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Ice Is Your Friend
In preparation for The Matrix, Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Laurence Fishburne and Hugo Weaving spent four solid months during the winter of 1997-98 training with master martial artist and wire work specialist Yuen Wo Ping to learn the Kung Fu and wire skills they would need to perform the film's complex and demanding fight scenes. 

While the cast embraced this unprecedented approach to Western action filmmaking – in which they would execute fight scenes typically handled entirely by stunt performers – they were somewhat unprepared for the grueling experience that lay ahead.  Tenacity, perseverance and the desire to bring the Wachowski Brothers' vision to life inspired the cast and martial arts team to accomplish what had never been done before in an incredibly short period of time.  "We wanted to be able to achieve the extraordinary,” says Keanu Reeves.

When the actors returned to training for Reloaded and Revolutions in November 2000, they were ready.  "The cast arrived in much better shape, much fitter, with a far greater understanding of the demands we would place on them,” Wo Ping says.

"Training for these two films was probably three times harder than preparing for the first,” Reeves admits.  "Neo's Kung Fu elements and wire work are more sophisticated – there are more movements in one particular fight in Reloaded than there are in the whole of the first Matrix.” 

Daily training sessions were held in a Santa Monica airplane hangar during an exceptionally cold and rainy winter.  "We'd arrive in the morning and they'd have to vacuum up the water from the rain that had fallen the night before,” recalls Laurence Fishburne.  The stunt team had almost tripled in size since The Matrix – in part to include twelve stunt men to play multiple Agent Smiths – and they shared the training space with the production's sizeable motion capture stage.

Reeves devoted at least seven hours a day to Kung Fu work.  While training for and filming The Matrix, he was recovering from neck surgery, which restricted his movements, and Wo Ping accommodated his injury by choreographing routines that featured more hand-to-hand combat than kicking.  This time around, Reeves had no such limitations.  "The more I could do, the more they pushed me,” recalls the dedicated actor.  "So when I could do one thing well, that was the day they'd ask me if I could do two things.  Then when we were shooting, the brothers would ask me if I could do seven things!  It was all very good fun, but very hard work as well.  And painful – ice is your friend.”  (During training, Reeves was known to sit in a bathtub full of ice.)

"Keanu is exceptional,” compliments Wo Ping.  "He is a super perfectionist, always dissatisfied with his own performance, even when I think it's very good!  I tr

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