No stunt doubles! No CGI! No wires! : a comparative study of Thai, Indonesian, and American martial arts cinema
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This paper is an argument that stunt and choreography trends in Thai and Indonesian martial arts films produced from 2003 to 2017 represent a conscious effort on the part of the filmmakers to produce fight scenes which are continuously chasing jaw dropping spectacle, with less and less regard to the human cost associated. Specifically, I examine 2 of the most successful films from each country, Ong-bak and The Protector from Thailand and Merantau and The Raid: Redemption from Indonesia, and trace the trends and production methods of each film. The global success of each is seen as a justification for the relative lack of safety protocols in the design of each action set piece. The films creators and performers freely admit to chasing the chosen aesthetic in an attempt to have their films stand out for thrill-seeking audiences. This expectation of spectacle translates to increasingly dangerous choreography, stunts, and real physical contact between main actors and stunt performers. This paper attempts to question the necessity of these methods. As a contrast, I also examine the United States stunt industry and successful U.S. action/martial arts films produced during the same time frame. Specifically, I examine the Bourne and John Wick franchises, in hopes of determining the necessity of production methods used by Thai and Indonesian film industries.