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THE MATRIX: REVOLUTIONS

Revolutionary Training, Combat & Stunts
After taking the unprecedented approach of training for and performing their own sophisticated Kung Fu fighting and wire work stunts for The Matrix, the principal cast – Keanu Reeves, Carrie-Anne Moss, Laurence Fishburne and Hugo Weaving – reunited with the trilogy's fight choreographer, master artist/wire work specialist Yuen Wo Ping, and his Hong Kong Kung Fu team led by Dion Lam, for five months of training and rehearsals prior to the production of The Matrix Reloaded and The Matrix Revolutions. Daily training sessions were held in a Santa Monica airplane hangar that accommodated the film's large motion capture stage in addition to a Matrix stunt team nearly triple its original size.

Having endured grueling training for four months for the first film, "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," admits Reeves, who devoted at least seven hours a day to Kung Fu. "Neo's Kung Fu elements and wire work are much more sophisticated."

While training for and filming The Matrix, Reeves was recovering from neck surgery, which restricted his movements, so 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.)

"There is no one who is harder on themselves than Keanu," Moss observes. "There were times when I would cover my ears and eyes, worried that he was pushing himself too far, but I completely commend and applaud him for going there. He really took his fighting and physicality to a level that I don't think any American actor has ever done."

"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 tried my best to match the level that he was looking for."

Reeves feels that such ambitious training was the only way to reach the level of technical acuity necessary to achieve the Brothers' vision for the film's awe-inspiring action. "Wo Ping, Larry and Andy want the fights to be as spectacular as possible," he says. "They love spectacle and they want to entertain. They're interested in physical contact in both its positive and negative light, in the same way that fire can be destructive and it can also give warmth – that's what they want from an action sequence."

The exhilarating Revolutions fight sequences – the Club Hell Coat Check showdown, Neo's brutal fight with Bane aboard the Logos, and his do-or-die battle with Agent Smith known as the Super Burly Brawl – result from a powerful synthesis between the choreographer, the filmmakers and the cast. "Wo Ping's style meshes exceptionally well with the Brothers' philosophy in terms of storytelling," says producer<

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