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Preparing For Battle
Prior to filming, the five young women of "Sucker Punch” had to prepare for the physical challenges presented by the demanding action sequences in the script. They found themselves pushed to their limits in the capable hands of stunt coordinator and action designer Damon Caro and training coordinator Logan Hood, both of whom had previously worked with Zack Snyder on "300.” Caro supervised the girls' martial arts, fight and weapons training, while Hood oversaw their general body conditioning.

Though training would last throughout production, it began in Los Angeles about five weeks before the cast moved up to Vancouver to start principal photography. According to Caro and Hood, the first stage provided a foundation and included basic techniques in order to assess strength and build the girls' stamina. Caro started with them each morning, running them through martial arts and empty-hand weapons choreography, tailoring each actress's regimen to her character's needs. Hood and his team, including fellow former Navy Seal David Young, took over in the afternoon with functional training, including calisthenics, weights, body-weight pull ups and push ups, jumping on and off boxes, pulling tires, dragging ropes and kettlebells and more, modulating the workouts on a daily basis. The overall focus was on strength and agility so that the girls would look more athletic in their scenes, again supporting the needs of their individual characters.

According to Abbie Cornish, "We all found this thing within us that we called ‘the beast.' When you think you've reached your maximum effort, if you can just find that beast within yourself to push through, you go to a whole other level. It's such an amazing feeling, that elation that comes over you.”

"I'm a very active person; I run, I play sports, but I've never pushed myself to the point where I couldn't feel my arms,” Jamie Chung laughs. "We had fun together and we felt the pain together. It really brought us closer and gave us a sense of camaraderie, which we carried throughout filming.”

Jena Malone found a unique way to relate the training regimen to what her character would be going through. "Waking up early in the morning, doing four-to-five hours of martial arts, another two hours of strength training and then an hour or more of guns, plus fittings for corsets—another strange form of torture—that was our insane asylum,” she jokes. In reality, though, she acknowledges that it helped. "That process really contributed to how we thought about our characters, living together and sweating together, seeing what our bodies could do when we really pushed ourselves as far as we could go. It really helped us hone in on who we had to be on camera.”

"The great thing about all the training was that it gave us a new self-confidence, taking us to places we'd never been to before, both physically and mentally,” says Vanessa Hudgens. "You have a fire in your eyes. You tell yourself you can do anything.”

Because Emily Browning had to expertly handle multiple weapons simultaneously, the right-handed actress had to learn to shoot with her left hand so she could brandish a sword in her dominant hand. She relates that she felt especially empowered by the weapons training. "Learning to fight with Damon and the boys was the most fun I've had preparing for a film. The fact that I can wield a sword and fire a gun like it's second-nature is a little scary but also pretty cool in a really unexpected way.”

These are your weapons. When you take them, you begin your journey to freedom. —Wise Man

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