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Call To Action: Stunt Industry To Rally In Beverly Hills For An Oscar Category On Wednesday
Photo from the set of Terminator 2: Judgement Day (Courtesy Of Joel Kramer)
Good stories and good acting are key to making any film or TV show notable and watchable. The same goes for action movies, and in that respect, even greater action and stunt work is what's required to sell an action product. Without it, most of our habits wouldn't exist today.
More specifically, it's a field that influenced my interest in online independent action by inspired filmmakers back in the early 2000s as many of the people I've written about on this blog have risen to some major career successes in the field. It's why we enjoy a lot of the Marvel and DC films we see today and enjoy some of the smaller scale productions like Sakamoto Koichi's Broken Path or Dennis Ruel's recently released Unlucky Stars, a fact that still raises a lot of questions among those working today regarding why an Oscar category for Stunts don't exist.
For 25 years to date, the stunt industry has been campaigning for an Oscar category of their own, and it's something that's as important to them, and for good reason. Do they make a lot of money? Sure. However, that amount of income doesn't come without its huge share of risk as many people who perform the feats we enjoy watching have spent their years earning their stripes through more than the usual cuts and bruises. Some of them get badly injured, and have even died on the set of many of the very films we've watched in our lifetime.
Knowing this, you might think they're crazy for doing what they do, and to some mild extent, you're right. It definitely takes some outside-the-box thinking to go out in the world, venture into uncharted territory and do some of the most insane and electrifying things that not a lot of us would want or have interest in doing, and virtually all of them do it for the simple reason that most artists do what they do in general: They love it. Ask anyone of them and they'll tell you the same thing as I myself have yet to meet a stunt professional who would imply having gotten into this field for the check or did it because they were bored. It's a reason similar to why I spent many of my younger years as a pencil artist and doing favors for people with portraits and even winning a few art awards in my time, why I took up improv acting and even singing and songwriting for a time up until I was in college, and why it is I do what I do here on Film Combat Syndicate for the last three years and onward, not having ever seen a check from Google (yet), and having put up with a good number of jerks and liars to meet, greet and support many of the people I write about on this site: I freaking LOVE it.
Forgive me if you feel like you've accidentally stumbled into an online rant. Sure, I'm kind of venting, but you can't argue that the people I'm addressing in my article here don't have a case to make. They do, and they've made it time and time again for close to three decades. The 88th annual Academy Awards show is this Sunday with a number of films, including George Miller's Spring 2015 blockbuster, Mad Max: Fury Road, currently up for possible some Oscar wins of their own, and as of this article, if you go to their website, you won't find a single column attributed to the stunt performance and coordinator field. Not one.
Jackie Chan on the set of Dragon Lord (1982)
As it stands, stunt performers do have some annual award shows of their own, be it the Tarus World Stunt Awards which debuted its commitee a year before its first ceremony in 2001, or events like the SAG Awards for film and TV and the Action On Film festival which is held annually varying in different parts of California as of 2004. Nonetheless, the Academy Awards is where most eyes convene; James Cameron's Titanic made its stars Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet household names while earning nearly 2.2 billion dollars globally at the box office in 1997. A year later, 57 million people watched as the film took home 11 wins and 14 nominations, making the 70th annual Academy Awards show the most watched event among its shows.
That's 57 million people who will probably don't know the name Sarah Franzl who doubled actress Winslet on Titanic among over 140 other stunt performers and coordinators re-enacting some of the film's memorable moments; This is the same Sarah Franzl who also has work credited in upcoming action thrillers like Ariel Vromen's Criminal and the Idris Elba action starrer, Bastille Day. But more importantly however, this is 57 million people who bring tens to hundreds of millions of dollars to the box office every year to watch and admire their favorite stars and directors.
And so it goes - if you're one of those moviegoers who, like me, watches action films, it is inherently in your best interest to extend your graces to many of the kind people who make what you enjoy so much more fun - People like Franzl and stunt and action directors like Joel Kramer (Furious 7), J.J. Perry (John Wick: Chapter 2), Joey Ansah (Street Fighter: Assassin's Fist), people like Jackie Chan or Sammo Hung and MANY others I write about here at Film Combat Syndicate or include in my weekly Hit List column every Monday.
This is one of the many cases that protestors and folks within the stunt community will be making when they attend the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences on Wednesday afternoon in Beverly Hills with a petition 45,000 signatures strong. Check out the flyer below, and if you're in the neighborhood and love what these people do, come on over and share your support.
When I first heard about The Foreigner back in the halcyon days of 2015, I was puzzled as to why anyone would agree to make it; it was a Jackie Chan movie, directed by Martin Campbell (Casino Royale), also starring Pierce Brosnan (Goldeneye)! This sounded like the worst idea for a movie since a Pacific Rim sequel not directed by Guillermo del Toro. Now, in defense of 2015 me, things weren't exactly bright and sunny for the three names above. Chan, still trying to hold onto his glory days, was making big budget duds like Chinese Zodiac and Skiptrace. Campbell was nearly 10 years removed from Casino Royale and was also recovering from the recent Green Lantern debacle. As for Brosnan, he was still reeling from the shockingly dull The November Man and the forgotten film Survivor. There was absolutely NO REASON for this movie to be any good, which is what made the act of seeing it such a pleasant surprise.
Ngoc Minh Quan (Jackie Chan) is a retired Vietnam War special forces oper…
A few weekends ago I had the distinct pleasure of meeting journeywoman filmmaker Livi Zheng as she and a close associate made a stop in New York City. During our conversation we spoke about some of her current activity and it was much ado with her latest role as a spokesperson at the 2017 Annual Meeting of the World Bank Group and the IMF Global Media Gathering in Washington D.C. several days prior. It was at these events the flegeling helmer hosted the latest teaser for her new documentary, Bali: Beats Of Paradise, themed centrally around Gamelan, a traditional style of Indonesian music which has also been used in James Cameron's 2009 blockbuster hit, Avatar. The film marks the latest follow up for Zheng who debuted in 2015 with a starring and directing role with actor and martial artist Ken Zheng in Brush With Danger, and will reteam with the one and only Yayan Ruhian in the coming months for the continued production of their next narrative thriller, Insight. During filming Livi …
It looks as if television director Kim Hong-Sun (Voice, Black, Liar Game) has moved up into narrative feature territory these days. Signaling this is the first trailer for the new sword drama, The Age Of Blood, which lunges into Korean cinemas on November 23 courtesy of MLine. The day of revolting has dawned.
KIM Ho, the best swordsman in Joseon and the King’s guard, one day is being demoted to a prison and receives the order to keep the prisoners. At midnight, when he falls asleep, a riot happens and suddenly 5 armed men appear in front of Ho. They are coming for LEE In-jua, who has imprisoned on a charge of planning conspiracy, to keep him out of jail. LEE In-jua and 5 martial masters are planning to subvert the country again. Now Ho must fight with this pitiless gang not only to keep his duty but his family.
Jung Hae-in, Kim Ji-hoon and Hong Soo-ah are just several of the names leading the cast among those you can spot in the four posters just beneath the trailer. Enjoy!