THE BIG HIT
With a cast now in place, Wong's first order of business was to choreograph the action sequences
With a cast now in place, Wong's first order of business was to
choreograph the action sequences. Both Toronto-based stunt coordinator
John Stoneham, Jr., and Hong Kong-based stunt consultant, Lau
Chi-Ho-known internationally for his creative set pieces for John
Woo's The Killer and Bullet In The Head-were hired. Together they
scouted each location to determine how the action scenes could
be made more elaborate.
"At the same time, if you put an experienced Hong Kong action
director on a picture, you expect him to deliver a fresh, innovative
and exciting rhythm of action and stunts. So we tried to stretch
the idea of what an action scene can be in a Hollywood film."
According to Zide, Wahlberg and Phillips approached the film's
demanding action scenes with an enthusiasm that stemmed from a
mutual desire to achieve the best shot. "Mark doesn't want
the audience to see a close up of him and then a wide shot of
someone who looks like him doing the stunt. Lou felt the same
way. They take it as far as the stunt-people will allow them to
in terms of safety," says Zide.
To make the action scenes more believable, Wahlberg underwent
an intensive training period with kick boxing champion Benny the
Jet, which came in handy once production began. "Once Che-Kirk
found out that I was capable of handling the physical stuff, I
started getting calls over the weekend from him wondering if I
wanted to jump off a building."
For his part, Phillips was quite impressed by the film's action
sequences. "Che-Kirk has taken action to another level, so
that a simple car chase becomes lyrical and funny and psychotic.
And the Hong Kong stunt men are indestructible-I think that they
have rubber bones. It's very exciting."
Wong's talents, however, stretch far beyond staging great action
sequences. Thanks to him, scenes like the hotel hit scene and
the video store battle between Mel and Cisco are visually richer
onscreen than the script might have suggested.
In addition, according to Chang, Wong knows the secret to getting
great performances out of his actors-listen to their ideas. "I'm
inspired by the actors," says Wong. "When I cast someone,
it's not only because they fit the role, but also because they
bring something more to the role. They give the character depth
For example, Phillips suggested that his character, Cisco, should
have tattoos and a gold-framed tooth. During the rehearsal process,
Phillips, Wahlberg and Wong saw Carlos Santana in concert. "As
one of the band members came on stage he made this really cool
gesture with his hands that defined Cisco for me," says Phillips.
"After the concert I asked him if I could borrow the gesture
for the character."
Adds Wahlberg, "The acting gets overlooked in most action
films. But Che-Kirk's really in tune with the acting, and the
action was actually secondary."
Wong was equally receptive to suggestions from the rest of his
talented team. For director of photography Danny Nowak, production
designer Taavo Soodor, and costume designer Margaret M. Mohr,
interpreting Wong's vision was a dream job.
"Che-Kirk trained as an fashion designer early in his career,
so his sense of color is dead-on. From Cisco's Gauthier-gone-mad
outfits and Mort's bingo playing get-up to the neighborhood guys
in their aloha shirts and shorts, Che-Kirk was very clear that
the costumes should add to the overall visual look of the film,"
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