For the longest time, I’ve had a hankering to shoot an absurdly long fight scene (like the one in Old Boy). Tired of waiting, I gathered the boys together and whipped up a quick excuse for a fight.
After this filming experience, I have a whole new level of appreciation for all action & kung-fu movies (even the bad ones). Fight choreography is hard damn work. It all comes down to physics: Working out the relative positions and actions of all the players is surprisingly tedious and complicated (and I only had three fighters to deal with). Storyboarding the action helps, but it’s nearly impossible to fill in every moment. Some level of improvisation seems unavoidable.
One thing that seemed to help us was breaking down the fight scene into smaller parts. This gave the actors a chance to learn the movements and it gave me a chance to fill in the missing moments. Here is a progression of the fight scene from the first take to the final take (with lots of mess-ups in between):
The end result is certainly not perfect, but it’s not bad for a first attempt. As a director, I’m definitely going to need to brush up on my choreography skills. And the boys will definitely need to put in more time at the gym…