that there was so much force, that there is no time to go down.

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#12 of 20 OFFLINE   Yee-Ming



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Posted May 19 2004 - 03:59 PM

IMHO, the problem is wire-fu is being done excessively, and by "non-pros". When done with/by real martial arts exponents, you almost don't realise that wires are being used, because from everything going on, you could just about suspend disbelief that the person in question could, for instance, jump that high, or drop so far without getting hurt. It's all about the artist's reaction, e.g. when landing you still have to "land" with a noticeable "thump", whereas bad wire-fu you can see the person was gently lowered to a standstill. Hopefully you get what I mean by this? I must say, Crouching Tiger, when they were fighting in the bamboo grove, was an example where it was rather obvious they were suspended. Whereas if you watch any Jet Li movie done in Hong Kong, in particular the Once Upon A Time In China series, or Fong Sai Yuk, you could actually believe he was physically doing what you saw.

#13 of 20 OFFLINE   Ricardo C

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Posted May 19 2004 - 07:08 PM

It can be annoying when it's poorly done (the first X-Men movie, Daredevil), but it can also be an integral part of a film's appeal (The Matrix). Like everything else, it's just a tool. It's the talent of the artists that counts.
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#14 of 20 OFFLINE   Seth Paxton

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Posted May 20 2004 - 09:34 AM

Yeah, I could never get over the wire work in War of the Worlds.

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#15 of 20 OFFLINE   Zen Butler

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Posted May 20 2004 - 09:50 AM

Wi-Fi ?


#16 of 20 OFFLINE   Dennis Nicholls

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Posted May 20 2004 - 03:33 PM

Somebody mention Wi-Fi?

Sometimes the wire is an important part of the story. Didn't you guys ever see The Great Escape? Posted Image
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#17 of 20 OFFLINE   Stephen_L


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Posted May 21 2004 - 07:56 AM

If wire work is being used in a semi-realistic film, I like the wired characters to still obey the basic laws of physics. If a character is hurled or leaps through the air, they should follow a parabolic course (the Deathstrike-Wolverine fight failed in this) The action should occur at a speed that would make the leap minimally believable. "Crouching Tiger"'s wire work was fun because it was in the fanciful context of magical martial arts skill. "The Matrix" was good because the characters generally moved very fast and followed parabolic arcs. It was also clever to use slo-mo for some wire work so that the action need not occur at realistic speeds. Morpheus's leap in the dojo program and Neo's run up the wall are good examples. Morpheus and Trinity's leaps between buildings had enough velocity and effort on the characters part to make them appear realistic. My favorite wire work in the film is in the opening when Trinity is attacked by cops and she just runs around a wall corner with such speed I almost believed she could do it.
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#18 of 20 OFFLINE   Mark Oates

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Posted May 21 2004 - 11:06 AM

I'm depressed wire-work has become so prevalent in movies. It's nothing to do with "taking me out of the moment" - frankly if you can't watch a movie without accepting the paradigm of the moment, maybe you shouldn't watch movies. What gets me down is Hollywood's belief in magic - that martial arts can make you fly/ make you bulletproof or teach you the secrets of the universe; that laptop computers can do the sort of thing that would rupture a supercomputer in the real world; that you can generate perfect holograms in mid air - you know - the Scooby Doo grip on reality. I don't appreciate being treated like a moron. I love stupid movies - the stupider the better - but I hate it when Hollywood starts changing the laws of physics to suit itself. It's one thing to make somebody fly in a fantasy, but quite another to make Drew Barrymore (bless her) defy gravity.
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#19 of 20 OFFLINE   George_W_K



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Posted May 21 2004 - 11:40 AM

I'm in total agreement with the original post. I don't mind wire work when it fits the story and is done correctly, but I can't stand it when it is overused and used in situations that don't make sense. I didn't see that Steven Segal movie, but that would've ruined it for me. I hated Crouching Tiger, partly because of the wire work, and partly because I couldn't get into the story at all. (Although, some of the wire work was well done, I couldn't stand the leaping off of the water, the bamboo scene, the Spiderman type crawls.)

As for the Jet Li movies, I loved the use of the wire work in Fist of Legend. Most of those fights seemed like they could happen with the exception of a few moves, but nothing that distracted me at all. And movies like his Twin Warriors, I expect the fantasy involved and it really fits in my opinion. (Although, not wire-fu, the scene in Twin Warriors where the monks are standing on their heads was pretty funny because the boards holding them upright were so obvious.Posted Image )

I have to agree that the effect, when used properly in just like any other effect in movies, it enhances the storytelling and entertainment of the film. But, when overused (i.e. every fight scene since the Matrix has to be done wire-fu stylePosted Image) it does become distracting.

Good Uses of Wires Work IMO:

Matrix, X-Men movies, The Rundown, Fist of Legend

Bad Uses IMO:

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon (hey, I know I'm in the minority in disliking this movie), any Jackie Chan movie that makes it obvious (I like the when he does his own stunts/fights), God, now my mind's gone blank! I'll have to add in some more later.

#20 of 20 OFFLINE   Jason_Els



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Posted May 21 2004 - 06:46 PM

Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is worth defending here. I loved the flying scenes because they were so beautifully done. I loved seeing Jade Fox flying backwards spinning the ribbon, the jumping on the water, and definitely the bamboo scene. Xiou Long's spinning up onto the second floor of the restaurant was striking. All the choreography is just eye-candy. The story is from a mythical period in China where the supernatural is all around. Complaining about the flying in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon is like complaining about dragons and wizards in Arthurian-era stories.

I have remarkable admiration for the fluidity of Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. The blocking, editing, cinematography, costuming, acting, and certainly the choreography produce a stunning film where nearly every scene has an eye-popping shot of such beauty that it doesn't seem possible. It's that intense care by all involved that makes Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon feel like a myth right out of the shadows of the old mysterious Orient of history.

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