FOOT FIST FRIDAYS: Keanu Reeves and Daniel Bernhardt Lock Up in the Ultimate Death Match from JOHN WICK!

By: John M Jerva

Welcome to FOOT FIST FRIDAYS! A weekly dose of fight action where the experts share their thoughts on some of the greatest scenes of fisticuffs in action cinema history!

To know me is to know that like many of you out there, I am an enormous fan of the John Wick franchise and think that it basically rejuvenated the action genre with action scenes that no one has ever seen before and it gave star Keanu Reeves a resurgence like no other and literally turned him into an action god after a long hiatus from the genre. Creators Chad Stahelski and David Leitch along with writer Derek Kolstad invented a true iconic action ant-hero in Wick and to this day, it is copied by many other filmmakers in terms of style, substance and above all mayhem!

Another cool aspect of the John Wick franchise is that Stahelski has no problem putting in 90’s action stars who he knows can keep up with insane stunt work and the first film included the involvement of 90’s star Daniel Bernhardt who plays the role of elite killer Kirill who works for Viggo Tarasov who rules his criminal empire with his son losef by his side. Now we all know what losef and his gang did to Wick to set the violent plot in motion and it is here that Wick and Kirill are headed on a collision course of epic proportions.

How many times have you gotten excited because a certain action Star was attached to a project only to see said project and be disappointed when that actor was criminally misused. I can’t tell you how many times I yelled at my TV screen when that has happened.

Well here in the first film of the franchise, action maestro Chad Stahelski knows better than to make that mistake and he utilizes Bernhardt and his screen fighting expertise a couple of times in the film with the second scene being the focus of this week’s Foot Fist Friday.

In the last act of the movie, after Wick is captured only to be rescued by his old acquaintance Marcus played by Willem Dafoe, fans are treated to a rousing and brutal display of fisticuffs as Wick and Bernhardt lock horns in one of the film’s epic fight scenes. During the film, Wick has taken his lumps but for the most part, he has carved his way through Tasarov’s army with ease but in Kirill, he has met his match and it is here that Wick is given his ultimate challenge yet.

The fight scene is a master class of hand to hand brilliance as both Reeves and Bernhardt are given their chances to shine. Normally Bernhardt has been known for his awesome arsenal of kicks but here he tangles with Reeves in a Jiu Jitsu inspired brawl that is loaded with intricate locks, manipulations and take downs that would make the Gracie clan proud. Reeves was well documented in training in the art and Bernhardt keeps up with him every step of the way.

The fight itself is only a couple minutes in length but for being short it makes up for it with technique and skill that is unmatched and genre fans are treated to a throw down that truly earns its name.

As a massive fan of Bernhardt in the heyday of 90’s VHS action, it was great to see him get in on the action and this isn’t the first time Reeves and Bernhardt faced each other as the two crossed paths in The Matrix: Reloaded. Sure Bernhardt is older now but he looks just as lethal as he did when he made Bloodsport 2. His character of Kirill was also layered as even though he was tasked with taking down Wick, he still respected him for the assassin that he is.

Now in the immortal words of Arnold Schwarzenegger in Conan The Destroyer, “Enough Talk!” It’s time to watch two evenly matched opponents do what they do best in the extreme and utterly satisfying beatdown from John Wick!

As a bonus, because you all know that I’m always good to you, I have included the night club scene where Wick and Kirill engage in combat for the first time! It’s double John Wick and double Kirill on this week’s Foot Fist Friday! Enjoy!

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