Tag Archives: Bruce Willis

Fifth Element

 

Luc Besson is an amazing writer, producer and director from France, if you are not already familiar with him, I can tell you, you’re familiar with his work. Just to name a few, he’s responsible for the series: Taken, Taxi, Nikita, Transporter, District B13, Arthur and the Invisibles, Colombiana and so, so many others. After he made a splash early on directing films like The Big Blue, The Professional (Leon), and La Femme Nikita, he decided to direct a Sci-Fi film in 1997 that he started writing when he was a kid. Fifth-Element-Banner-770x300

It’s one of the most under-rated film, and one of my favorites…The Fifth Element.  At the time of it’s release, it didn’t do as good as expected for some strange reason, that I can’t fathom, but is simply an amazing film.  The only thing I can think of is Chris Tucker is horribly miscast and makes his scenes unwatchable at times, because of his nails-on-a-chalkboard-line-delivery.Fifth-Element

Great direction, great visuals and great action, it’s a fantastic film besides this small concession. Gary Oldman is just awesome as the bad guy in the film and he just steals the show at times.  Bruce Willis does great and after Die Hard, this film really showcases his action chops. Milla Jovovich is introduced for the first time in this movie and is just great.  She learned an entirely new and made up language for this film and is just flawless in her characterization. At the time this film was made, she was a professional linguist if you think about it, as she already was fluent in 4 languages! Luc Besson and Milla created the language LeeLoo speaks and by the end of the film they could have whole conversations in it.  It’s not hard to see how she would eventually become a worldwide star.Milla-jovovich-the-fifth-element

Luc Besson is one of my favorite filmmakers and it’s simply because he does things he wants to do and doesn’t really confine himself to the “success” of it.  The success becomes a product, of course, of the things he works on because of the quality and interest it generates. He said of his films in 2014, “I can’t do this job just like a business. If I don’t love the film and I’m not ready to get exhausted for it, I can’t do it. I can’t go to Hollywood, take a big cheque and say, “Action!” and “Cut!”. It’s just not me. I come from the source, from the ground up: putting cables together and holding cameras aged 17, and I’m physically like that. If I believe in a film, I don’t care if it’s very successful or not successful. I want to be proud of it. I’ve done films that worked a lot and films that didn’t work so well, and I don’t care. Angel-A (2005) was a black and white film in French – I love this film – and The Extraordinary Adventures of Adèle Blanc-Sec (2010) was a comedy in French, but then The Fifth Element (1997) was popular everywhere. It doesn’t matter because the real life of a film is ten years later. Two years ago I was in Korea and this 15 year-old Korean guy with a red mohawk came up to me aggressively – I was a little scared – and he said, “Subway (1985) is my favourite film!” I asked him how old he was and realised that he wasn’t even born when I made it. That’s the beauty of film.”the-fifth-element-gary-oldman

 

Ken Bates in Die Hard

 

Here’s the second action movie with a christmas theme (the first being Lethal Weapon). Both just happened to be hugely successful films and even more successful series. Another example of how successful a film series is, can be based on how many copycats come out after it’s been released. After this film came out, every studio wanted their own, “Die Hard With A…” and they scrambled to make their own films in this genre. High explosive action, and fantastic stunts.Die-Hard

One of the more spectacular stunts in this film, was the one where Hans Gruber falls from the Nakitomi Building. Ken Bates acted as the stunt double for Alan Rickman during the fall.  He is also only one of a few stunt performers ever to have won an Oscar for creating safety equipment for the Industry.  In 1993, he earned an Academy Award for Scientific and Technical Achievement for his Bates Decelerator System (more on that below), which is used to slow a fall of a stunt performer without the use of an airbag.

An interesting note about the film, it was based on a book by Roderick Thorp entitled Nothing Lasts Forever – a sequel to another book entitled The Detective, which in 1968 was made into a film starring Frank Sinatra. Because of a clause in Sinatra’s contract for The Detective which gave him the right to reprise his role in a sequel, he was actually the first person offered the McClane role, even though he was 73 years old at the time. Also, Coincidentally, Bruce Willis made his movie debut in The First Deadly Sin walking out of a bar as Sinatra walks into it.

Die Hard was directed by John McTiernan for 20th Century Fox.die hard hans gruber

Things to look up (go to IMDB page):

  • John McTiernan
  • Die Hard
  • 20th Century Fox
  • Alan Rickman
  • Ken Bates

Check out our new Book, 100 Years of the Best Movie Stunts!

Glossary of Stunt Tools: Decelerator or Descender:

Kenny Bates won the Science and Technical Academy Award for the design and development of the Decelerator System, which provides two advantages. First, it allows a stuntperson to fall from much higher platforms. “To back up a little,” Mr. Bates explains, “just to give you an idea of how this came to be, if you date back into the early days of motion picture history, when stuntmen first started doing high falls, they would do it into water, or they would put up two sawhorses and put planks between the sawhorses, and they would actually jump, say, 15 or 20 feet onto these breakaway planks. These are how high falls basically originated.” As falls got higher, stuntmen began to use haystacks, nets, and cardboard boxes. “I’ve heard of stuntmen falling up to 10 stories, or 100 feet, into cardboard boxes. These boxes were actually set up in a configuration to break the fall.” Then came the airbag. “The highest high fall into an airbag is 311 feet. That’s 31 stories.

Most commonly, though, airbags are used for doing falls from, oh, 20 feet up to 150. The most common falls are between 20 feet and 80 feet.” While airbags are great and they’re still in use today, they still leave one problem. Shooting down. With any of these devices, the director must always shoot from the bottom up to avoid filming whatever it is the stuntman is going to land on. What’s where the Decelerator’s second advantage comes in. Since all you’ve got is a cable attached to the stuntman’s ankle, it doesn’t matter what direction you film in.DieHard_bungeejump_600

“When we did Die Hard, I started using a device called a Descender, to do controlled falls. In other words, we do a controlled fall from I’ve been anywhere up to 105 stories. The fall is controlled because your descending on a small cable. If the film is undercranked, it looks like you’re falling.” What Bates has done is used his knowledge of physics and film to calibrate the speed of the fall versus the degree to which the film must be undercranked. “In Die Hard, where Alan Rickman dies, falling backwards out of the building, that would have been a death defying feat. Instead we came in and packaged an illusion for Joel Silver. Since then I’ve done every one of his films.” He also doubled Bruce Willis when he leapt off the top of the building with a firehose.

Check Out the Book 100 Years of the Best Movie Stunts:Screen Shot 2015-09-19 at 8.23.28 PM