Movies | August 3, 2019 9:00 am

The Challenges of Making a “Fast & Furious” Fight Scene

Turns out movie stars don’t like to lose on-screen fights

“Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw"
A tense moment from “Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw"
Universal Pictures

What can you expect from a Fast & Furious movie? Cars doing cool things, obviously. More specifically, a series of carefully-planned stunts that involve cars and trucks defying the laws of gravity, whether in the context of a street race or a thrilling globetrotting espionage mission. But there’s also plenty of fighting to be had — and, given the shifting loyalties of many of its characters over the franchise’s existence, that means that plenty of its main characters have fought each other on screen over the years.

Here’s the tricky part, though: unless you pull a freeze frame like the end of Rocky III, someone’s going to win and someone’s going to lose. And according to a new article in The Wall Street Journal, the stars of the Fast & Furious films do not like to lose. 

The article focuses on the three actors who have emerged as the leads in the franchise: Vin Diesel, Dwayne Johnson and Jason Statham. All have substantial screen presences; all are leading men in their own right. Finding a way to keep all of them satisfied can be difficult. Much like fight choreography, the process of not losing a fight is a science unto itself:

According to producers and crew members on the films, Mr. Statham, 51 years old, negotiated an agreement with the studio that limits how badly he can be beaten up on screen. Mr. Diesel, 52, has his younger sister, a producer on the films, police the number of punches he takes. And Mr. Johnson, 47, enlists producers, editors and fight coordinators to help make sure he always gives as good as he gets.

The article breaks down a host of fight scenes from across the franchise, and also offers a preview of what Fast & Furious Presents: Hobbs & Shaw viewers can expect. It’s an excellent exploration of what happens when you take every fight scene one quarter punch at a time.

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