Stunt Mania: A love letter to the unsung heroes behind the scenes

    In May, two Hollywood blockbusters were released one after another. Interestingly, these two films are very different in every aspect.

    The Planet of the Apes, released last week, is a reboot of a classic IP, set in the future, using cutting-edge visual effects to create a fantasy world. The action comedy The Fall Guy, released on May 17, is an original story, and as its title suggests, it focuses on real physical combat and desperate efforts. The former is the current trend of Hollywood studios, while the latter is becoming increasingly rare.

    Trailer for "The Stunt Man". (02:59)
    "The Stunt Man" won good reputation as soon as it was shown at the South by Southwest Film Festival in the United States this year. Earlier this month, it was officially released in North America and other places, and it was also recognized by film critics and audiences. It still has an 82% freshness and 87% popcorn index on the film review website "Rotten Tomatoes".

    "Stunt Maniac" finalized poster

    Ryan Gosling, who gained popularity for his role as Barbie's boyfriend Ken, plays Colt Sivers, one of the best stuntmen in Hollywood. Because of a mistake, he was not only seriously injured and lost the confidence to continue working, but also unilaterally broke off contact with his girlfriend Jodi (Emily Blunt). When he learned that Jodi finally got the opportunity to be a director, he hesitated and agreed to the producer's request and returned to the set to do his old job. However, Jodi refused to give him a good look and repeatedly made things difficult for him on the set. On the other hand, the leading actor of the movie, action star Tom Ryder (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), disappeared. Seeing that his sweetheart's hard work might go to waste, Colt had to secretly look for Tom, but he was unexpectedly involved in a murder case...

    Ryan Gosling as Colter Sivers

    Emily Blunt (left) as Jody

    Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Tom Ryder

    "The Stunt Man" was created by David Leitch, who has directed "Bullet Train", "Deadpool 2" and "Fast & Furious Hobbs & Shaw". It is not difficult to see from his resume that Leitch has a special liking for action movies. What is more worth mentioning is that before becoming a director, he had 20 years of experience in stunt performance and was once Brad Pitt's full-time stunt double, so "Bullet Train" is actually not the first time the two have worked together.

    When Leitch was acting as Pitt's stunt double in Fight Club, he was inspired by David Fincher and wanted to make his own movie. After that, he participated in the actual shooting of films such as John Wick, and gradually transformed from a stuntman to a full-time director. He also founded the North 87 production company with his wife Kelly McCormick.

    Talking about his early work, Leitch once said, "Those 20 years of stunt work are the foundation of my career. Getting beaten, walking on a tightrope, crashing, catching fire... My love for filmmaking is my motivation. Through years of collaboration with various departments, I have learned the filmmaking model from the inside out. If you asked me to stop being a director and go back to being a stunt instructor, I would still be very happy, because creating art with friends on the movie set is my favorite thing to do."

    Director David Leitch (left) on the set of the street racing scene

    David Leitch's professional background and love for action movies made him the best director for "The Stunt Man". He also "brought his own ideas" and arranged many tributes to classic action movies and TV series such as "Miami Vice" and "The Bourne Supremacy" in the film, as well as a series of thrilling original action scenes, including rapid falls from high altitudes, close combat, ship explosions, highway car chases, helicopter jumps, etc.

    Stills from "Stunt Maniac"

    It is particularly worth mentioning that stuntman Logan Holladay also completed a high-pressure cannon rollover of eight and a half turns in the air during the filming, breaking the Guinness World Record of seven rolls set by stuntman Adam Curley during the filming of "Casino Royale" in 2006.

    The crew completed a new record of eight and a half rolls during filming, setting a new record for the high-pressure gun rollover

    Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt were both nominated for acting awards at this year's Oscars. They played a pair of bickering lovers in the film. Unlike Barbie, which mostly used close-ups and medium shots, Gosling appeared in full body shots in The Stunt Man, showing a completely different charm of the character.

    As for the reason for taking on this film, he once said, "It feels very real to set the background of an action movie among a group of people who shoot action movies, because only they really know how to complete those jobs. When I first entered the industry, I participated in a children's action TV series called "Young Hercules", and it can be said that there were stand-ins very early on. In my experience of shooting with stand-ins, I know that they will perform all kinds of cool and dangerous actions in front of the camera, and then disappear behind the scenes, and the actors will take all their achievements. So I am very happy to participate in such a movie that allows the audience to see them, and I hope that people can understand how powerful they are and the risks they take."

    Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt play a pair of bickering lovers

    It is worth mentioning that although "The Stunt Man" is full of action scenes, they are not for showing off, but are closely linked to the twists and turns of the plot. The film sets up suspense step by step from the beginning, and the mystery is not solved until the protagonist Colter becomes a scapegoat and is wanted. In this regard, director Leitch explained: "In this movie, we give the term "stand-in" a broader meaning, and it will evolve into a metaphor in various ways. Our stand-in is not just a stuntman who falls in front of the camera, but also a person who accepts unfair accusations for something he has not done, and a man who is deeply in love and is willing to take all risks to get back the love of his life."

    The funny elements in "The Stunt Man" also enrich the entertainment of the film. Although Chinese-American actress Xu Weilun only made a cameo appearance, she contributed a lot of jokes; Jason Momoa's appearance in the finale was also a pleasant surprise. In addition, the chemistry between Ryan Gosling and Emily Blunt also contains a lot of laughs.

    All in all, "The Stunt Man" has the qualities of an old-school Hollywood commercial film. While blending many different types of elements together, it is able to achieve a just right balance, ensuring that the audience who paid for their tickets can be immersed in the film and spend a satisfying time watching the movie.

    Finally, I need to say that the behind-the-scenes footage and Easter eggs that appear after the main film is also worth seeing. Director David Leitch revealed in a live link at the premiere in China that he was influenced by Jackie Chan to choose to become a stuntman. The behind-the-scenes footage after the main film is a major symbol of Jackie Chan's movies. What is different is that the behind-the-scenes footage of "The Stunt Man" features real stuntmen who participated in the filming, including parkour expert Ben Jenkin, martial artist Justin Eaton, car expert Logan Holladay, and high-altitude falling expert Troy Brown, who are Gosling's stand-ins in the film.

    Interesting behind-the-scenes footage

    Just from the way it ends, it's easy to see that director David Leitch put a lot of personal emotion into "The Stunt Man." "In my heart, "The Stunt Man" is a love letter to the stuntmen and the unsung heroes of the film industry - they are highly skilled and talented craftsmen who devote all their passion and energy to the art of filmmaking," said Leitch. "This is a tribute to the art directors, cinematographers, mechanical crews, electricians, production assistants, assistant directors and everyone who gives their all to make the magic of film come true. This project has a special place in my heart because it contains all the real-life stories I have experienced as a stuntman and crew member."


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