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Preparing the Fight: 'The Scorpion King' (2002)

Chuck Russell explains the amount of work that goes into choreographing, practicing and performing the various fight scenes for The Scorpion King.


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Chuck Russell explains the amount of work that goes into choreographing, practicing and performing the various fight scenes for The Scorpion King.

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Documentary | Short





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1 October 2002 (USA)  »

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Storyteller Chuck
16 August 2009 | by (Rijswijk (ZH), The Netherlands) – See all my reviews

One thing about Chuck Russell, director of A Nightmare on Elm Street 3 (the one with Patricia Aquette and Lawrence Fishburne), The Mask (he discovered Cameron Diaz) and The Scorpion King (he made the Rock a movie star): he sure knows how to verbalize what goes into the making of a scene. There are two short documentaries stuck together under the heading 'Shooting a Fight Sequence' on the Scorpion King DVD, the first and longest of which is 'Prepairing the Fight'.

According to Chuck, it takes several steps to train an actor skills with a sword and other ancient weapons. For every fight tells a story. As the director, Russell needs to know the subtext, all the action hooks, how to build up to a climax and how to make each fight sequence something special. And on top of that the actors didn't have a lot of time to hone their skills beforehand. To make each fight stand out, different coordinators were assigned to each one: Al Leong for the main sword fights, Andy Cheng for hand to hand combat and second unit director Billy Burton also chipped in.

Preparing for his role as the evil Memnon, Steven Brand did most of the training with sword-master Leong and found himself having to adjust his moves when he finally faced the substantially taller leading man, The Rock. And no matter how well each fight was choreographed beforehand, as soon as the participants arrive on set, things have to be changed once more to incorporate the new surroundings.

We get to see some of the final staging being done on set and notice a few rather out of place looking men in suits sitting on the sidelines watching the proceedings. Also of note is the fact that one of Memnon's guards, who in the film bears a striking resemblance to Michael Clarke Duncan, is seen without his helmet here, proving that it is definitely a totally different person.

Still, it's the silver tongued storyteller named Chuck who binds the entire documentary together, never repeating himself, constantly coming up with new ways to describe the challenges of filming a fight scene. if only Russell could narrate all DVD documentaries.

8 out of 10

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