close-in fighting scenes ....

Discussion in 'Movies' started by Ted Lee, Jul 7, 2005.

  1. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    hi all -

    it seems to me that a lot of fighting scenes these days are shot really close-in. it's like we see a lot of arms flailing about, a lot of heads getting popped back, legs kicking wildly, etc .... but we never see it from a long-shot. so i never know if the actors are really pulling off these long, fluid moves.

    batman begins is a good example. a lot of his fighting was close-in ... so i didn't really get the full "sense" of his ass-kicking. [​IMG] to me, it just seems like really slick editing. still enjoyable ... but just not as realistic.

    compare that to something like house of flying daggers (minus all the wire-fu stuff) ... a lot of those scenes showed the actors with full body shots. to me that just seems more "believable".

    anyway, just curious what you all think.

    ted
     
  2. Chris Mannes

    Chris Mannes Stunt Coordinator

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    My thought is that they're trying to make you feel more like a participant, than just an observer.

    Although I'll agree, I'm not a huge fan. Loved Batman, wished the fights were clearer.
     
  3. Scott_D

    Scott_D Stunt Coordinator

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    When the Bourne Identity came out, I thought it would be good to have batman fight like that. It was fantastic how Bourne could disarm and neutralise an opponent so quickly, just as batman should be able to do. But perhaps with a bit more martial arts involved.

    The bourne supremacy went the other way, and had bad fights, compared to the first one, imho.
     
  4. Ryan L. Bisasky

    Ryan L. Bisasky Second Unit

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    i just watched the punisher for the umpteenth time (the new version) and the fight against the russian was done with more wider shots.
     
  5. Cameron Yee

    Cameron Yee Executive Producer
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    My assumption has always been the close-in fighting has been to mask the inexperience and physical limitations of the actors. I can understand it with untrained actors but find it unforgivable when the same is done for someone like Jet Li. The first Batman fight I thought was appropriate since the POV was the criminals on the dock, but subsequent ones had no narrative reason to continue that.
     
  6. Ted Lee

    Ted Lee Lead Actor

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    yup...pretty much my thought as well. [​IMG]
     
  7. Adam_S

    Adam_S Producer

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    When in doubt, figure its the budget.

    I bet the fights in Batman were constructed so the editing did the fighting because they didn't want to have to rehearse seven-on-one fights, much less pay through the teeth to have it put together by a talented fight choreographer and train the lead star.
     
  8. AlexCremers

    AlexCremers Second Unit

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    But Christian Bale, known for the most close-in fighting scenes ever in Batman Begins, demonstrates in Equilibrium that he has got what it takes to play the lead in a fight film. At least, that's how I remember it.
     
  9. Leo Kerr

    Leo Kerr Screenwriter

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    There are other cost considerations, too.

    If you've only built so much set in the studio, if you back out to show the 'whole fight,' you're also going to show the sound-stage walls.

    Then there are the people who really don't care about the theatrical experience, and shoot for the 27" screen.

    I know we're not supposed to talk about ROTS outside of an official ROTS thread, but I thought all of their fights were intentionally 'close' because...

    Given the camera lenses that they had for that (cough-cine-alta-cough) camera, they could only get so far away from the action before they hit the walls of the blue-screen stage.

    Leo
     
  10. Andy Sheets

    Andy Sheets Cinematographer

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    I think part of it is nervousness about what can be done to stay within the precious PG-13 rating, so a lot of directors are going for fights that suggest a lot but show very little.

    Part of the problem is also that the philosophy in western filmmaking is that you need to get in close because the drama plays out on the actors' faces, so directors will tend to close in even further instead of pulling back.
     
  11. JamieD

    JamieD Supporting Actor

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    Maybe it's just me, but I could sworn there has been about 10 of these threads already.

    Though maybe that was just derailment of threads about Batman,Bourne, etc.
     
  12. David Rogers

    David Rogers Supporting Actor

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    Close camera work in a fight is only to hide things from the audience. Among the items likely to be found should you dig into an incomprehensibly close fight shot might be:

    * crappy fight chorography
    * poorly trained actors / stuntmen
    * actors having been replaced by stuntmen
    * set limitations (wires, pads, unfinished sets)
    * editing used to construct fight events

    A film that has real fights will show you, because they're proud. There are a few isolated circumstances where it serves the story to show a cramped, unhelpful, non-visual version of a fight; but usually if there's conflict of the hand-to-hand combat variety, it SHOULD BE ON SCREEN in such a manner that the audience can track and follow the fight events.

    To do otherwise is lazy, uninspired, inept, and just plain bad filmmaking.

    Further, editing is very often used to construct a fight. What's a editing constructing fight scene? That's where you have two actors squaring off for a fight. They do their little thing. What you see after the demon-be-dammed "editors" get done is Vic the Villain pulling his arm back for a punch, cut to a shot of the punch starting, cut to another shot of the punch continuing, cut again to an impact shot of fist against chin, cut to shot of Hank the Hero reacting by staggering back, then cut to another shot of Hank collapsing.

    That's more cuts than you can find a deli, and it's really damned stupid when you consider all they had to do was take a day or two with the actors and the stunt coordinator to learn how to react to a punch or a kick, and then simply stand back out of frame and yell action.

    Directors should not bother with a fight scene at all if they're not going to actually bother; either do or do not, there is no try. These close up, quick cut pieces of crap that've been cropping up lately are ruining excellent movies over the simplest thing to get right.

    I loved Batman, but this is *despite* the absolutely horrible fights. Usually fights that bad are an instant downcheck for a film from me; that's how *good* the rest of Batman is, compared to how bad the fights are. [​IMG]

    Other flicks recently with really really really really bad fight chorography include The Rundown and Bulletproof Monk.
     
  13. Russell G

    Russell G Fake Shemp

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    I've had a rather long discussion about Batman Begins with some friends, each who have trained in some kind of martial arts. I'm of the opinion that the fights in Batman Begins is a stylistic choice by the film makers. Batman in this movie is a shadowy, scary figure, who jumps out of the shadows and drops guys, not a guy who walks up and squars off against the villians. My only complaint in BB was the final battle in the subway car, where this stylistic choice just didn't work. And I completly agree, close multi edited fight scenes are a great way to hide mistakes/incompetence. I'm in the minority on enjoying the fight scenes in BB, all my friends where disappointed. I agree, they where not the greatest fight scenes ever captured on film, but they where highly effective for the tone of the picture.

    I think the most realistic in fighting is in a unusaul picture : "Thriller: A Cruel Picture". This film is NOT for everyone (hell, it probably isn't for anyone!) but the martial arts training was very realistic. The central character gets trained in either akido or hapkido, they never say which, and from my meager month experiance in hapkido, I could easilly recognize her training. No breaking boards, or kicking stone pillars in these montages, but lots of the central character getting twisted into different locks and even doing break falls! And later in the film, when we see her putting her training to use on 2 baddies, it's in a one shot where we can see her and the 2 attackers in full frame from head to toe, in slow motion. It's a little cheesy, but really realistic. Again, DON'T RUSH OUT AND GET THIS FILM TO SEE THE FIGHT! It's one scene in a film where a girl get's her eye knifed out, forced on heroine and into prostitution, with hardcore porn cut into it. A very ugly little film.
     
  14. Robert Ringwald

    Robert Ringwald Cinematographer

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    I was just thinking this when I saw Mr. and Mrs. Smith last night. I was thinking to myself "I've seen better choreographed fights on ALIAS and Buffy the Vampire Slayer... you're telling me they can't put the time and energy into that?
     
  15. Leo Kerr

    Leo Kerr Screenwriter

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    Note: I've not seen Batman Begins, although I may do so.



    The fight itself need not be a formal 'squaring off' ritualistic fight that reads just as unrealistic as a poorly edited non-fight. Particularly with something 'shadowy' as a Batman film, the fights could be obscure 'long-shots' as if seen via a (good) security camera. Depending upon the sets and creativity of the production team, this could be an effective technique - and still be 'high energy' or 'surprising.'

    Leo
     
  16. Nigel McN

    Nigel McN Supporting Actor

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    I remember while watching Volcano High that I was a little dissapointed with the final fights, as they seemed a lot closer in and claustrophopic than they had been at the beginning. At least that was the impression I got. Might have been to do with the fact that if I recall correctly the final fight was during a storm, so it might have technical or safety reasons for the change.
     
  17. Jacinto

    Jacinto Second Unit

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    I don't understand what everyone is talking about when they want "realistic fights". Have you ever seen a real fight? They usually start and end with one hit. They're quick, they're choppy, and their over. IMO, if you hire an expert fight choreographer, you are going for the exact opposite of a realism.
     
  18. Russell G

    Russell G Fake Shemp

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    Jacinto, really good point about fight realism. Real fights are typically one punch and a lot of rolling around.



    Good point Nigel, and I really think we will see something more in the lines of this in an upcoming film. I think in this one, at the start of Batmans career, and in a film that is all about fear, intimidation and creating a legend, the creators where more concerned with showing Batman as a mythic force, and showing how the baddies gained the fear they have for Bats, and how the Batman legend grew. In the fight scenes, we can't really tell whats happening, neither can the baddies who are seeing Bats for the first time. This is why I think it fits the film.

    Don't get me wrong,I would of loved to have seen an ass kicking Batman displaying the stff he does in the comics, and I well think we well see this in a later movie, once Batman himself completely finds his place as a crime fighter.
     
  19. Tim-H.

    Tim-H. Second Unit

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    I read this thread yesterday & it inspired a dream (sad but true): I was on the set of Batman Begins while they were filming a fight scene. Bale was suited up, as were 2 doubles, and they were criss-crossing in front of the camera as they fought various villains, in order to get a fast back & forth feel despite the limitations of the suit. (One of the Bat-doubles was wearing a blue cowl & gray suit, but that didn't seem to be a problem.) I thought "Ah-ha, no wonder they couldn't pull back, there are 3 different Batmen on set!" It seemed like a perfect explanation--until I woke up that is.
    Regarding 'realistic' fights, I think of the one in 'The Yards'. I loved the fights in 'Bourne Identity' and 'Transporter' for having a 'down & dirty' feel, even if choreographed.
     
  20. Robert Ringwald

    Robert Ringwald Cinematographer

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    It certainly would have added to the fun of Mr. and Mrs. Smith to have some cool fight scenes as opposed to the rather by-the-numbers one used in the house scene...

    Still a great movie though.
     

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