The Martial Arts of Marvel’s Daredevil TV Series, Part 1

When was the last time you heard of a TV show being renewed for its second season just 10 days after it premiered? Practically never. Yet that was the situation with Daredevil, a Netflix original series that’s become wildly popular almost overnight.

But wait — there’s more! According to Netflix, Daredevil is but the first of four epic live-action adventure series. It will be joined by Marvel’s A.K.A. Jessica Jones, Iron Fist and Luke Cage. The multiple launches will culminate with the title characters appearing in Marvel’s The Defenders.

Daredevil diabolically digs into the backstory of how the low-key, ethical and blind lawyer Matt Murdock (Charlie Cox, above, with Deborah Ann Woll, who plays Karen Page) evolves into the law-breaking, morally gray and remorsefully ferocious Daredevil, guardian angel of New York City’s Hell’s Kitchen. At the center of Hell’s Kitchen’s plumbing gone wrong is bald and bellicose madman Wilson Fisk, aka Kingpin (Vincent D’Onofrio, shown below), who’s trying to remodel the Kitchen by first destroying it.

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In addition to the gripping story, which features superb caricatures of characters created by Stan Lee in 1964, Daredevil benefits immensely from top-notch martial arts. In fact, many regard the fights as the main event — even the mainstream press has chimed in on the subject.

The brains behind Daredevil opted not to cast actors with a track record of doing swashbuckling adventure films. In fact, Cox and D’Onofrio don’t fit the bill in any way, shape or form. Yet their action sequences deliver real gut punches and shock value to the show’s demented dark side. The man responsible for all this belligerent brouhaha is stunt coordinator Philip Silvera.

Although Daredevil is the centerpiece for the martial arts fights, Silvera said that when Fisk gets to a certain point, he likes to have the character lose control and let brutality take over.

“When he’s in rage mode, he just keeps going until he’s done,” Silvera said. “That is Kingpin, that is D’Onofrio. He’s a very smooth, calculating individual, but when you bring out his rage, he’s like a bulldozer.”

Whenever I’m watching Daredevil and see Fisk violently take apart his opponents with his sledgehammer fists, I find myself thinking, “It’s clobbering time!” Hmm, now where have we heard that line?

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The fights in Daredevil aren’t just stuck into the story lines for the hell of it. Apart from moving the plots forward, each fight contributes to Daredevil and Fisk’s character development. Depending on the unique circumstances that lead up to each altercation, it can reveal a weakness or a strength. Either way, we know there’s going to be a major showdown between Daredevil and Fisk.

In my April 3, 2015 blog, I examined what was supposed to be Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D’s flagship fight, but it turned out to be like the French loss at the Battle of Trafalgar. Everything that the fight should’ve had to make it superiorly smashing was done in what’s considered the defining fight moment of Daredevil’s first season — and it was done with panache by Colin Firth in Kingsman, as described in my March 13, 2015 blog.

What battle am I referring to? The three-minute, single-shot fight scene highlighted in the second episode, which is titled “Cut Man.” In it, Daredevil viciously defeats a gang of Russian thugs. It’s the first of its kind for television — so noteworthy, in fact, that I’ll save it and the rest of my combat commentary for the second half of Black Belt’s Daredevil analysis.

Read Part 2 of this article here.

(Photos by Barry Wetcher, Courtesy of Netflix)

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