In last week’s blog, I thundered on about the Matthew Vaughn-directed Kingsman: The Secret Service and how Colin Firth’s performance makes his debut as an action hero a most engaging experience. Playing the character Harry Hart, Firth delivers in one fantastic scene a pugilistic storm of spins, strikes and blustering ballistics while the guitars of Lynyrd Skynyrd’s Free Bird howl in the background.
It serves as an exhilarating illustration of how to take a star who’s already 54 — a man who knows nothing about action, fights or firearms — and have him cinematically challenge the likes of Jean-Claude Van Damme, Chuck Norris and Steven Seagal with just one fight.
Enter the Aussie
Much of the credit for that accomplishment goes to Brad Allan, an Australian martial artist and action choreographer who worked with Vaughn on Kick-Ass (2010). Allan makes Kingsman … kick arse.
As Kingsman’s stunt coordinator, Allan has Hart go psychotic in the climactic fight, which is set inside a church. Although Hart takes out the entire congregation in the presence of a lot of pews, the fight doesn’t stink. In fact, it rocks.
And here’s the kicker: That two-minute scene was captured in one take! If you see Kingsman (again), note how Firth has no time to gather himself between opponents in that melee.
If you recall, Tony Jaa did a four-minute fight sequence in one take in the 2005 film Tom Yum Goong (aka The Protector). However, the battle was choreographed so Jaa could walk up several staircases, which afforded him several seconds of precious time to mentally prepare himself for the next bad-guy encounter. In contrast, Firth’s fight is truly rapid-fire, gassed-up and nonstop.
Comments From the Star
Colin Firth described the stunt team involved in the church fight as a “league of extraordinary gentlemen” — a nod to the 2003 action film that starred Sean Connery, the original James Bond.
“They all have their own sets of amazing skills,” Firth said about the members of the Kingsman crew. “You have the Jackie Chan-like training team of Brad Allan, and then we a have a six-time world-championship Thai boxer, an Olympic gold-medalist gymnast and someone from the special forces to do the gun training.
“I was training three hours a day, every day, for several weeks. I learned to use parts of my body that I’d never used and didn’t even know existed. It was painful.
“The role appealed to the 8-year-old version of myself,” Firth continued. “I relished in the playground fantasy of it — those elements of exuberance, high action and larger-than-life make-believe, where you have clear-cut heroes and villains who can do anything.
“There’s a form of superpower here. We’re not people who can fly, but we have gadgets that can do the impossible, from lighters and pens to blades in our shoes.”
If you’ve been around the action-movie world as long as I have, you may be thinking that Colin Firth could just as well have been talking about Robert Conrad’s hit TV show The Wild Wild West (1965-69). And you’d be right. Trends in film and television tend to repeat themselves.
Photos by Jaap Buitendijk © Twentieth Century Fox/Poster © Twentieth Century Fox