HERE COMES THE BOOM
About The Fights
From the very beginning, says stunt coordinator Garrett Warren, James and Coraci
had a vision about how they wanted the film's fight sequences to play out.
"Kevin and Frank were very clear: they wanted fight sequences that were comical,
but also realistic in nature," he says. "Each one, they knew exactly how big or
how small, or how funny or how realistic it was going to go. Kevin had a very
active role in the choreography - in many ways, he made us all look pretty
As for the on-camera fights, Garner says, "Kevin was adamant that the fight
scenes were going to look as real as we could possibly make them. He wanted it
to feel as if the audience was inside it."
"The main part of our approach was, 'What is it like to go into the ring?'" says
Coraci. "Everyone's seen it on TV, where they use certain objective camera
angles. I felt we had to get the audience to experience what it was like to
actually step into the Octagon. Garrett was as passionate about this idea as I
was. We were strapping cameras to fighter's bodies to get angles literally
inside the grappling. It's funny at times, but the hits are big hits. Kevin
worked extremely hard and because he did a bunch of his own fighting, it really
paid off. The MMA in this movie is like no other movie anyone's ever seen
before. It's really awesome and fun."
To make the fights feel real, stunt coordinator Garrett Warren called on the
experts. "One of the most important things we did was to enlist the help of real
MMA fighters," he says. "We approached it as if it were real. Looking at Kevin's
character, a former collegiate wrestler, if this were a real fight, he'd punch
into the clench, take him down, and pound away the victory. That played into
every fight - we were constantly asking ourselves what his character would do,
what his strengths were, and going from there. It was great working with Kevin
and Frank, because for each fight, they knew exactly what they wanted - how big
or small or funny they wanted it to go."
Another way the filmmakers kept it real was to ask themselves what the likely
result of each fight would be. A good example is his first fight: "We build it
up to be this amazing fight, only to have Scott take a knee to the face and it's
over in one move," says Warren. "Scott drops to the ground like a sack of
potatoes. The funny thing is, when we were rehearsing it, we had to come up with
three or four different ways that a person can get kneed in the face and hit the
ground. We came up with falling flat forward, backwards, sideways, how to shoot
it from the top and from the side. After all that, I'm one of the world's
biggest experts in getting kneed to the face and hitting the ground."
James's character has eight fights in the film. In each, the actor takes on a
real-life MMA fighter. The filmmakers also sought to set each fight in a unique
Fight #1 - Abandoned Factory - MMA fighter James Robinson
Fight #2 - Boston Docks - Former MMA fighter Rafael Cordeiro
This fight takes place outdoors, in the rain. "Todd Garner actually saw that in
one fight - it starts raining and the fighters keep going," says Coraci. "It was
like a Slip-and-Slide. When we saw that, we thought, that is pure comedy. We had
to put that in the movie."
Fight #3 - Community College Gym - the character of "Lucky" Patrick Murphy -
played by MMA fighter Jason "Mayhem" Miller
This is the fight in which Scott experiences his first success - even if it's
mostly a fluke. "He throws a Hail Mary - we can all relate to it," says Warren.
"You put your head down, throw the punch and pray that it hits. And in the
movie, it does - Scott catches the guy on the button and he goes down. That was
actually an idea that Kevin came up with when he was writing the script -he'd
seen it in an MMA fight years ago and wanted something like that to happen."
Fight #4 - High School Gym - Chael Sonnen
Fight #5 - Topsfield Fairgrounds (collapsible stage fight) - MMA fighter Satoshi
Fight #6 - Horse Arena - Brazilian Jiu Jitsu fighter Romulo Barral
Fight #7 - Lombardo's - UFC fighter Mark Munoz
Fight #8 - UFC Fight - the character of Ken Dietrich, played by UFC veteran
In all the fights, Warren had the dual goals of making the fight look real while
also making it look like a schoolteacher has found his way into a fight - but
the ante was upped with the UFC fight, as these are the fighters at the top of
the game. "We took small cameras, and we'd place them on Kevin's head, or
stomach, or chest, to put the audience right in the middle of the fight," says
However, creating the fights wasn't necessarily about actually creating a real
fight, but making it look real - a fight that felt real, even if it's not how
real fighters do it. "One of the most important things was not hitting a guy,"
he says. "When you are in a real fight and get hit for real, you tense up your
neck and lean your head into the punch. But we had to create the illusion: we
had them throw their heads to the side and react to the punches, telegraphing to
the audience that the character just got hurt. In between the punches, that's
when we sought to have real movement, real choreography around the ring."
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