Director honors 'G.I. Joe' lore with epic ninja sequence
05:00 AM, Mar 29, 2013
No G.I. Joe lover’s comic-book collection is complete without the famous “Silent Interlude” issue.
And G.I. Joe: Retaliation director Jon M. Chu is such a fan of G.I. Joe No. 21 an action-packed tale written and drawn by Larry Hama from 1984 featuring the silent ninja commando Snake Eyes but with no dialogue, captions or sound effects that the filmmaker took special care with an homage to it in the new movie.
With nary a word spoken in 10 minutes, the all-ninja sequence where Joe team members Snake Eyes (Ray Park) and Jinx (Elodie Yung) capture Cobra’s Storm Shadow (Byung-hun Lee) and attempt to escape from a pack of Red Ninjas on snow-covered mountaintops is a showstopper. Ninjas rappel down wires, clash swords while running on the sides of mountains, and even fall to their doom spectacularly.
“It definitely was something that drew me to the script to get me excited about it,” Chu says.
The crew spent over a month working on what producer Lorenzo di Bonaventura calls “one of the hardest action scenes I’ve ever been involved with” and this is a guy who has worked on three Transformers films in addition to films such as Salt, Red, Doom and many others with gunplay and fisticuffs.
The trickiest aspect: having actors and stunt men flying on ropes and correctly timing the sword blows of one guy passing another.
“It’s so much about balance and timing and rhythm. That’s the part where you had to do it over and over again,” di Bonaventura says. “People are rolling through the air where are they going to land exactly so that when they land, they can strike a blow with their sword?”
Chu himself had to be a man of action behind the scenes when he feared that Paramount wouldn’t let him have 10 minutes of a movie with no dialogue.
“Plenty of times, the studio would come and say, ‘Can’t Snake Eyes say one thing here? Wouldn’t it be cool to have Snake Eyes maybe take off the mask once?’ ” Chu recalls. “And plenty of times we had to be like, ‘What the (expletive) are you talking about? No! That’s not what he is, you can’t do that.’
“The journey to retain the honor of what ‘Silent Interlude’ is was a challenge.”