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  • - Technically, martial arts is the art of war.

  • [slapping] [grunting]

  • It's basically the art of kicking the crap out of someone.

  • [slapping] [grunting]

  • [laughing] Sorry.

  • [pounding drum beats]

  • Hi, "Vanity Fair," Scott Adkins here.

  • Today I'm gonna walk you guys through

  • how a martial artist trains for a movie.

  • [grunting]

  • I don't remember the first time I saw Bruce Lee,

  • but I was growing up and Bruce Lee was just

  • the best martial artist in the world

  • and "Enter the Dragon" would always be on

  • TV late at night.

  • So I think martial arts and films almost

  • impacted me at the same time, in a way.

  • I remember starting judo at age 10,

  • thinking I wanna be like Bruce Lee.

  • And then when I was about 13,

  • I went into Taekwondo.

  • And then I went into kick boxing,

  • a little bit of capoeira, a little bit of krav maga,

  • a little bit of chi chuan do,

  • and a bit of wushu kung fu.

  • And then these days it's MMA.

  • One of the great things about making movies

  • is you always come into contact with

  • masters of various different martial arts.

  • I've met amazing people, and I've always been able

  • to gain knowledge off of these people.

  • So the films has actually been great for that as well.

  • [clanking]

  • My first experience in a martial arts film

  • was a baptism by fire, let me tell you.

  • It was called "Extreme Challenge" and it was

  • directed by Stephen Tung Wei, who was

  • the little boy in "Enter the Dragon."

  • The one that gets slapped on the back of the head

  • by Bruce Lee.

  • - Never take your eyes off your opponent.

  • - It was very difficult.

  • I remember doing this one fight scene

  • for two whole days on this raft in the middle of this Lake,

  • with this other wushu expert champion.

  • I remember thinking, Jesus, this is difficult.

  • [laughing] This is hard work.

  • I was ready to a degree, but I don't think

  • anything can properly prepare you for it.

  • Especially if it's a Hong Kong movie,

  • because it's just hard core the way they do it.

  • There's no rehearsal period.

  • You turn up on the day in a Hong Kong movie

  • and the fight coordinator works out

  • what that section of the fight's gonna be.

  • And he shows it to you, and there and then

  • you've gotta remember exactly what's been shown

  • and repeat it at a level that is

  • gonna be able to be captured on film.

  • And then that's it.

  • That's gonna be on film forever then.

  • So it's very stressful when the other guy

  • and yourself are moving at such a fast pace,

  • trying to remember what the next step is.

  • It's so fast that actually you can't think of it.

  • It's done on instinct.

  • And if you make a mistake,

  • if you don't duck at the right time,

  • you're getting hit.

  • Doing a Hong Kong martial arts movie

  • as my first movie was great, to be honest,

  • because I learned exactly how to do it the correct way.

  • In an American or European movie,

  • the typical way to shoot action would be,

  • you know, the way you do a drama.

  • You'd have your master shot, wide shot.

  • And then you'd come in and you'd get

  • your coverage from this side and from this side.

  • And then the closeup and a closeup.

  • So if you do that with the fight sequence,

  • you're gonna end up doing the whole fight sequence

  • from beginning to end many, many times.

  • So by the time I've done it, I'm absolutely shattered.

  • But the thing is, you can't do the whole fight scene

  • from beginning to end at full speed,

  • and make it brilliant for every angle, every time.

  • It's just impossible.

  • But how much of that footage is gonna be

  • on the editing floor, wasted?

  • So the way the Hong Kong guys did it

  • is that they will say, okay, we're gonna do

  • this section of the fight,

  • six to 10 movements, whatever it is.

  • And we're gonna use this angle

  • and you're going to throw that kick,

  • and I'm gonna come and the camera's gonna

  • come round here, and we're going to capture it beautifully.

  • We're gonna frame it perfectly.

  • And then we know that we've got

  • that section of the fight and we're gonna

  • move on to the next bit.

  • That is basically the Hong Kong way.

  • And it wasn't until "The Matrix," when Yuen Woo-ping

  • who was the fight coordinator on "The Matrix,"

  • that Hollywood actually did it the proper way.

  • But then at a certain point, they regressed

  • and the shaky cam came in.

  • You didn't actually see the fight.

  • You just heard it.

  • The reason they're shaking the camera is to hide

  • the shortcomings of the performers.

  • That's the only reason to do it.

  • [slapping] [grunting]

  • I'm afraid the "Bourne" franchise,

  • they don't shoot the fights properly.

  • And Greengrass is a brilliant director

  • and there's a reason he does that shaky cam thing.

  • It's more of a documentary style

  • and it puts you in the moment more.

  • I was in "The Bourne Ultimatum" and I didn't know

  • which camera we were supposed to be

  • making the punch work for it.

  • It had about five cameras going.

  • Is it for this camera?

  • Is it for that one?

  • Or is it for this one?

  • The films are great, I love them.

  • But I'm glad we're not shooting fights

  • like that anymore.

  • Bloody hell.

  • One fight scene that sticks out as

  • a perfect, amazing fight sequence,

  • is Jackie Chan "Drunken Master 2."

  • Otherwise known as "Legend of Drunken Master."

  • I mean, there's many amazing fights

  • that Jackie Chan has done,

  • but this fight, I want to point out,

  • particularly because I know that they

  • spent three months just on the end fight

  • and it absolutely shows.

  • Perfectly framed, it's brilliantly acted

  • and performed by Jackie Chan.

  • And he fights Ken Lo, who's known for

  • his amazing flexibility and kicks.

  • It's probably Jackie Chan working

  • at his very, very best.

  • [slapping] [grunting]

  • What's difficult about it is that days on end,

  • sometimes you've been doing it for a whole week.

  • Every day, you come in and you're fighting.

  • And yes, it's not a real fight,

  • but you're going at it the whole day

  • for 12 hours straight.

  • If you're a professional fighter, you get warmed up

  • and you're warm and you do your thing,

  • after 25 minutes, you're done.

  • Yeah, you're gonna be banged up and bruised.

  • But the thing about film fighting,

  • you can't stay warm for the whole day.

  • It's impossible.

  • So inevitably, you're gonna cool down,

  • you're gonna pull a muscle.

  • And then the next day you've gotta use

  • that pulled muscle to do outrageous

  • crazy things for the whole next day.

  • And then eventually that pulled muscle

  • is a full-on injury.

  • And this is what's so difficult about

  • making martial arts films.

  • It's hard not to get injured.

  • [slapping] [pounding]

  • The fight that I have with Jason Statham

  • in "The Expendables 2" was actually really easy to film.

  • I was injured at the time.

  • I had torn my ACL, it had gone.

  • But when they said action, to be honest,

  • you don't really think about it.

  • Your adrenaline gets going a little bit

  • and you just get on with it.

  • It's in between takes that it really hurts.

  • But working with Jason was great because,

  • obviously, he's a martial artist himself.

  • And he's a very experienced with film fighting.

  • The thing that most people don't understand

  • about film fighting, it's got nothing to do

  • with real martial arts.

  • It's got more in common with dancing.

  • A real martial artist will really struggle

  • to show the techniques of the camera.

  • And they also have this thing in their head.

  • Well, that's not the right technique.

  • I have to do the right technique, but no, no.

  • You need to do what looks right for the camera

  • and Statham absolutely understands that.

  • So it was a joy to work with him.

  • [pounding] [grunting]

  • The thing about making a fight sequence

  • is that you're a partnership.

  • Yeah, I'm trying to make it look like

  • I'm trying to rip your head off,

  • but the truth is, we're two performers

  • working together to create this violent ballet.

  • And really trust is so important,

  • making a martial arts film.

  • If I'm working with someone and I don't have

  • the trust that they're gonna be

  • in the right position at the right time,

  • or they might end up hitting me,

  • then I'm not going to be able to go 100%

  • because I'm gonna be worried that

  • this guy's gonna make a mistake.

  • Either he's gonna hit me or I'm gonna hit him.

  • [dramatic music] [grunting]

  • [glass shattering]

  • Obviously, for the movies you need to look the part.

  • You need to look a certain way.

  • So muscle mass is a part of that.

  • You wanna look like you're carved out of stone.

  • But the thing about being a martial artist

  • is it doesn't necessarily go hand in hand

  • with martial arts.

  • The bigger you are, the bulkier you are.

  • It's gonna slow you down.

  • It's gonna make you heavier.

  • Sometimes you have to do gymnastic movements

  • on film or flashy kicks.

  • If I weigh more, it's much harder to do,

  • and it's a lot more pressure on the joints.

  • But you better believe that I wasn't gonna

  • turn up on a set with Jason Statham,

  • Schwarzenegger, Stallone looking out of shape.

  • So we've got the pull up.

  • I'll start with a wide grip.

  • That's gonna put more emphasis on the muscles in my back.

  • And then if you go for the underhand grip,

  • you're gonna actually recruit the biceps.

  • And then you've got your pushup.

  • I like to do these reps very slow and controlled,

  • and I move from side to side.

  • So I'm really using core.

  • And then, of course, the squats.

  • And the reason I like to do plyometric squats

  • is because I'm a martial artist.

  • I need to be able to jump high.

  • I need to be agile and I need to move.

  • So I like to train my legs in a very plyometric way.

  • [dramatic music] [clanging]

  • [pounding] [glass breaking]

  • So when I did Dr. Strange, one of the main things

  • that I needed to make sure I didn't mess up

  • with the fight sequences with Benedict Cumberbatch,

  • because he is