By: John M Jerva
Welcome to FOOT FIST FRIDAYS! A weekly dose of fight action where the Action-Flix.com experts share their thoughts on some of the greatest scenes of fisticuffs in action cinema history!
It’s that time again. Foot Fist Friday is back with a vengeance as I talk about the epic, and when I say epic I mean Keanu Reeves taking on Yayan Ruhian, Cecep Arif Rahman and Mark Dacascos epic. The third installment of the blockbuster John Wick franchise featured even more brutal fisticuffs to go along with the firepower and the finale is the icing on the cake. Enjoy!
To be an action cinema afficionado, means that you must be a John Wick fan and with each installment of the blockbuster franchise, we are treated with even more insane gun battles and empty handed combat. With the third entry in the series, the CQB was amped up the the 100th power with Keanu Reeves not only taking on the stars of The Raid in Yayan Ruhian and Cecep Arif Rahman but to top it all off, he engaged in empty handed glory with the legend himself Mark Dacascos. All the action leading up to this point would have been a fitting climax to any action film but this ending was an almost 10 minute barrage of fist and feet that has since become an instant classic.
What makes the character of John Wick so cleverly done is that even though we know he is the ultimate bad ass, he still gets his ass handed to him when he takes on equally skilled opponents such as himself. In the finale which takes place in The Continental, Wick has his hands full with a pair of deadly assassins played by The Raid’s Yayan Ruhian and Cecep Arif Rahman. The two masters of unarmed combat who are simply named Shinobi #1 and Shinobi #2 take on Wick and easily give Baba Yaga all he can handle. But Wick is the equivelant to the Energizer Bunny in that he takes a licking but keeps on ticking. Quite literally I might add.
The first round of the climax is an expert clinic of punches and kicks but also takedowns and joint manipulations as all three men lay it all on the line in a bloodsoaked display of martial carnage that is worth viewing many times. Director Chad Stahelski gives both Ruhian and Rahman more than enough chances to shine but, of course, Wick finally gains the upper hand and finds it within himself to end that confrontation once and for all.
So what does he get as a reward for taking down two such skilled opponents? Well he gets to take on legendary assassin Zero played by the equally legendary Mark Dacascos, that’s what. Most men would easily succumb to another round of punishment but this is John Wick we are talking about and even though Zero is a true master, there is nothing in his arsenal that will put Wick down and keep him down. Once again though, Stahelski gives Dacascos his moment in the sun and it’s fitting to see a director who knows how to use his talent. How many times have you gotten excited to see one of your favorite martial arts stars in a certain film only to be let down by how they were utelized? Not here though. Dacascos showcases all of his moves with the finesse that he did 20 years earlier. The man just doesn’t age.
What’s also really kick ass is that I had the great opportunity to interview Dacascos last year for The Driver and Dacascos talked about this scene with me which was a real treat.
In the interview, Dacascos talked about working with Stahelski and shared a wonderful story about shooting that climatic fight scene:
You know Chad, in my opinion and alot of people’s opnion, he’s a wonderful and extrenely talented artist through and through. He’s a martial artist, he’s a director artist. He has a point of view and he has the working physical experience of the fight game without a doubt. Not only does Chad know how to shoot it but he also knows how to execute it as well.
I’ll tell you the story of one day while doing the finale fight scene with Keanu and Chad wanted Keanu to do a particular move and Keanu didn’t think he was familiar with it so instead of Chad asking a stunt guy on set to show him, Chad just takes off his earphones and goes over there and pulls out a matt and does this incredible move with one of the stunt performers. I don’t think I’ve ever seen a director go out and do the move and do it so flawlessly. I could not do the move that he did. Keanu then says that he wants to try it and two or three times later, he’s doing it and I was just so inspired by these guys. It certianly makes a difference when your director has actual working experience with action and that’s what makes Chad so special and one of the many things that makes him special.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, the best action directors are the ones who cut their teeth in the stunt world and Stahelski knows how to shoot action sequences and get the most out of his talent. He’s a true action maestro.
Now in the immortal word of Arnold Schwarzenegger in Conan The Destroyer, “Enough Talk!” It’s time to watch Reeves go toe to toe with three of the action genre’s best!