Sunday, March 19, 2006

impressive. most impressive.

As a fight choreography junkie and all-around geek, I have to do my sacred duty and point the world toward Justin's post here, which features a Google Video (yes-- finally available in Korea) of some teens cutting loose with their lightsabers in yet another Star Wars fan film lightsaber fantasy. As far as I can tell, the film's title is "Ryan Wieber vs. Michael 'Dorkman' Scott." We'll call it RWMS for short.

Notice the difference between this fan film and others like it: except for the long shot at the beginning of the RWMS fight, the editing is generally tight and rapidfire; it conveys the mood very well. Note, too, that the choreography reflects an understanding of Star Wars-style saber fights. Most fan filmmakers seem unable to grasp how saber fighting is done: it involves a lot of very fast whirling, with blade contact generally occurring in mid-whirl (i.e., no actual contact is being made, but it looks cool). The Yoda-Dooku fight exemplifies this. At those moments when blade-to-blade contact is direct, the moves tend to favor Chinese as opposed to Japanese styles (with Liam Neeson's fighting style being, perhaps, a notable exception-- quite a few of his moves, especially against battle droids, were more reminiscent of quick-draw samurai exchanges). Star Wars fights also incorporate the big martial arts no-no: turning your back to your opponent to execute a whirling slash. The move is useless in real life, but fun to look at on screen. The trick, however-- the thing most fan filmmakers keep missing-- is that such moves need to be done very quickly (and preferably with tight closeups to give them more oomph). Too many fan film duels look slow and limp because the camera work is poor and the choreography isn't energetic enough. RWMS doesn't make these mistakes.

The RWMS fight also incorporates some clever references to other movie duels. I don't think I caught them all, but I definitely saw traces of the Dooku-Yoda duel from "Attack of the Clones," the nighttime fight scene involving Li Mu Bai (Chow Yun-fat) from "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon," and the obvious reference to Kenobi's goofy-looking ready stance in "Revenge of the Sith" (the scene where he squares off against Grievous). Some of the atemi reminded me of Qui-gon Jinn's backfist against Darth Maul in the three-way duel in "The Phantom Menace," and there was some exchange where both opponents held their sabers in a reverse grip that was pure Zatoichi. When Dorkman punches our hero Ryan right in his leg wound, this calls to mind the scene from "Raiders of the Lost Ark" where that one Nazi kept punching Indy in his wounded shoulder during the long truck chase.

While RWMS has its faults, it's easily one of the best-choreographed fan film duels I've seen. Add to that the fact that the principals are just kids, and... well, I'm envious. Spielberg probably started off something like this.

Go watch RWMS. Then watch it again. Geeky cool.

UPDATE: A little research reveals this fan film came out in 2003, so none of the moves in the choreography could have referred to "Revenge of the Sith," which came out in 2005. What looked like a reference to Kenobi's ready stance might simply have been a reference to certain postures seen in some kung fu flicks. Speaking of kung fu: I was, frankly speaking, surprised not to have picked out any blatant "Matrix" references.


1 comment:

Sean said...

Freakin' awesome. If I had a better computer and time I could probably do something similar. Time is the key!

Thanks for the great link.