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G.I. JOE: RETALIATION

Stunts/Fights
Summer tent pole movies are known for action sequences that defy reality and thrill audiences, and the filmmakers set out to make G.I. JOE: RETALIATION a guaranteed crowd pleaser.  Director Jon M. Chu had the benefit of working with a double-punch combination of stunt coordinator Steve Ritzi and fight coordinator Thomas Dupont, who created and choreographed elaborate sequences sure to wow action fans.  "The most creative ideas happened in the collaboration between the stuntmen, actors, director, producers and the writers to create a couple of the sequences that are utterly unique in this movie," explains di Bonaventura.  "What audiences are going to find is that when they get into the action it will be intense as hell and something they've never seen before."

Stunt coordinator Steve Ritzi loved the opportunity to create sequences for both the military and ninja storylines and all that each aesthetic had to offer.  "It was challenging having two different elements that are so different," recalls Ritzi.  "The G.I. JOE style was much more straight-forward and then we had the ninjas with very specific choreography and other fun unexpected elements like slinging and flying them through the mountains.  The combination was really fun."

In the first act, audiences are introduced to the G.I. JOE team and their level of physical intensity illustrated by two grandiose action sequences that set the bar for the level of action the audience can anticipate.  On a mission to neutralize Pakistan's' nuclear arsenal, the teams perform a dangerous and high-risk extraction with great precision and skill.  The sequence is an action smorgasbord that involves high-height rappelling, hand-to-hand combat, parkour, gunplay and a great deal of weaponry and ammunition.  The sequence showcases each of the G.I. JOE team members' special skill set and their undeniable proficiency and domination as a team.

Shot in NASA's VAB, short for the Vertical Assembly Building, the production team utilized the 220 foot tall ceilings and never-before-seen rocket boosters to push the limits of the action coverage.  "The production value is amazing and we had Roadblock and two other JOE'S repel down the face of this 200-foot rocket into battle," explains stunt coordinator Steve Ritzi.   "There are G.I. JOE'S literally raining from the sky firing at insurgents the whole way down. We had people shooting, falling and fighting at every level and each character has their own moment within the fight.  It was pretty elaborate."

"The scene in the nuclear weapons depot illustrated the units' cohesiveness and efficiency and showcases their talents as soldiers," explains Dwayne Johnson.  

While celebrating the successful completion of the complicated and dangerous mission with no G.I. JOE lives lost, the team is ambushed and blindsided by a powerful force that essentially wipes out the majority of the unit.  The stunts and special effects team orchestrated a powerful and explosive portrayal of a military force under siege.  The sequence involved Humvee's blown 30 feet into the air, numerous rocket-charges staged all over the set and vehicles on fire all within a carefully choreographed sequence that implicated the extensive unit of core G.I. JOE's, additional Navy Seals, over 30 stuntmen and roughly 40 extras.  Doing the stunts practically with little plans for CGI enhancement meant real explosions and the amount of charges and ammunition on the set left little to no error for margin.  "Most of the hits and explosions are all very real. We're not enhancing a lot," explains Ritzi. "We're doing charges right next to our actors and stuntmen and wanted to experience them taking the hits and showing the action in a very realistic manner."

Although the sequence was incredibly complicated, the filmmakers worked as a team to map out the action to create a seamless portrayal of the unfolding devastation.  "The special effects guys were amazing and had it designed to where we had these large special effect pods built into the set and Jon M. Chu, Steve Windon, our 1st AD Phil Patterson and I designed the layout where the actors should move to and from with our stunt team filling in the holes," recounts Ritzi.  "It's a very elaborate sequence that could have gone either way, but everyone really came together and it worked out really well."

The centerpiece action sequence that is sure to be a much talked about crowd pleaser is a sequence that involves a high-altitude zipline chase and Ninja fight on the mountaintops of the Himalayas. After discovering that Storm Shadow was healing and seeking refuge with the red Ninjas in a Nepalese monastery, Snake Eyes and Jinx set out to retrieve him and bring him back to the Blind Master for judgment.  After an epic fight between the two adversaries that leads to having Storm Shadow's unconscious body in tow, the duo are forced to take the only route of escape. The most dangerous sequence follows them down the majestic snow-covered mountainside on a zip line while being chased by hordes of red ninjas.

"When we first read that sequence we had to ask ourselves if we could actually pull it off," recalls di Bonaventura.  "It took its shape along the way and, with a little bit of luck, an incredible stunt team to do some seriously crazy things on ropes and a few key visual effects, it will have an excitement level and scale I don't think audiences have seen before."

The sequence entailed several months of rigging, huge high-speed winches that were flown up to the mountaintops and anchored down into big tents and thousands and thousands of feet of line that strung between peaks.  Expert mountain climbing expert Paul Borne was brought in and with the help of key rigger Dave Lane, Ritzi and the team pulled off the extraordinary sequence.  "It's very elaborate and I think when people see it they'll assume it was done completely with CGI, when we actually did the majority of it," says Ritzi.  "We had huge 100-foot repels down the sides of mountains, a lot of shuttling back and forth with helicopters and Snowcats carrying equipment back and forth.   It was extraordinary."

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