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  • I am quite addicted to martial arts movies, which is odd when you consider that I hate violence. But when I declaim my love for these films my offline friends start back in horror and make warding motions with their hands. I am quite, quite alone in my obsession. My goal in joining Alive not Dead is to skulk around the forums and read other people’s pages and pick up some information on my favourite genre of films.

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  • 3rd Installment of Excerpts from Director’s Commentary for The Replacement Killers

    Monday, Feb 13, 2012 2:55PM / Standard Entry / Members only

    Here are some excerpts from Director Antoine Fuqua’s commentary to his film The Replacement Killers, which stars Chow Yun Fat and Mira Sorvino. Other excerpts from this commentary can be found in this blog and this blog. Below are what I consider to be the most interesting quotes from Fuqua’s commentary (interesting for me, anyway); they are followed by my transcrīption of part of the commentary so that you can read them in context if you wish.

    ***

    (Fuqua referring to a cut scene) If this was like Scorsese’s film it would’ve been in the movie, you know what I mean? But I was new so there were certain things, like we talked earlier, there were certain things that when they started to cut and trim and, you know, that’s what happens…

    I story board it and sort of have it in my head long before I get there and then once we get into the cutting room, you know, you find a little magic. You find little moments that you didn’t storyboard but because I like to be prepared it gives you room to find those extra moments, you know. Because you never know, especially with a person like Chow Yun Fat, what he might do. You never know and he’s got great ideas. Sometimes you get there that morning and he comes up to me and goes ‘Antoine, I want to do this thing where I’m running and I’m diving and I slide under the car and I stop with the gun’ and you go ‘Okay’, you know. So you start trying to figure it out in your mind and everything and see if it makes sense; but that’s what happens, you know, sort of like a creative free for all with him and that’s what he was used to.

    ***

    … Only Yun Fat can get away with that (i.e. rolling along on a little trolley while shooting, or other similar outrageous action.)

    ***

    (Obviously responding to an unrecorded question) … No. Not at all. There wasn’t any resistance about casting him (Chow Yun Fat). What it was, it was more understanding him than casting him because he has such a specific audience and such a specific style and, like I said before, it’s different than anything we’ve seen here. There’s a certain amount of ballet in it, there’s a certain amount of humour in it that doesn’t, well, to some people they don’t think it translates to an American audience and I disagree and I disagreed then. Like I said, if you look at some of his Hong Kong films that some of the things they do or they did defied reality and gravity and, you know, but it was entertaining, it was like a western, it was like gunslingers, it was, you know, it was something that I think took action to an extreme almost in a beautiful way is what John Woo and Chow Yun Fat would do. And I think some people didn’t understand that and I think that some people felt that certain action sequences were done and they were good enough where there was times when I would say ‘it’s not good enough’. There’s a certain amount of shooting you have to do. There’s a certain amount of coverage you’ve got to get. There’s a certain amount of details you got to capture and giving him some room to create within those scenes and then capturing that – it was tough to sell that whenever there were scenes that were done that I felt weren’t complete, which were a few. There was times when I found myself pretty much alone on that one because I didn’t have anyone there who really understood what he was about.

    Even if they saw some of his films I don’t think some people watched them all the way through or even cared to watch them, you know, because there’s a certain amount of everyone feels like ‘we’re film makers; we don’t make these crazy Hong Kong action movies.’ I think that’s a mistake because it’s another art form. It’s just another way of making films and I think some people resisted it a bit and some studio people felt that what I had was good enough, you know. For an  example one window being shot out or one guy shooting was good enough, you know. If the camera’s just sitting there and you’re just shooting no one cared as opposed to a ballet of events where at the end of that event you go ‘Wow!’, you know. So there was times where there was a lot of that resistance of understanding really what he was about.

    You know what it’s purely… I believe that people should experience him. I think that… I think our country’s young, I think our country has certain prejudices. I think that we’re changing, things are changing. If you look at rap music – it’s crossed over. If you look at films, foreign films, foreign directors – Luc Besson who come over here and make great films. I just think that Yun Fat is such a gift as an actor and so great to look at on the screen and such a great person to know that I think it would be a disaster and a horrible crime for film makers not to expose him more to young kids as an actor, you know. You make films hopefully to inspire in some way and he’s one of these people where you look at him – you look in his eyes or you watch him smile – and he inspires you and he teaches you something about the human spirit. There’s something about him that’s very spiritual and I remember a quote by Kurosawa about his films being about a battle of the spirit as opposed to the battle of the flesh and I think Yun Fat fits it perfectly.

    What’s in it for him, honestly, is not much in it. Financially and all that I think that he’s fine. I think what’s in it for him is he has a gift to want to give people something. He wants to entertain. He genuinely cares about human beings. The only thing he gets out of it is showing people his work. I think that what he would enjoy most, you know, is knowing that some people are watching him and being inspired by what he’s doing.

    Below is my transcrīption of the parts of the commentary that interested me, plus a brief descrīption of what was happening in the film while the director was talking plus references to other subjects he touched on in his commentary. The above quotes were taken from the following transcrīption:

    Scene 7 (Mira’s stairwell and cool music)

    (Fucqua discusses actor Mira Sorvino – didn’t think she was right for the part initially but changed his mind after meeting her. Mentions that she was a contrast with Chow. Sorvino was also a fan of Chow’s films as well.)

    Scene 8 (Sorvino looking at hoods on screen)

    (Referring to a cut scene) If this was like Scorsese’s film it would’ve been in the movie, you know what I mean? But I was new so there were certain things, like we talked earlier, there were certain things that when they started to cut and trim and, you know, that’s what happens.

    (Talks about how he sees certain scenes in his head.)

    I story board it and sort of have it in my head long before I get there and then once we get into the cutting room, you know, you find a little magic. You find little moments that you didn’t storyboard but because I like to be prepared it gives you room to find those extra moments, you know. Because you never know, especially with a person like Chow Yun Fat, what he might do. You never know and he’s got great ideas. Sometimes you get there that morning and he comes up to me and goes ‘Antoine, I want to do this thing where I’m running and I’m diving and I slide under the car and I stop with the gun’ and you go ‘Okay’, you know. So you start trying to figure it out in your mind and everything and see if it makes sense; but that’s what happens, you know, sort of like a creative free for all with him and that’s what he was used to.

    (Talks about the setting of the movie and location scouting.)

    Scene 9 (Sorvino in policeman’s office)

    (Continues to talk about setting and scouting locations. Discusses how 12 years of shooting commercials and music videos in Los Angeles has given him huge files of potential locations. Couldn’t shoot in New York because of budgetary problems, logistics, and Chow being targeted by gangsters)

    (talks about cinematography. Each character has a colour.)

    Scene 10 (Sorvino creeping down hallway)

    (Relationship with DOP.) (Talks about production designer.)

    Scene 11 (car wash)

    (talks about editor.)

    Scene 12 (in middle of car wash shoot out)

    (Talks about the gun handlers.)

    … Only Yun fat can get away with that (i.e. rolling along on a little trolley while shooting or other similar outrageous action.)

    Scene 12 (Sorvino and Chow stumble out of car wash building)

    (Talks about Sorvino doing her own stunts, danger in the big scene and cast’s gung ho attitude, working with actors Michael Rooker and Jurgen Prochnow)

    Scene 13 (Plane landing during sunset)

    (Talks about actors playing replacement killers)

    Scene 14 (looking up a building)

    (Still talking about the actors playing replacement killers)

    (Obviously responding to an unrecorded question) … No. Not at all. There wasn’t any resistance about casting him. What it was, it was more understanding him than casting him because he has such a specific audience and such a specific style and, like I said before, it’s different than anything we’ve seen here. There’s a certain amount of ballet in it, there’s a certain amount of humour in it that doesn’t, well, to some people they don’t think it translates to an American audience and I disagree and I disagreed then. Like I said, if you look at some of his Hong Kong films that some of the things they do or they did defied reality and gravity and, you know, but it was entertaining, it was like a western, it was like gunslingers, it was, you know, it was something that I think took action to an extreme almost in a beautiful way is what John Woo and Chow Yun Fat would do. And I think some people didn’t understand that and I think that some people felt that certain action sequences were done and they were good enough where there was times when I would say ‘it’s not good enough’. There’s a certain amount of shooting you have to do. There’s a certain amount of coverage you’ve got to get. There’s a certain amount of details you got to capture and giving him some room to create within those scenes and then capturing that – it was tough to sell that whenever there were scenes that were done that I felt weren’t complete, which were a few. There was times when I found myself pretty much alone on that one because I didn’t have anyone there who really understood what he was about.

    Scene 15 (exterior of arcade)

    Even if they saw some of his films I don’t think some people watched them all the way through or even cared to watch them, you know, because there’s a certain amount of everyone feels like ‘we’re film makers; we don’t make these crazy Hong Kong action movies.’ I think that’s a mistake because it’s another art form. It’s just another way of making films and I think some people resisted it a bit and some studio people felt that what I had was good enough, you know. For an  example one window being shot out or one guy shooting was good enough, you know. If the camera’s just sitting there and you’re just shooting no one cared as opposed to a ballet of events where at the end of that event you go ‘Wow!’, you know. So there was times where there was a lot of that resistance of understanding really what he was about.

    You know what it’s purely… I believe that people should experience him. I think that… I think our country’s young, I think our country has certain prejudices. I think that we’re changing, things are changing. If you look at rap music – it’s crossed over. If you look at films, foreign films, foreign directors – Luc Besson who come over here and make great films. I just think that Yun Fat is such a gift as an actor and so great to look at on the screen and such a great person to know that I think it would be a disaster and a horrible crime for film makers not to expose him more to young kids as an actor, you know. You make films hopefully to inspire in some way and he’s one of these people where you look at him – you look in his eyes or you watch him smile – and he inspires you and he teaches you something about the human spirit. There’s something about him that’s very spiritual and I remember a quote by Kurosawa about his films being about a battle of the spirit as opposed to the battle of the flesh and I think Yun Fat fits it perfectly.

    What’s in it for him, honestly, is not much in it. Financially and all that I think that he’s fine. I think what’s in it for him is he has a gift to want to give people something. He wants to entertain. He genuinely cares about human beings. The only thing he gets out of it is showing people his work. I think that what he would enjoy most, you know, is knowing that some people are watching him and being inspired by what he’s doing.


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