Along with all of my other coverage of “G.I. Joe: Retaliation” last week, I had a nice interview with Jon Chu, the movie’s director. We spent a lot of time talking about his history with G.I. Joe, as well as how he approached the movie from a director’s perspective, since it feels significantly different from 2009’s forgettable “G.I. Joe: The Rise of Cobra.”
However, the topic I was most most interested in discussing was the wild mountainside ninja fight sequence that was seen in the trailers and is even more impressive in the movie. It was easily the highlight of the movie, and its most memorable set piece.
Here’s an excerpt from the interview:
One of the most amazing set pieces in the movie is a mountainside chase sequence with Snake Eyes and Jinx fleeing a bunch of ninjas. It’s the one everyone is talking about already, so how did you film it?
That was months and months of work. It wasn’t something we went and shot in a week and then came back and edited. It was a culmination of live-action stuff, green-screen stuff, and on-set stuff. We built the ziplines in Vancouver and had stunt guys gliding along a thousand feet in the air in skintight ninja outfits. They were freezing cold and couldn’t breathe because the atmosphere was too thin for them up there. It was very difficult. There’d even be a storm every now and then, and we’d have to camp out for the night.
We also had a giant green screen – the biggest one I’ve ever seen. And we had these set pieces of the rocks that we had to latch onto and do certain things. Then you had [effects studio] Industrial Light & Magic there to connect all the pieces together. It was more collaborative than anything I’ve done in my life. And it was nine minutes without any dialogue. We had no idea if it was going to be entertaining enough to retain those nine minutes until we saw it. It was a lot of trust.
In fact, we set all of it up by having toys in a room with couches and chairs set up with lamps and everything,. I’d show a pre-vis scene how I wanted characters to jump onto one ledge and launch off another. The stunt guys and everyone else would say, “Okay, we can do that practical, and we’ll have to set that one up another way,” and so on.
You can read the rest of the interview with Jon Chu at DigitalTrends.com, which also includes a brief update on the He-Man movie he’s attached to direct (currently titled “Grayskull”).